The TV lady is looking straight into the camera, straight at Conor.
"Fucking Bitch!" He throws his half-finished beer can at the TV. Conor aims high, on purpose. His arm remains outstretched, his hand in the air pointing upwards as he turns his head from the explosion. The can cracks against the artificial wood paneling. White foam spews and splatters.
"Oh, is baby upset?" A woman's voice comes from the mess of blankets at the far end of the trailer. "Come here, babe, tell me what is wrong."
"Fuck her, fuck them all."
The news anchor woman seems unaffected by the projectile and the swearing, and continues with her report: with corporate profits at an all time high, it is just a matter of time before this windfall translates into higher paying jobs.
The woman in the bed moans louder. "Oh, never mind that, babe. Why does the news make you so upset? I can make you feel better." She sits up, arches her back and wiggles her ample chest in his direction. Conor throws her a quick glance, stands and approaches the TV set. With a violent kick, his foot descends on the power cord to the old television set, and Lucinda Quant's make up, facelift and painted eyebrows disappear into the spark of darkness, and the news anchor is no more.
"Sorry babe, not tonight. I'm going home." Conor finds his T-shirt on the sofa and slides it over his head. He looks around the trailer for anything else that might be his. He doubts he will be back here again. He is pissed that he wasted half a beer.
"Are you going to clean up your mess, asshole?" The door slams, the trailer shakes.
Conor walks past the trailers to the road. Lights are on. People are home from work or out at work or out of work. It's all the same bullshit to them. It's not late, not early.
He heads toward town and wishes he had a jacket. Fuck. He doesn't hate himself for being cold. It is his fault—no one else's. His hand reaches into his pocket, moves around a few coins and a bill. He still has bit of cash. He's good, for now.
Up ahead the pink and purple neon of the PixelDust sign flashes. He likely has enough for a beer, maybe two. But then again, that won't be his crowd in there. High tech pimps and coding whores, pulling tricks to get their IPO, then off they'll go. Offshore, somewhere. Sure, there will be jobs all right: yacht cleaning, security guards, someone to return the empties. See, there is always an opportunity if you play it right. Just like they're doing, playing it right. It's not cheating if you get away with it. That is what Stan always thought about him. But Stan didn't know shit then, still doesn't.
Stan just sees the world a little different. The big brother chip on his shoulder, always thinking that he has it so hard. Thing is, Conor thinks, I get my shit for free and nobody gets hurt-except maybe that woman in the trailer, what was her name, but she'll get over it soon enough.
Conor passes the PixelDust and the smell of grease from the chicken wing joint next door wafts down the road.
"Con!" The voice hits him from behind. A shot in the back. He turns to face his brother.
Stan is getting out of his car, a Volkswagen diesel. The alarm bleeps that the car is safe.
"Hey, Conor. I thought that was you. Can tell you by the way you walk. I was gonna pop into the PixelDust for a pint. You in? I'm buying."
He has gotta hand it to Stan. Sure, he'll take him up on a free beer, maybe even work a few whisky shots out of him, because that's what brothers do. He'll listen to his bullshit about how great his car is and what he is going to do with his stock options from the robotics company, and brag about the chick he is boning these days. He'll pat Stan on the back and say that's great. He'll be the little brother. Then he'll hit him up for a loan.
YOU ARE READING
GRAND PRIZE WINNER! The Brother Goes FirstShort Story
GRAND PRIZE WINNER in Margaret Atwood's The Heart Goes Last fiction competition! A prequel to Margaret Atwood's latest novel, The Heart Goes Last, and an entry in the Heart Goes Last Fiction Contest. In the days before the great economic collapse, C...