Whizzer watched Marvin hit his wife, well his ex wife. Whizzer watched the man's calloused hand, the hand that had held his shoulder on late nights in front of Marvin's crappy TV and the hand that had groped Whizzer rough in their nights of passion, strike across Trina's face. For once in Whizzer's time knowing Trina, she was completely nonreactive, not even a scream or a whine. Whizzer would have screamed, no Whizzer probably would have moaned. He would have done more than just stare at Marvin, until Mendel came up behind them and pulled his wife away. Marvin reached for her, the woman who had held his name for years; the woman who he had just hit.
Whizzer didn't have any idea what to do, he wasn't a part of this family anymore. He was never really a part of this family to begin with, this was Marvin's family. Whizzer didn't have one. Marvin had thrown him out, Marvin had dumped him, he didn't deserve to be here. He didn't deserve to watch Trina tell Marvin that she wasn't ashamed to love him and he certainly didn't deserve to watch as Jason tried to reach his father but Mendel held him back.
So Whizzer left.
He walked away and did something he never wanted to do before, something he never even thought of. Later, walking in the cold six am New York City streets, Whizzer was disgusted by what he did out of spite. What he did was in spite of Marvin, the man who insisted Whizzer be his housewife of all things. It was in spite of Trina, the woman whom he felt sorry for, even when Whizzer had been apart of the anger that caused her ex husband to strike her across the face. In spite of Jason, the kid who damned it be, had captured more of Whizzer's heart than Jason's father had at that point. And even in spite of Mendel, cause why not the hell not blame someone else too?
Whizzer fell into the legs of a woman.
The sentence repeated over and over again in his head, like a taunt from his subconscious as he stumbled his way through the streets of New York. Around him, people are busy. New York was Whizzer's favorite place to be when he did something terrible, which is most of the time, because everyone is judging everyone equally. We all look down at the people that walk next to us, even if they were objectively better people. It was the beauty of the city after all. It captured all the washouts of the world.
It never used to be any different to Whizzer anyways. Some dreamed of a city where dreams came true, where stars were born and blasted off into fame. To Whizzer, New York City was just the place he went after he was thrown out of his childhood home with bruises on his face and open wounds on his arms. He made what little belongings he had, the ones that sat in his suitcase in his left hand that would occasionally hit against his leg as walked now, by screwing men of all kinds. Shapes, sizes, ages, ethnicity. Anyone who wanted to have his hands on him, for the right price of course, could do so.
It was safe to say there had been no one like Marvin. No one to keep him detained from that life of sex to money to sex, for so long. For what was it, 9 months? No maybe 10. He didn't care, that was gone. So was the life of living as Mendel's son's mother's ex-husband's lover. Not that he needed to care for Mendel or any of them at all, even if his heart lurched, as he rambled off relations, at the faces that came to mind.
What he needed to focus on now was a place to sleep, food in his stomach, and probably a shower. That's really what he was thinking of when a man on the street grabbed him from behind and pushed him up against the wall of an alleyway. He definitely wasn't thinking about Marvin's rough finesse as the man shoved a knee in between Whizzer's legs to keep him place. And he certainly wasn't thinking about the emotionally manipulative, yet incredibly arousing, comments Marvin would whisper into his ears when the two would be in a similar position.
The man was propositioning sex, and Whizzer wasn't listening. Unless the man could offer a warm bed and some lukewarm food, which based on the overwhelming 'closeted' aura that Whizzer got from him had Whizzer assuming probably not, he would decline. Of course that earned a couple good kicks to his stomach, one to his groin that had him bent towards the dirty cement of the alleyway, and a punch or two to the face.
It wasn't until moments, or hours Whizzer didn't really pay attention to how long he'd been hunched over in the alleyway, later when an older woman came by to help him. She said about emergency contacts, and he rambled off the only one he knows. Marvin's. She pulled him into a nearby building, a barber shop, and demanded to use their phone. Whizzer shook his head, Marvin wouldn't answer, and he instead politely asked her to point him in the direction of Berkeley College dorms.
"Who are you looking for, dearie?" The lady was nice enough. She didn't seem to judge Whizzer too harshly, didn't ask a lot of questions despite insisting that she lead him to a safe place. Safe, he scoffed in his brain, he didn't necessarily have that.
"My sister." Whizzer growled. Not quite sure whether it be based on the name or the pain in his entire body that he wished would just knock him out already instead of slowly consuming him.
She asked what his sister's name was, and Whizzer didn't feel like answering. Didn't feel like giving a name that could care less if he was on the streets or in a ditch. Well, that was what he assumed anyway.
He didn't think that when he opened the door his younger sister would be struck with look that just read worry. Quite frankly Whizzer didn't believe the 19 year old was capable of any worry at all, especially for him, and yet there it was. As she closed the door after thanking the old lady, she turned to him and manhandled him into a hug so tight he felt like he was wearing a corset.
Wouldn't be the first time, he thought to himself, as his sister pulled back to give him a slap upside the head. "What the hell, Whiz?"
He groaned, not wanting to endure the unnecessary telling of how he ended up at her doorstep, so he instead walked over about five feet and face planted onto her couch. She laughed, running a hand through his hand as she passed to the bathroom, most likely to get him a towel or something that would clean up the bloody lip he'd earned.
"Who did you screw over this time?" Her voice got louder as she came closer to him, tossing the wet towel against the back of his head. "Or should I just say screw?"
"I didn't screw him." Whizzer groaned, reaching behind him to take the towel that was currently soaking his hair. "That was the problem."
"Dad would be proud." She said, kneeling down next to him to clean up the blood splattered across the lower part of his face.
"Rosemary." He whined, not at the towel of course he wasn't a bitch, but of course the mention of their father. Using the term loosely of course, since Whizzer didn't exactly consider the man father of the year.
"What have you been up to?" She asked, because of course she had to ask.
"What I've always been up to." He groaned, smacking her hand away as he turned over onto his back. She smiled at him, always the ever knowing little sister. The only one in their entire spectrum of a household that seemed to ever completely understand everyone else. Probably because she was the youngest, Whizzer thought.
"One guy? Or many?" She asked.
"You're talking about the guy who beat me up right?" He knew she wasn't.
"You know I'm not." She replied.
Whizzer groaned again, his entire body felt like it a fly being smacked at by a crappy father in a wife beater. Probably was a wife beater. Like Marvin, something sour in him said. No, Marvin didn't beat Trina, (or Whizzer, for that matter) he was selfish and arrogant but not an asshole. He just hit her. Once.
"How long since I called you last? Nine months?" He asked.
"Ten months. Said you were getting some pretty gifts from guy with a horrible fashion sense." She said, throwing the towel in a basket by the bathroom door. Whizzer didn't know what to laugh at; the quip that he often shared with Marvin over how long they'd been together, or the brief description of Marvin.
"One guy." Whizzer said, determined not to praise Marvin too highly because he knew Marvin wouldn't give him the same kind of praise. "One hell of a guy."
"I'm assuming he's not around anymore." Rosemary motioned for him to move over, letting her wrap her arms around him as the two tried to cram next to one another on the small crappy college couch. "Did you like him?"
And at that moment it all washed over Whizzer, like a sudden downpour. The scent of Marvin's dollar store shampoo as the smell clung to his wet hair that he never did anything with despite Whizzer's constant nagging. The feel of Marvin's crappy dress shirts that ended at the elbow and his hairy covered arms clutching onto Whizzer in old nights. The scowl of Marvin's lips, the color of his eyes, everything that ticked Whizzer off in their moments together now made him ache. Ache for it all, the fighting, the cuddling, the kisses Whizzer never gave, god it hurt. It hurt more than the bruises on his arms, and the cut on his face.
He refused to cry, he would not give Marvin the satisfaction despite the older man there to see him, so his chest moved up and down. A silent sob, with no tears falling down his face. His sister didn't hold him closer, didn't whisper reassurances in his ear. The Browns didn't do that sort of thing, it was always tough love or no love with them. Rosemary smiled (not a happy one she wasn't that heartless) but she ran her fingers through his hair, kissing his shoulder.
"Poor Whiz. You loved him, didn't you?" Rosemary asked, and Whizzer didn't reply. He didn't have the energy to deny it anymore but he certainly wouldn't agree. Not when the man had thrown Whizzer out, struck his wife in front of Whizzer, didn't even care what happened to Whizzer.
"I'll make dinner." She had said sometime after, getting up and leaving Whizzer on the couch as he let sleep consume him.
While Whizzer had cried that night back in May, he refused to give Marvin anymore of his tears. Or at least any tears that his sister could see to use against him. Living with Rosemary wasn't the worst possible situation Whizzer could have ended up in, after all it seemed at times that his younger sister really did care for him. However, she was young and living in the eighties; and Whizzer might be a bit old, but he certainly knew what he had been like at her age. Young, reckless, and heartless. The Browns were similar in that way, they never expressed love in the ways that you should.
She would toss empty threats of throwing Whizzer out on the streets when she came home from school and he hadn't done the dishes. He would sit on the couch fuming silently as she came home around 3 in the morning when he knew she had class in a couple of hours. That's what love was to Whizzer Brown. Rosemary loved him, she was never quick tempered like Marvin. It was a slow kind of burn to her anger, it would take weeks for her to actually snap but then she would be on her knees apologizing for yelling at him. Whizzer never apologized, neither did Marvin. Men were cruel like that, they always eventually made it seem like it was the other person's fault. Or at least men like Whizzer and Marvin.
"Whizzer, someone's looking for you downstairs." Rosemary grumbled, throwing her jacket across the couch onto his face as she walked through the door. Whizzer had gone to sleep as soon as he'd arrived early this morning after a late night with well, someone. He jumped up, turning around to look behind the couch at the kitchen where Rosemary was staring at him like 'try me'.
"You know you might get more guys to spend the night if you took better care of your clothes." Whizzer said, making it a point to toss her jacket onto the spot on the floor where he often knocked over glasses. He watched his sister's smirk turn to a growl and quickly left before she could come after him.
As he waited for the elevator, he wondered which one night stand might be waiting for him in the lobby and his mind got lost in a list of names and faces; always stopping for a moment too long on one in particular. One with a large nose and a M. He shuddered, that childish jerk didn't deserve his thoughts.
He stepped into the elevator, leaning against the rail, letting his breath catch again. This wasn't Whizzer. This kind of behavior was meant for men who were madly over their heels in love with a woman in their lives, this was straight behavior. Whizzer was neither straight nor in love, and at the mention of both he felt something disgustingly lukewarm in the back of his throat.
He stepped out of the elevator, smiling at Carl the doorman before looking for a familiar face. However he saw no flamboyant, gel-smelling, strap or no closeted, scruffy dressed, boy outside the building. Instead there were busy New Yorkers crossing in front of the building and the backside of a business man pushing a stroller. Just as he was about to turn around and knock Rosemary on the head for bothering him, when Carl caught the businessman's attention.
The man turned around, and Whizzer got a good look at the man. He wasn't as handsome as Whizzer normally went for, but it he had gotten drunk enough it definitely could've happened. Whizzer turned around and mustered up his prettiest smile. "Ready for round two?"
"Whizzer Brown?" The man asked.
"That's what they call me, handsome." Whizzer said, taking a step closer to reach his hand out and run it along the sleeve of the other man's blazer. The man seemed uncomfortable, stepped away, and reached down into the stroller that Whizzer had noticed earlier.
"Aw come on, don't make me beg." Whizzer grinned, and the man whipped his head back up to now holding a packet of paper in his hand.
"The court now officially transfers custody of this unnamed child to their father, you, Whizzer Brown." The man handed the packet over to Whizzer, waiting until he looked at it before pushing the stroller towards Whizzer.
"Wait-" Whizzer tried to call after the man as he began to walk away, but it was clear that he was trying to repress being flirted with by another man. Screw him, Whizzer thought, I'm a fucking catch.
A sound came from the stroller, and Whizzer decided best to do this inside, so he turned the stroller around and pushed it inside. As he approached the door, Carl leaned it, laughing at him. "Congrats."
"Shut up." Whizzer groaned.
Pushing the stroller inside and into the elevator, his mind was flashing back to that day in May. A bitter taste was forming in the back of his throat, and his head felt like it was slowly consuming him. The jerk of the elevator was making him dizzy, and his body was starting to sway with each floor they went up.
Then it stopped, and he tried his best to make it down the hall to his sister's apartment, where they now lived. It was much different from living in the dorms with Rosemary, there weren't so many students around to watch over them or staff to give disapproving looks. The place was small, still only one bedroom and a study, Whizzer didn't want his sister to give up on her studies so he slept on a foldout couch in the study.
He knocked lightly at first , hearing the sound of laughter from inside, and then proceeded to knock harder. Footsteps got closer to the door and then he heard the lock unlock, and then the footsteps retreated again. "Rosemary."
"Sh." Rosemary said, waving him off as he entered. Whizzer pushed the stroller behind him, setting it in front of the living room couch.
'What the hell is that?' His sister mouthed at him, clearly she was on the phone with someone but considering the fact that there was a fucking baby in their living room, she seemed to realize something more important was happening with her brother.
"Clearly a baby." Whizzer hissed.
"Sorry, I have to go." Rosemary said, and the baby from the stroller started making some kind of childish sound. Whizzer opened the top of the stroller and looked down at the small baby inside. There was a small little curl of light brown hair puffing out from the top of the baby's head, and as Whizzer looked closer, the baby's luminous light brown eyes were starring back at him.
"It's starring at me." Whizzer said, moving back and forth in front of the baby making the baby giggle.
"He's a baby, Whizzer. Not an it." Rosemary said, walking over and setting a warm towel into his hands.
"How do you know it's a boy?" Whizzer said, setting the warm towel down on the coffee stand as Rosemary leaned down to pick the baby up out of the stroller. "And in my defense, the last time I interacted with a baby, you were the baby."
"Do you wanna check?" Rosemary asked, and Whizzer shook his head. She sighed, taking a quick peak underneath the baby's pants and inside their diaper. "Congratulations, it's a girl."
"So what are we going to do with her?" Whizzer asked.
"You tell me. I would know if she were mine." Rosemary said, handing the child over to Whizzer. It was a strange kind of weight in his arms that he'd never quite experienced before, but he took a good long look at the little girl. His little girl.
The title was undeserving of the cute baby in his arms, nothing that this infant could have done in their short life warranted the sharing of Whizzer's genes. Whizzer thought of Rosemary, who was currently searching through the bottom of the stroller to see what the child had came with, his sister only shared a couple of his disastrous personality traits and she was still a mess. But this child was half him, she could inherit his slutty tendencies or his explosive insensitivity.
Maybe, just maybe, if he could find another way of life for this girl then she'd end up as something. Maybe she'd have a dad like Marvin, without all the homosexual cheating and territorial issues, just a normal man with a crazy wife and a smart kid. Would Whizzer's daughter even be smart? Maybe, but then again she wouldn't exactly have any upper hand if she was raised by a queer and his reckless younger sister. No child in the world would flourish in such a household.
But then, like an image from a dream that he couldn't really remember, Jason came to him. What would have happened had Marvin left Jason? Not that Whizzer was comparing himself to Marvin in anyway, Whizzer had a bit more self respect than that. But god, what a blessing it would be for his daughter to end up like Jason. Smart, funny, one adorable pain in the ass.
"So, Whiz?" Rosemary asked, and he turned to look at her. When he took in the sight of his sister, Whizzer felt the bubbling feeling of regret. A past he wanted to forget, but remembered all too well, and a girl that Whizzer could have saved, but didn't. Mistakes and wrong turns, that's what Rosemary was to him.
But this baby, this child in his arms. She held years that had yet to be written, the second chances Whizzer had never been given. This child in his arms didn't choose to be the heir of a reckless homosexual, but maybe just maybe, Whizzer could do this whole fatherhood thing. It couldn't be that hard, after all Marvin had done it and Jason was still an amazing kid.
"Well." He paused, turning the baby in his arms to face his sister. "She's going to need a name."
Chapter 3: Chapter 3
Late February 1980
"Whiz, you home?" Rosemary asked, determining to find her brother and give him in a hug. It was late, sure, but she couldn't imagine him anywhere else yet. Whizzer had taken the overnight shift at the local grocery store to bring in a little more cash, but he wouldn't have to leave for another half an hour yet.
"In the kitchen." Whizzer called, Rosemary rushing into the cream colored kitchen to wrap her arms around his shoulders. He had been cooking, supposedly for her, and while not moving far from her, he still reached over to turn the stove top off.
"What's this for?" Her brother asked, and Rosemary considering telling him the reason behind it. The youngest of the Brown family wasn't emotional, she rarely shed a tear for anyone, and when she did, she would cry out of anger. Because this world wasn't made for people to cry, it was a terrible place and if you let it get to you, you would be crying all the time. But today had tested her for sure.
Grief brought out the worst in people, and today, Rosemary had to grieve silently, which was even worse. She had to grieve silently as her professor told her class that one of their classmates had passed away that night in the hospital. She had to grieve silently when her classmates kept asking what could have killed the young man, when Rosemary knew. She knew that it was the thing they all had been talking about, killing pretty boys all over New York City. She knew that Bryan, the boy who had passed away, had been pretty. And she had to be silent about it all.
"Promise you'll be safe." Rosemary whispered, Whizzer could barely hear it at all, but he had. And silence fell over the two Brown siblings. "Whiz, promise."
"I don't know what you're talking about." He laughed, not because anything she had said had been funny, but instead because he didn't know what to say.
"Something's going around, Whiz. And you need to be safe, if not for yourself or for me, then for your daughter. Okay, big brother?" Rosemary and Whizzer didn't have these talks, they didn't look out for each other like this, but something about the grief clinging to the insides of Rosemary's chest, made her feel like she should. Just this once, just for today.
"Okay. Hey, you're okay, right?" He knew this wasn't her, and if she wanted to talk about it, he was going to be the one that has to ask.
"Whatcha cooking?" She smiled, pulling away from him. Not tonight, Whizzer thought to himself. Thew two stayed in comfortable silence for most if the time the food was cooking, and when the baby cried from the bedroom, Rosemary stood up.
"I got her, Whiz. You should head to work." Rosemary stepped towards the bedroom, as Whizzer reached for his coat and grabbed his keys off the table by the door. "Lock it on your way out."
And with that, Whizzer was gone. Rosemary leaned against the bedroom's door frame, letting her heart catch up with her. The baby was still crying, kind of, it was more of an empty sob that told Rosemary, that the baby was lonely. She knew that Whizzer would be fine by himself for his shift, she knew that she should probably go give the baby her bottle. And yet, still, she sat in the doorway worrying for her big brother.
"Hello Anastasia." Rosemary greeted, pushing open the door so that Anastasia could see she wasn't alone. "Your dad, my brother, says that you have a princess name. I think he just watches too many Disney movies for an old man, don't you?"
Anastasia gurgled in response, typical of a baby. And Rosemary felt like this a couple of weeks old infant was having a full conversation. "I agree, Anastasia. It's possible he wanted to give you a normal, yet interesting name."
After a few delirious moments of conversing with her niece, Rosemary decided that both Anastasia, and herself, needed sleep. She took the baby out of the basket and the two girls laid next to each other, out on the twin bed in the room.
And that's how Whizzer found them in the morning. He would have let Rosemary sleep a little longer than normal, because of what went on last night, but Whizzer knew that if he let whatever she was feeling settle in, then she would feel it for the rest of the day. Rosemary would be stuck in the mood for who knows how long, and he'd never be able to pull her out. So he woke her up, and she groaned but she moved. She got ready for the day, seemed to move on past whatever had been bugging her last night. Whizzer didn't need to know, he only needed to say his lines, under the role of big brother, ask her how she's feeling. Whizzer waits for her to grumble a 'fine' and then pushes her out the door to the sound of his daughter crying out of hunger.
That is his life, he goes from brother to to father, barely any room to just be Whizzer. Worker in somewhere in there, too, but that is a-okay by him. Cause any time alone, he finds himself drifting back to a man. A kind of nice little apartment in the middle of the city, a building just off the subway, where a son visiting his father on weekends could just use the subway train instead of having to be escorted by an ex wife that doesn't even want her son there in the first place.
The sound of a woman screaming at her child in the hallway brought Whizzer back to his daughter. His daughter. She was barely even a month old and Whizzer was slowly seeing her face morph into one that resembled his own far too much. He lives this life for her, for the warm feeling flowing through his veins that her brought him. Or her smile, that in any moment, is the single greatest thing that he's ever seen.
He took her out of her small, partially broken, crib and brought her out into the kitchen to feed her. And after that, he took a seat on the sofa from his sister's old dorm, and held his daughter in his arms. He listened to the sound of her sucking on the bottle, the way her mouth wrapped around it was instinctive. Whizzer hadn't needed to teach her that, so it's quite possible that there were other things that she would just do. Maybe, by some grace of a God that Whizzer didn't necessarily believe in, she would just be different from the rest of them.
Whizzer wanted to cry, he wanted to scream about how incredibly unfair life was. How unfair it was that Anastasia was stuck with about as useless of a father that she could have ever gotten. How unfair it was that someone as irresponsible as Whizzer was left with the very difficult task of not fucking up a child. And somewhere, there was something else. A sense of unfair around love, that despite how bad the people in Anastasia's life are, they still love her. And how unfair it is that the bad people in Whizzer's life don't.
Chapter 4: Chapter 4
Rosemary sat down, staring at the smiling baby with tears coming to the young adult’s eyes. The baby, just barely five and a half months old, had barely gargled a syllable and yet Rosemary couldn’t wait for her brother to come home. To see the spacey smile spread across his face like it did anytime Anastasia did anything.
“Daddy’s home.” Rosemary mumbled as she heard the door click, the giggling sound of her niece being the only noise other than Whizzer’s fast approaching footsteps.
She waited for Whizzer to come in, and as she did, she thought on how they had made it hear. Living from moment to moment, the kind of moments like this where Anastasia had done something remarkable yet utterly ordinary. To the ones like last night, they had been screaming at each other, red in the face and not entirely sure the other would come back the following morning.
“Where’s the parade?” Whizzer laughed as he stepped in the bedroom, the puffiness from last night’s tears still staining his face.
“Who’s that, Anastasia?” Rosemary asked, turning to look at the child whose little curls of light brown hairs looked like she had rubbed her head too hard on the carpet.
And Rosemary looked so alive, with her eyes wide expecting the child to solve the world’s problems with whatever she might gargle. And Whizzer might just believe it, that his daughter had the answers to everything, because she was just that amazing. And what she did was just that, amazing, as the barely five month old was raising her chubby little finger in Whizzer’s direction as she gurgled “Da-a.”
Whizzer felt hot around his eyes, his chest tightened slowly, and he reached towards his daughter to pick her up in the air. Every insecure little thought fled from his mind as Anastasia did it again, she mumbled Dada, in her tiny little voice. Anastasia, Whizzer’s daughter, had a voice and it was the most beautiful voice he had ever heard. Whizzer’s second thought was to run, to turn around and take them far away from where they were right now. From whatever bad moment was going to try to rip this feeling from him, to try and steal away the beautiful sound of his daughter saying Dada.
“Watch this.” Rosemary held her hand up to Anastasia’s ear, getting the infant to turn her head and look at her aunt. “Whose this?”
“Ro-y.” Anastasia sputtered and her father laughed.
“That’s us. Da-a, and Ro-y.” Whizzer’s tears spilled down his face, they wretched his chest tugging it up and down in heavy sighs. The force caused him to cough, and his sister watched as he hacked for a second before turning to kiss Anastasia’s cheek.
When the phone rang Rosemary turned to the kitchen, to give her brother a moment alone with his daughter who had just said her first dada, but then as she stepped around them she felt something grab at her hair. She stopped, figuring it to be Anastasia and the little girl didn’t know much better to let go if Rosemary had kept walking, but when Rosemary turned to look it was her brother.
Sorry, was implied by the slight raise of his eyebrow and she stayed put for another second, reaching up to hold her brother’s hand. For a small moment, with his daughter settled into the crook of his left arm, and his sister holding his right hand, the world seemed completely perfect to Whizzer.
“I didn’t think we’d ever get lives like them.” Rosemary mumbled, knowing now that the calm before the storm had ended. If she were anyone else, she would regret mentioning anything, but she knew that Whizzer would have wanted to know.
“Who?” Whizzer asked, still staring at his daughter in a combination of pride and amazement. Rosemary cleared her throat.
“Dougie. Lew.” Rosemary knew the mention of the other Brown children was a ticking bomb when she said it, she knew that despite the happy expression Whizzer had just a moment, the man had a war going on inside of him right now.
“What-” Whizzer stuttered, knowing very well that if he continued his perfect moment would be ripped away from him. “What happened to them?”
“After the team dumped him, Dougie’s got addicted to something. Dad doesn’t like to talk about it, Mom won’t even acknowledge that he exists. Lew married some girl, took in her kids too. She’s really off though, and the kids hate him.” Rosemary tiptoed carefully, Whizzer cared that his family didn’t end up in a ditch somewhere, but Rosemary had really only been the one to care about him at all.
“Mom and Dad?” Whizzer asked, running his hand over the top of Anastasia’s head, he could hear Mendel now, muttering about coping mechanisms. Something about reaching out to the family that he wanted, when talking about the family that hadn’t wanted him.
“Barely. Dad’s on his last legs. Mom’s done with taking care of him.” The Browns didn’t romanticize anything, it was in their genes. Whizzer’s parents only stayed married out of convenience, Lew only got married because he was the oldest and it was his responsibility and Rosemary only went to college because she was the youngest and they wanted her to have better lives than all of them. Whizzer and Dougie had no responsibilities as the middle children, which is surprising considering they got the most backlash for their actions.
“Guess you won’t be meeting Grandpa anytime soon.” Whizzer chuckled to his daughter, morbid and barely sane. As he kissed his daughter’s forehead, he remembered a similar scene when his sister had been born. The three boys had been gathered around their mother, watching as she cradeled the baby as if she were glass. And while the other two children had gotten quickly bored with the infant who couldn’t play in anyway, Whizzer had been amazed with the baby. The baby that had grown into a young woman who was ruining perfectly blissful moments like this.
“We all end up there one way or another.” Rosemary knew that Whizzer knew she was not talking about death. That she was referencing the moment where, just before the end, it all fell apart. At that moment, the phone rang again.
“Not her. Her life will amazing.” Whizzer couldn’t pinpoint when this ideal had entered his brain, but he knew, somehow he knew, that Anastasia would be just fine. Call it faith if you will, even if Whizzer had never believed in anything in all his life, but he was sure of it.
“Who are you kidding, Whiz? She’ll end up just like the rest of us. Unhappy and unsatisfied.” Rosemary wanted her brother to know what she was feeling, while he was blissfully skipping in a meadow of beautiful children and parenthood, she was wasting her life away caring for someone else’s child. These moments were perfect for Whizzer, and bitter for her.
“With that attitude, she will.” Whizzer set his daughter down on the floor, to amuse herself for a moment and also because he knew when he stormed out towards the kitchen, Rosemary would stay with the child.
His feet felt heavy as he walked away from them, leaving someone had never been this hard. So when he had reached the front door, he just stood there, waiting for something to happen or for himself to move. But then the phone rang, and his hand was reaching for it.
“Hello.” Whizzer’s voice was sharp, and he knew whoever was on the other end of the line had not just been in the room with him, so they didn’t deserve the rude tone, but then again Whizzer didn’t care.
“Whizzer Brown?” The voice was young, and even though it had been just a little over a year since the day in May 1979, Whizzer recognized the voice immediately.
“Jason?” Whizzer asked.
“Yes!” Jason replied. “Hey Whizzer, I know it’s been a while. But I was wondering if you’d like to come to my last game this season, I know Dad and you are on bad terms, but I could really use some help. I’m trying to make the good team next year.”
Whizzer’s brain was shutting down, something wasn’t quite working right. And then, all of a sudden, words were coming out, words that sounded an awful lot like Marvin. “No, sorry Jason. I’m very busy with work right now, I don’t think I’d have the time.”
“That’s okay. Just thought I’d ask. Maybe next year.” Jason didn’t sound disappointed at all, Whizzer kind of hoped he would, but then again the kid really didn’t work like anyone else.
“How have you been Jason?” Whizzer should have hung up, he didn’t need this part of his life coming back, didn’t need certain feeling to rise up again.
“Good. Mom and Dad are trying to work things out, so things around here have been a little crazy, Mendel and I mostly watch TV. He likes to watch baseball with me.” Jason spoke hesistantly over the phone, he hadn’t spoken to Whizzer in a long time, he didn’t want to mess it up by saying the wrong thing.
“Well, Jason, I have got to go, it was nice to talk to you.” Whizzer wanted out, Jason’s voice was causing a tight feeling in his chest. Darn kid, always making him soft.
“Okay, Whizzer. Talk to you later.” Jason’s voice was so nonchalant that Whizzer felt like Jason didn’t even remember the fact they hadn’t even spoken to each other in almost a year.
“Who was that?” Rosemary asked, coming from the other room with Anastasia in her arms.
“No one.” Whizzer turned to look at the phone, and then back at his sister. “What’s for dinner?”