The Rider – Part 2

Hitchhiker1My brother used to be a pretty happy guy. In all honesty, I was the angry one and my brother the calm, collected one. While growing up, he and I had been best friends. I knew so many people who had fought with their siblings but it was never like that with him and I. When news of his injury had reached us all back in the States, I’d been wracked with guilt for not being there with him when it happened.

He had been so adamant, so patriotic. I, on the other hand, had become so disillusioned with politics. My hatred of the government was so strong that not only did I make it public knowledge that i would never serve this country, but I had tried to talk him out of joining as well. As angry as I was about him going, he was just as angry about me not backing his decision. He had never mentioned it, but I knew that he had wanted me to join with him and stand by his side.

The night that we finally drew the line that polarized our relationship had started out just like any other Friday night. Our usual MO was to find some guy outside a liquor store who was willing to buy us a case of beer and pay him double the amount of the case. For the purchaser, he made a nice chunk of change. For us, we received a case of beer to split between us. This particular night, as we waited outside the liquor store, an older man had walked past us with a ballcap on his head claiming that he was a veteran of the Vietnam War.

As he passed, he stopped and looked at us. Shaking his head and muttering something inaudible, it was obvious that he didn’t approve of something, and his animosity seemed to aimed our direction. I got cocky and told the man he didn’t need to be staring our way, that if he knew what was best he would keep moving along. He said, completely unapologetic, that he needed to stare. He said he wanted to see what dirt bags looked like nowadays. He said that he’d seen quite a few in his time on this earth and to this day he still could smell a dove from a city block away. I had no idea what he was talking about, but I’d had enough. My brother told me to let it go, that he was just a shell-shocked man who’d gotten to the point in his life that he didn’t care what anybody thought.

As so many young men are want to do, I couldn’t let it go.


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