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The Hammer

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There is a core to the soul that is like a ball of metal, warm all around, as if you held it in your hands. It is born perfect and strong, like love. There is a hammer in the soul, and our hands are its wielders. Time after time, we take it up and strike the core of ourselves, till our deformations make our metal weak and we wake each morning wondering if today we'll split in two.

Brandon knew how to suppress that knowledge. One day, he knew, he'd raise the hammer and smash himself to pieces if things kept going on like this. But he thoroughly expected to be dead before that day.


The day he broke Maria's heart...

Correction, he'd been breaking it for years, hoping she'd see he wasn't worthy of her, hoping his cold would drive her into the sun.

On the day he finished breaking her heart, the hammer didn't fall. He could feel it suspended; he could feel it laid down. Instead, an ordinary pain clenched his chest: the simple, paralyzing ache of the realization that he'd lost forever the only woman he would ever love.


The next day, Harry took him out to lunch to celebrate having sex with Sherry. "I've nailed it!" he exclaimed over his steak.

"Her?"

Harry gaped at him with mock consternation. "Hey! Wash your mouth out if you're going to talk about my girl. Nailed it. The whole package. I'm in. Don't say it. With Bear Walken. No, really, don't."

Brandon was laughing so hard he had to take off his glasses to wipe his eyes.

"What I mean is-- What I mean is--" Harry broke off, chortling, a bite of steak poised on his fork. "What I mean is it's perfect." He grinned with real joy. "She's perfect: beautiful, loyal, fun. She's crazy about me--and I'll tell you something else." A shade of seriousness now. "She understands sacrifice. And she's Bear Walken's daughter. I mean, how lucky a dog am I for Bear Walken to have a daughter like that, just ripe for the picking? And since Big Daddy doesn't have any kids, it lines me up square in the number two position, just like natural."

As Harry spoke, Brandon's good mood faded. It was wrong to feel like the butt of God's jokes just because Harry got the woman of his dreams the same night--the same fucking night--that Brandon surrendered the woman he'd loved years before Harry had ever met Sherry. He should be happy for Harry. And he was; it was a good thing. It tied Harry to Bear Walken, and Bear Walken was Big Daddy's right hand man. So there was no way Harry would...

He just wouldn't.

"Congratulations, Harry."

Would he?

Harry downed his bourbon. "So as soon as she's done with school, I'm going to go ahead and marry her. Be my best man?"

"Yeah."

Harry footed the bill, and they walked for a while. Brandon listened to Harry chatter about his big evening with Bear Walken and Sherry and his plans for the future. Nice plans. Safe plans, protecting Millennion along with Brandon and Bear Walken. All this should comfort Brandon, and it did--or would have maybe.

But the hammer had found its way back into his hands, and though its weight seemed impossible, once again he raised it.