Our house is hopping when I get in from Little League. The Hennesseys, Cardulos, people up and down the street are sitting on the porch with no drinks and the dog is going apeshit in the basement. Dad says the Vinales were in an accident. Mrs. Vinales is still under observation, but doing well considering. Mr. Vinale’s leg has already been operated on. Vinny, the twin with the missing front tooth is being “prepared”—Mrs. Hennessey’s word—at Dpassky’s Funeral home across town. Dad’s hand rests heavy on my shoulder when he tells me Bobby, the other twin, is in my bedroom. We’re waiting for his uncle from Toledo to take him home. He says Bobby asked to play my drums. I picture busted snares, splintered drumsticks and double time the stairs.
My door is closed and Mom is singing Bobby “The Little Brown Fox” even though our whole family knows his favorite word is screw. Saturday nights I babysit the twins. To find out which is which, I tickle them. Vinny has the missing front tooth; Bobby’s grin is all white and sharp. I dig my fingers into their ribs till they howl.
Bobby is poking my drumsticks into his snotty nose. I sit at the bottom of the bed where his feet can’t reach me. Mom gives me the eye—like I‘ll know what to say. When she leaves, I tap Bobby’s shoes as if I’m playing the drums. We both start to sniffle. I tell him it’s okay. I promise him no tickling ever again. I tell him he won’t even have to smile.
The article is adapted from Sudden Flash Youth. 65 short-short stories edited by Christine Derkins Hazuka