“I’m not like my brother,” he muttered, “I don’t sing when I’m drunk.” In fact, he didn’t sing at all, and he didn’t drink much, certainly not enough to get drunk, not since those days in his twenties when he tried to keep up with their father. His eyes squinted when he thought of it, from pain referred through the ages, the recollected burning of shiners. Their father always wanted to fight when they were drinking, not fight everyone, mind you, or anyone in particular, excepting him, his kid that was trying to be his drinking buddy, the one closest to his cocked fist. They were cold, he remembered, the father’s hands when they landed. Somehow cold, possibly from the succession of beer bottles and rock glasses they held prior to commencement of fisticuffs. That split second freeze on his eyes and the punches connected, before the residual burn and swelling amidst the dizzying fall to the floor. What moments! Like the spray of a rushing stream before it takes one under and down, down into the familiar, the darkness, the escape. Oblivious to the father blows and the father epithets and father spittle raining upon the shirt already damp with whiskey.
Their father was dead before the kid brother took up drinking like the old man. Long fearing for him, the big brother steered his sibling away from violence, instead teaching him to sing.