They’re brothers. And they’re close. A...

Another America

Clint Ewell

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They’re brothers. And they’re close. And no matter how long I’ll know them, they’ll always know each other better. It’s part of the deal.

“My brother, hail my friend, I’ve longed to see thee happy.”

Who is that? Wordsworth? Whitman? Some other W? Someone else. I think of those lines and I think of Dan & Jared. I know. Poetry. Me? But I like it. It’s my dirty secret. A jock who likes poetry. Go figure. Hey, I heard that John Wayne liked ballet. Do with that what you will.

I had this babysitter when I was about seven, Christine Killner. Not the prettiest girl in the world. If she were she wouldn’t have been available to babysit on Saturday nights. Right? Anyway she was an English Lit major at Utah State and she lived two floors down in our building and she would study while babysitting me but I, as you can imagine, craved attention so she turned her babysitting into a poetry seminar. Smart, right? I was seven and I loved her. I mean here was a real woman, wearing a tight sweater, paying attention to me. Something that didn’t happen often. And she was teaching me something that I would otherwise not know about. My Mom wasn’t exactly poetry material. Dirty limmericks maybe but anyway where was I? Oh yeah Christine ... she was always wearing these really tight sweaters. Even then I couldn’t resist. She’d read the poems aloud and I’d learn some of them along with her. This was before I started hanging out with Dan and later Jared. Once they came along well, my interest in poetry sort of got sidelined in favor of well, in favor of more traditional guy stuff. In favor of the game. In favor of playing with boys my own age. In favor of the Jazz. In favor of my possibilities.

Pause.

Where was I? Oh yeah, Dan and Jared. Best guys in the world - but I’m always a third wheel.

Though they walked together through the forest mist, with hands clasped in brotherly love, their idyll was corrupted; a cone of morning light bore through the sylvan scene and though the light was crisp and bright; the idyll became unclean.

It’s not Whitman, it’s... I dunno... Anyway, when I first met Dan we got along OK, nothing special - and we got used to each other the way kids do when they’re always at the same place. But Dan kind of took charge of us, of our friendship and well. I let him. He was always thinking of things to do, pranks, games - you know the type of stuff and I go along with them. It’s fun. Anyway, we would watch the older guys play on the school court and occasionally, because I was a pretty good player, they’d let me play with them while they were practicing. But then once they started playing in earnest I was pushed to the sidelines. Dan wasn’t as good a player as me but he’d hang around and the same way - we’d sit together and cheer the guys on. And that was our friendship. Once Jared was old enough to be in Dan’s care we simply became a trio. I really didn’t give it much thought - it just was. I guess that’s it. That’s how it’s been. That’s how it’ll be. No changes there, for now. Except that, lately I’m not feeling a part of anything: these guys, a girlfriend, a job - not a lot to grab on to...not the way I used to.

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