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Some Things

by Fred Vogel


               


Fred has been published in Literally Stories, Straylight, Crack the Spine, Clever, Literary Orphans, Unbroken Journal, and elsewhere. He lives in Oregon.


I took out my key and opened the door to my brother's home.

The only item in the foyer was a claw-foot curio with a black Egyptian incense burner in the image of Cleopatra lying on her stomach with outstretched arms. This was my brother's favorite knick-knack. The curio held maps and tour books inside its thin metal-latticed doors.

To the right was the den with the worn blue leather couch, bookended by gray marble tables and turquoise lamps. There was the oft-used fireplace, its mantel lined with my sister-in-law Pat's precious Limoges collection. The built-in bookcases featured biographies and books on wine. A wood rack displayed hundreds of CD's, the artists arranged in alphabetical order. My brother's forty-year old Martin guitar stood upright in its case in the corner, having not been played since Pat's death a year ago. The closet was where they stored their wine.

The kitchen held little interest, except for the vast array of cookbooks. Pat was a wonderful cook. Having dinner and sharing a bottle of wine with them was one of the true pleasures of my existence. The window above the sink overlooked the back yard where Pat had spent her leisure time cultivating the vegetable garden, now nothing more than an overgrown eyesore, as the caterpillars and beetles had moved on to lusher grounds.

I wandered into the living room and settled into my brother's favorite chair. This was where they had listened to music and discussed the state of the world.

As I climbed the stairs, the memory of his panicked call hit me like an unexpected slap. It was the morning he had awoken to her lifeless body next to his. His wife, such a lovely sweetheart of a woman. If truth be told, I was in love with her as well. I don't think either of them knew. I did my best to keep it secret.

In my brother's writing room were more book cases, lined with books on political satire, poetry, baseball, science fiction, and fly fishing. There were photos of their trips to Florence, Paris, and the Napa Valley. There was a black and white of the small marlin my brother had caught off the Gulf of Mexico when he was but eleven. There was the antique desk where he had written a majority of his screenplays.

With trepidation, I entered the bedroom. This was where the two had slept, made love, and died.

It had been a torturous year for my brother, a burden he found impossible to bear. I sat on the side of the bed where he had fallen forever asleep and assured him that what he did was both understandable and forgivable. I told him I loved him and eased my way back down the stairs.

I boxed up the wine and put it in my car. I went back inside, retrieved the Martin and Cleopatra, and headed home. There are some things that are just too precious to leave behind.


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