You know, they say that every day above ground is a good day.
Try telling that to Sean Donnelly. He gets the shit beat out of him, nearly dies, and meanwhile his older brothers are running ragged all over town and there's nothing he can do about it.
Now, me and Sean, we weren't ever what you might call 'close'. Tommy, Jimmy, and Kevin were protective of him; and me, I was too busy running wild with Jimmy and Kevin to waste much time or thought on the ladies' man of the Donnelly brothers. But he was always there, you know? Sean was always around, flirting with whatever girls were in the area, helping out his brothers whenever they needed it.
They're the Donnelly brothers, that's all. Whaddya mean? Because that's who they were. Listen, do you want me to tell the story or don't you?
Sean was the tagalong when we were kids. Not in a bad way, I mean, nobody was exactly upset that he was around—or if they were nobody would dare say nothing 'cause Tommy, Jimmy, and Kevin would've beat their heads in for it. Sean was the innocent, I guess. Tommy was getting out, Jimmy was going nowhere, Kevin paid attention, and Sean was the innocent.
Then he turned fourteen and he wasn't so innocent anymore, you get it? All of a sudden, girls were noticing him as something other than the cute little kid who followed Tommy and Jimmy and Kevin around. All of a sudden, I couldn't stop by the Donnellys' place without hearing the phone ring half a dozen times, all different girls, all calling on Sean. All of a sudden, Sean was getting pushed around by guys who were more upset about having their girlfriends stolen than they were scared of his older brothers, and almost every weekend Jimmy and me would have to go bully someone into leaving Sean alone. Wasn't his fault the girls loved him; even if he didn't do much to discourage it.
Sometimes one of his brothers' girls would get a wandering eye, and wander right over to the prettiest Donnelly brother. And then Jimmy or Tommy or Kevin would sulk around for a while and scowl and be upset, and Sean would stay quiet and look guilty. But it never lasted long. They couldn't stay mad, not at Sean.
Me, on the other hand—Katie MacNicholl left me for Sean, and I stayed mad about that for a good long time. Katie was a real doll. I was crazy about her at the time. She's married now, you know, one kid and another on the way, neither of 'em mine. Or Sean's. At least I don't think they're Sean's. He's a good kid at heart, and he's a Donnelly—if he had a kid and he knew about it, he'd be taking care of it. No, they're probably her husband's.
I'm pretty sure.
What? Right. Listen, I'll tell the story in my own way, and if you don't like it—
All right, all right.
Anyway, Sean was definitely the luckiest of the Donnelly brothers. He always had a bright smile and a charming word and life just went his way.
Then he got beaten to a bloody pulp and nearly died all 'cause his big brother Jimmy couldn't pay off a loan. Which, you know, led to a lot of people dying, Jimmy going to jail, and Tommy taking over the neighborhood; not so lucky for Sean.
I went to see him in the hospital. He wasn't looking so good and he'd been coughing up blood and he kept saying his head hurt. But he smiled, joked around, flirted with the nurses.
Sean, you see, nothing ever managed to keep him down. He's a Donnelly. And he might be the baby of the family, but that doesn't mean he's weak. He's just always been the lucky one.
...oh, you wanted to know about Sean's involvement in what happened later? Well, why didn't you say so?
That's a whole 'nother story.