- My Brother's Keeperby DerivedBetter
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My Brother's Keeper by DerivedBetter
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Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.
Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of language.
There's an abandoned school in my neighborhood. Sometimes I wonder if they'll ever use it again or if it'll just sit there behind that rusty chain link fence, doors splayed open like a rotten mouth chewing up the cracked sidewalk forever. Lonely, desolate ... haunted? I don't know which word fits best, but for me that last one seems to hit the nail. That place haunts me.

Some days I sit at my kitchen table and stare out at it for hours on end, reliving those last days and wondering what I coulda done different. I'm old now, my memories have faded and sometimes stuff gets all muddled up in my head, but some experiences leave their mark permanent like, some actions can't be taken back and some places sure as hell need to be abandoned.


My brother Keith was always getting into trouble. Volatile and stubborn, mean as hell and quicker to fight than anybody I ever saw. He would fight grownups, blacks, whites, it didn't matter, but he had a particularly bad rep with the colored folk who didn't know him so well. He had a few colored friends and even a Mexican one that would hang with him now and again so he wasn't necessarily a racist but let somebody a shade or two darker then his deep summer tan spark his wrath and the slurs he'd be slinging would probably hurt nearly as bad as the fists and feet that'd be following them. We all knew he was just an equal opportunity hater of all things that didn't sit right in his head, and that the list was long.

Tough too. I mean crazy tough, especially when he was mad. And I think that was what made him so damn tough...the crazy part I mean. He just didn't seem to care what kinda pain a body could heap on him, because he knew he could give more than he got any day of the week. The look in his eyes would weaken your knees, sway your resolve and convince you that it was in your best interest to get the hell out of dodge and away from that crazy fucker at the first oppurtunity. One day, I seen him get beat down by three big ol' colored boys outside the city swimming pool. They blind sided him, tackled him into the dirt parking lot and commenced to kicking the shit out of him. They must've kicked him thirty times or so between the three of them before I could get across the pool and out the gate to help him out. It didn't matter. As I rolled through the gate, I heard Keith laughing.

"HA. HA. HA," short barks punched through gritted teeth. Those boys never stood a chance, they had beat down a sixteen year-old kid, turned their backs on him and he had changed into something wild. Something filled with mad rage that was ready to rip out their throats and piss on their bloody guts.

He was on the biggest one in an instant, fist-sized rock held tight slamming into the back of that old boy's head like a piston and the other two fell soon after. I had to grab him then before he outright killed em. He bucked like a bronco, but I held on tight and reined him back in. I ain't never seen anything like it...well until all that shit went down at the old high school.


I don't know why them big old boys came after my brother at the pool and if he knew he sure as shit didn't fill me in. Sometimes trouble just follows certain people around like a greedy little dog trying to lap up all the misery it can get. I sure know what happened at that school house though, at least most of it. I have to say, It was probably my damn fault. I helped feed that greedy little dog all it could eat. We served up a damn misery buffet those last few days and if you were sitting around in my head you would say there's still plenty left to go around.

I reckon it was about a girl. When you get right down to it, ain't it always? Jenny Valdez, the only girl... hell probably the only person, my brother ever loved. I'm sure you can tell from that name that she wasn't no white girl and back in those days that sort of thing didn't sit real well with people in Mississippi. I know they thought he was a real conundrum, my brother. Keith coulda gave two shits what the whole damn town thought as long as they kept their mouths shut and their noses out of his business. But they didn't, never had and never would...until he shut it for them and pushed those noses right into the dirt.

We'd been tight with Jenny since the fifth grade and both had our troubles in the school yard because of it. I tended to get shoved around alot and called some pretty shitty stuff, but my little legs were quick and I wasn't ever too proud to run so it was only a few times in those early days that Keith had to save my ass. He wasn't nearly as brutal back then but when he was in the mix it wasn't a rare thing for young boys to go home with tooth and nail marks or bruises and scrapes even at ten years old. We got suspended plenty of times, somehow it was always our fault even when it wasn't. Jenny knew the deal, hell she loved us for it. That should of told me something then, but hell I was just a boy.

As we pushed on through middle school and moved forward into that god forsaken high school, things just seemed to change little by little. Jenny, who always was the prettiest girl we'd ever seen, started to blossom. All those boys that teased and pushed us in those early years started turning hungry eyes her way. Things change but always stay the same. The insults were still there, just a bit more subtle. A sneer here, a smirk there and whispers every damn where. Hell, I just couldn't take it no more. I started to withdraw and left Keith and Jenny to it; she was Keith's girl any way, he'd staked his claim on her the first time we ever saw her. With me around less and less, Keith got into more trouble with more violence and worse consequences. I reckon Jenny couldn't take it no more either and one Thursday she told him so. That was the start of it...well unless you wanted to trace that shit back to birth.


"I don't have to take this shit, Jenny, from you or anybody else. You don't wanna be my girl then get the fuck outta my face. Carry your sassy Spic ass down the hallway. It's a free country, last I heard."

Everybody in the hallway stared at them, fucking mouths hanging open. He knew they'd heard this shit before. Him and Jenny had been fightin' a shit ton lately, ever since Bruce started his little disappearing act. Fuck em, let one of these skinny motherfuckers get in his face. It wouldn't happen again anytime soon after he choked the shit out of them.

He looked at Jenny as she just stared at him, tears trailing down her cheeks. First time her ass has ever been speechless. He almost laughed then those damn firecrackers going off in his head just kept making him more and more pissed. He hadn't meant to call her a spic, but sometimes he just couldn't fucking think straight and the only thing to do was lash out. Bruce would want him to apologize, hell, probably get down on one knee and beg for fucking forgiveness, but Bruce was a cowardly little pissant who would probably be dead by now if it weren't for Keith.


"Shut up, bitch. We're done." Keith says as he pivots and stalks away from her. The only girl he'll ever love, but all good things come to an end. He manages to slam shoulders with a couple of football players on the way out, his eyes just begging for them to say something, do something, any fucking thing.

Keith knew tonight was going to be a big party night. Last Thursday before the final football game of the season. Hell, he knew where the fucking party was gonna be. Over at Eric Harlin's house. That pretty boy quarterback. Every damn person at school will be there, even Jenny. Those boys slobbered over her like she was a piece of fresh apple pie, hell that's what pissed him off to begin with. Those fucking meatheads ogling his goddamn girl. It never used to be like that. He would be at that party and to hell with anybody who didn't like it.


"You shouldn't go, Keith. You know what's gonna happen. Sombody's gonna get hurt."

You're damn right. I'm gonna fuck those pretty boys up and Jenny's gonna watch me do it."

"What's wrong with you man, that aint going to help. She's over that shit. Just tell her you're sorry tomorrow."

"Sometimes you're such a pussy. I ain't apologizing for shit."

"Well if your mind is set, I can't let you go alone. I'm gonna be there for ya if it gets sticky. "

"Oh, great. Now you decide to show the fuck up. Suit yourself. Let's get to it."

When they get to the party it's already in full swing. Music cranked, every damn body drinking or drunk. Keith scans the house for signs of Jenny but doesn't see her anywhere. Bruce asks a couple of kids about her. "Yeah, she was in the kitchen with Becky and the rest of the cheerleaders. They were gettin wasted man. That Bitch looked good to go."

"Shut your fuckin' mouth." Keith says, stepping by and moving toward the kitchen. The kitchen is full of kids, but none of them Jenny or even Becky for that matter. He looks around and there's not a single football player in the mix. Damn music so loud, grinding into his head, hard to think. Where the fuck is she?

Keith sees Becky walking out of a bedroom, drink in one hand, joint in the other, laughing as she notices him looking at her.

"Where's Jenny!"

"She left man, said this party was lame without you. It was about fifteen minutes ago, You can probably still catch up with her."

That's all he needed. Time to blow this joint. He heads for the door, Bruce hot on his heels. Shit, if Jenny wasn't at the party anymore, then shit with her could wait until tomorrow, his head felt like it was gonna crack wide open from that shitty music they were playing.

"Let's go home brother."

"You got it, for once I like where your head's at!"


Friday at school the whispers were getting to him. Hell, he couldn't fight every damn body and no one would talk to him about what was going on. It seemed like some crazy shit had gone down at that party last night and he had a strange feeling that Jenny was right in the thick of it. Once again, he found himself looking for her, but she seemed to be avoiding him. Today was a half day, nothing much going on but a stupid pep rally at ten. Maybe he'd get to the bottom of this shit then.

At about nine forty-five he saw her, surrounded by the football team and actually holding hands with Eric fucking Harlin. He grabs Harlin's shoulder and spins him out of the way. "What the Fuck are you doing Jenny?"
"Whatever I want. It's a free country, right?"

"This better be a joke. I will kill this mother fucker and all his friends."
"You Know what's a joke, Keith? You, Your temper and your rascist ass bullshit. I fucked Harlin last night and I'm going to fuck him again tonight, maybe even some of his friends."

The world was turning red. He knew she was pressing his buttons. All that shit wasn't true, but that didn't matter. At least part of it was. He could tell that much by the shit-eating grin on Eric's fat fucking face. She had been with him. The girl he loved had fucked Eric "pretty boy" Harlin. His world went blank, as it sometimes did in those worse moments.

The next moment of any real clarity came about fifteen minutes later. Keith looked around...blood was everywhere. People were screaming, running. Bodies were sprawled around him. His ears were ringing and his head was pounding. He could taste blood in his mouth and his teeth hurt, like he had been chewing on raw steak. Someone was squirming beneath him and he looked down to see his hands wrapped around Jenny's neck. Her eyes bulged, her fucking face was blue and he knew she would be dead soon too. Suddenly he couldn't breathe, shit somebody was choking him and he knew Bruce had finally arrived.


They say he killed twenty-five kids that Friday. Damn near the whole football team and even several of the cheer leaders. He ripped throats out with his teeth, stabbed some with a knife that came from somebody else, strangled several, just killed them kids any way you could imagine.

I didn't see none of that shit, I just got there too damn late. I just saw the aftermath, blood was every damn where. People were screaming so damn loud it was giving me probably the worst headache I ever had in my life. I just knew one thing. I could not let my brother kill Jenny. Hell, I loved her too.

I choked my brother until he died right in front of me, I reckon I owed him that one. My hands didn't come off his neck until the very moment his came off of hers.

Jenny is still alive. Sometimes she even comes and visits with me for a while, but she must be getting old too cause every once and a while she'll call me Keith. Man that really pisses me off.


"Is he still looking at that picture of the old high school?"

"Yeah, he does that all day, every day."

"What's his deal?"

"Keith Bruce Rivers. Really prefers to be called Bruce. I mean really. You don't want to mess up and call him by his first name. Multiple personality disorder. Killed over twenty people. They say he was supposed to be an identical twin, but the other one didn't make it. Strangled on the cord."

"There are too many crazy stories in this place."

"They don't call it the nut house for nothing."

School's out
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