THE LAST OUTLAW IN RIVERFORD

THE LAST OUTLAW IN RIVERFORD
by Todd Robinson

Seems like it should go without saying, but nobody ever expected much of a man named Bork Bobienski.

Bork’s father, a lifetime resident of Riverford Massachusetts (other than the odd years he spent in Bridgewater State Prison), spent that lifetime being a general pain in the ass to the city and the outlying region as a whole. The least of his crimes being misspelling Raymond Bourque’s name on the birth certificate of his youngest son.

I got off easy when it was time to name his firstborn, Cam Neely being his favorite Bruins player of all time. Only so many ways one can fuck up the name Cam and the gods of birth names and hockey were smiling down on me the day I popped out of Nancy Bobienski’s nethers on that cold day in 1987.

My daddy, Duncan Bobienski, was three things. A hockey fan, a criminal with more imagination than brains or drive, and a father. My father and Bork’s father.

(I should note that those three particulars that made up my daddy are listed in the order in which he was a success.)

But maybe I'm not fair to Duncan. He never beat us. We never went without a meal, even if the odd dinner consisted of Cumberland Farm's bologna rolled around a healthy squirt of EZ Cheez. And he never missed giving me a phone call on my birthday. He could be drunk off his nut at Coppers or behind a prison wall, but on each and every January 13th the phone would ring, and Duncan would congratulate me on the anniversary of the last time I saw a pussy face-first.

His words, not mine.

Which is why, when January 14th rolled around with no jangle from Duncan the day before, I knew something was wrong.

I prepared myself for the worst when I pulled into the trailer park on the northernmost tip of Riverford. Not too many people lived year-round in the Sandy Palms campsite. It was the discount site for seasonal campers who didn’t have the vacation funds to get nearer than eighty miles from the nearest beach on Cape Cod.

I pulled my pickup in front of his old Winnebago Chieftan up on the cinder blocks. My feet crunched on dry leaves as I tippy-toed myself high enough to look through the shuttered window. Duncan was facedown on the couch, a mostly-empty bottle of Johnny Walker on the floor next to his hand.

Old bastard finally drank his way out of remembering my birthday.

It hurt more than I thought it would, frankly.

I smacked my hand hard against the aluminum panel, startling Duncan’s Boston Terrier, who began yipping his brains out. Price is Right blared from the little TeeVee atop a milk crate. Duncan only liked to watch the old Bob Barker episodes on the Game Show Network.

I banged harder on the wall, rattling the slats.

Duncan didn’t so much as twitch.

Shit.

Duncan’s dog, Zdeno, barked and scratched a rhythm at the door. I pulled my old laminated Blockbuster Membership Card out of my wallet. I'd held onto the relic for just such an occasion since there wasn't a credit company in the world dumb enough to stamp the name of a Riverford Bobienski on a card. Even mine.

I slid the card into the jamb and popped it up, hoping Duncan forgot to engage the deadbolt. The door sprang open, and Zdeno bolted out the door. I tried to grab his haunches with my frozen fingers as he passed between my knees, but he squirted through. His little Boston Terrier legs skidded in the frost as he awkwardly ran for the treeline. “Goddammit,” I muttered.

Then the stink hit my nose, ran down my spine, into my stomach, then back up into my brain where I recognized what it was, the collected odors of not just a life poorly lived but also a life poorly ended.

And that was that.

*****

I called the ambulance to confirm what I already knew.

While I waited, I watched a little yodeler fall off a cliff while Bob Barker sympathized.

I knew how that yodeler felt.

That goddamn yodeler was Duncan’s favorite part of the show. Nothing ever made him laugh harder than the failure of the contestant which led to the yodeler toppling off the cliff, cutting the song short as the figure on the stick plummeted to puppeted death.

But there he lay. Not so much as a chuckle outta the old bastard.

Something welled up, but I swallowed hard and pushed it back down.

I aided its suppression by drinking the dregs of Johnny Walker and the beer in Duncan’s fridge. And if you think it's morbid to drink a dead man's whiskey—well, you've never met a Bobienski.

I was half in the bag, watching Plinko when the EMT’s arrived.

One of the EMT's was cursed with a nose that made him look more than a little like the buzzard from Bugs Bunny. Upon entering the trailer, he got a snootful of the tainted air and immediately gagged, stating, "Aw shit, kid. He dead."

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the kind of person that the residents of Riverford rely on to save lives.

Without much more fuss, a young RPD officer took my statement while looking, hoping to find any signs of foul play to liven up his day. He left disappointed, and Duncan was wrapped up like a Hot Pocket and wheeled out of his home for the last time.

Which led me to the next hurdle.

Now I had to find my little brother to let him know that his daddy was gone.

I picked up Duncan’s phone. Of course, there was no dial tone. I was surprised that Duncan had enough to keep the propane tank to heat the trailer. There was still a pay phone outside Cumberland Farms. I’d call Bork from there. I couldn’t dodge being in his presence forever, but I was sure as hell going to put it off as long as possible.

I was about to leave when I kicked over the dog's bowl. A strip of silver duct tape was stuck to the side of the purple bowl, handwritten in Sharpie on the tape—Zdeno.

Old fuck couldn’t spell Bourque right when it came time to name his son, but he could manage Zdeno Chara’s name for the dog.

And that, pallies, was Duncan in a nutshell.

I felt bad about leaving the dog to his own, so I opened the front door and shook the half-bag of dog chow in the night air. Nothing. Shook it again, making the kibbles rattle louder.

Sure enough, Zdeno broke from the closest line of trees, huffing and puffing.

I poured him a full bowl and watched him wolf it down.

By the time I’d filled a saucepan with water for him, he was knocking the empty bowl around on the floor with a clatter.

I placed the water on the floor and scratched Zdeno behind the ears. “Slow down there, buddy. Probably won’t have more until tomorrow.” I gave him another half-bowl before I left, which he was already heartily digging into before the door shut behind me.

There’s a metaphor somewhere in there about the sense-versus-gluttony disconnect that seems to infect the men (and now the dogs) in the Bobienski family. But it was going to take a smarter man than me to figure out what it was.

I popped a quarter into the pay phone at Cumby’s and dialed Bork’s number from the slip of paper I kept in my wallet. Above what should have been the current number were his three previous numbers, each crossed out as provider after provider cut off his service.

Like father, like son.

I took a deep breath and exhaled a frozen plume up into the buzzing streetlight. I was going to have to go to pop's place.

*****

I tramped my way up the snow-piled steps to Bork’s girlfriend’s tenement that hadn’t been shoveled since probably ever.

I gritted my teeth and pressed the doorbell. Nothing. Did anything work with these two? I knocked hard on the door and waited.

Geena violently opened the door in her bathrobe—her uncinched bathrobe. “Oh, baby, are you okay?” She gave me a bony hug, pressing her small withered self against me. Her nest of platinum hair smelled of cheap weed, Jagermeister, and Kool menthols.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” I said, taking her carefully by the shoulders and peeling her off of me.

Through bleary eyes, she focused enough to see that I wasn’t Bork. She blinked twice. “Cam?”

“Yep.”

“Bork’s not here,” she said. “What’d that idiot do now?”

“Nothing, probably. Or at least nothing that I know about. Duncan passed away.” The words were out of my mouth before I could put a stop to them. It was the first time I’d said the words since I’d come across his carcass. I wasn't surprised to find any emotion following the statement other than regret that I’d said the words to Geena.

“Oh, baby, are you okay?” she said, opening her arms wide and also opening her robe to the frigid air and me. The cold puckered her gray nipples at me.

I tried not to look. Really, I did. At least I was able to keep my eyes above the equator.

I closed her robe at the waist, carefully avoiding touching anything that we’d both regret, sidestepping her embrace at the same time.

She took a step back, playing the coquette, but I knew better. She cinched the dirty blue terrycloth and smiled in an approximation of self-consciousness.

“He over at Coppers?” I asked.

“That’s probably a safe bet. Should I call?”

“Your phone’s been cut off.”

“Oh yeah,” she said. “Sure there’s nothing that I can do to make you feel better, baby?” She let the bathrobe slip open while she put her hand to my chest.

“I’m good.”

“Can I bum a cigarette from you before you go, then?”

I opened my pack to her, and she took my second-to-last smoke without any remorse.

“Light?”

I flared my Zippo and held it to the tip of her cigarette before the thought occurred to me.

“Wait a minute.”

“What?” Geena held her hand behind herself, in case whatever I’d realized might lead me to take the cigarette away from her.

“When you opened the door, you thought I was Bork.”

“Yeah. So?”

“You said ‘Oh baby, I’m so sorry.’”

“And?”

“Why?”

Geena took a long drag, then quickly moved the cigarette back into a defensive position. “Duh. Your daddy’s dead.”

“How did you know that before I told you?”

“Turtle Bob said. He came here looking for Bork before.”

“How the fuck did Turtle Bob find out?”

“I dunno, his cousin is a paramedic.”

Goddammit. I thought that there was something familiar about the ambulance driver. All of the Fitzgeralds in the tri-county bore that same ridiculous nose.

“How long before I got here?”

Geena made a disdainful face at me. “I don’t know. Before before.”

I ran back to my car. If I didn’t get to Bork before Turtle Bob did…

You know what? I didn’t have a finish to that thought.

But you could bet on it being something stupid.

*****
Over many decades and many nights in bars with gullible drunks, Duncan had built himself up as an outlaw legend—a legend about as plausible as that of the Pukwudgie in the Freetown woods. But where most kids spent their nights talking about their cousin's run-ins with the porcupine monster, Bork would swagger around with tales of our old man's run-ins with the local law. For Bork, the Legend of Duncan was made up of both the Dukes of Hazzard rolled into one, with sprinklings of Robin Hood and the A-Team.

Bork dreamed of being like the old man one day.

A lot of little boys believe that their daddies are something more than human—superheroes, lords of their domains, the biggest and the strongest. Sooner or later, those little boys become men and see their fathers for the humans that they are, flaws and all. I was the “sooner” part, when on my sixteenth birthday, my father gave me two cartons of Marlboros and a second-hand Zippo. Three hours later, the cops showed up and arrested Duncan, confiscating my two cartons along with the other forty-four that he’d lifted from a truck in Attleboro earlier that day.

Bork was the “later.” Thirty-two years old, and he still couldn’t see Duncan for the mess of humanity that was as plain as the nose on Turtle Bob’s face. And Duncan loved what Bork saw in him, never doing a damned thing to discourage his son from buying into his self-appointed image as a Massachusetts cowboy.

I went to light a cigarette when I realized that I was about to use that same beat-up Zippo from my sixteenth birthday. The cops let me keep that. I tossed the lighter into the back seat and popped the car’s lighter instead.

*****

When I walked into Coppers, I could feel an ugliness in the mood of the old place stronger than the standard ugliness when your regular customers are laid-off mill workers, truck drivers, and women who look like they just fell out the back of said trucks.

The bartender was a girl I recognized from high school—Patty or Patsy. We all called her Pasty back in the day, so I stuck with that mentally.

“You gotta—“

“I’m gonna,” I said. “How bad is he?”

“Well, his daddy…” Pasty froze, her face blanching as she remembered that his daddy was also my daddy. “Oh…oh… I think you have to talk to Bork about it.”

I took two steps then stopped. “How long they been here?”

“Hour or so?”

An hour.

Or so.

By my best estimate, that was enough time for Bork to drink himself into a near coma.

I got halfway down the stairs and thought about just walking back up and out the door. Bork had the news, and I didn’t need the grief. I didn’t need his grief.

But the voice of my mother whispered in my ear. “He’s your little brother. He needs you right now.”

“Dammit, Ma,” I thought to her ghost.

I tromped down the last few steps to see my brother bent over in a booth, face buried in his bony hands. Turtle Bob stood in front of him, a bottle of Wild Turkey held over his head. They were the only customers down there.

“To the last outlaw in Riverford!” Turtle Bob toasted, then handed Bork the bottle.

Bork took a long swallow, then let out a mournful moan.

I didn’t bother asking where they got the Wild Turkey, as Coppers was hardly the type of bar to offer bottle service.

I cleared my throat. Turtle Bob started, backing into a table and nearly toppling on top of it. Bork looked over, a fight in his eyes for whoever it was that had interrupted him.

The fight in him was quickly replaced with a childlike sorrow when he saw me. “Cam, oh Cam. A great man has passed.” He stood from the booth and lurched toward me. I caught him before he could bowl us both over. He shoved the bottle into my hand. “Have a drink with me, brother. Let’s have a drink for Dad.”

I slid him into the closest booth and placed the bottle out of his reach. “Think it’s time I got you home, Bork. Where’s your coat?”

“I’m not going anywhere! I’m celebrating the life of a man,” he said.

“The man,” Turtle Bob said. “Last real goddamn man in this county.”

“You, shut your pie-hole,” I said to Turtle Bob, then turned back to Bork. “I know that logistics aren’t exactly your forté, but we’ve got things we need to discuss tomorrow, and I don’t want to have to do it with your dumb ass hungover.”

“Like the treasure,” Bork said, his eyes lighting up.

“Like the…what the fuck are you talking about?”

“Daddy’s treasure,” Bork said.

I shook my head. “The wake. The funeral. Real things, Bork.”

“He don’t believe in your daddy’s treasure,” Turtle Bob said with a sneer.

“Turtle Bob, I have to tell you one more time to close your mouth, I’m going to bite that lump of Laffy Taffy you call a nose right off your face.”

Turtle Bob raised his hands and turned around, stumbling the few steps between him and the whiskey bottle before returning to his booth at the far end.

“We need to find Daddy’s treasure, Cam. His stash from all the jobs he pulled. It’s ours now; we just need to work as a family and find it. It’s what Daddy would have wanted. You and me.” Bork was looking up at me with such deluded hope in his eyes that I felt the first pangs of pity I’d felt for him in years. He truly believed there was a treasure. He really did.

I was dumbfounded. “Where on God’s green earth did you get that idea?”

“Matty Souza told me,” Turtle Bob said from his booth. “Your daddy said to him.”

What Turtle Bob was to Bork, Matty was to Duncan. Duncan could have told Matty that he was engaged to Angelina Jolie and Matty would have asked when the wedding date was.

I blew out a long breath. “Bork, there’s no treasure. Duncan wasn’t Long John Silver. He was…” I couldn’t finish the sentence. Any words I was going to use to describe Duncan would have equally applied to Bork. And despite it all, I didn’t want to hurt my brother any more than he was already hurting. “Fine. We’ll talk about the treasure tomorrow. Meantime—“

“He don’t believe in the treasure, Bork,” said Turtle Bob, standing up from his booth.

I clenched my fist. The sudden need to hit something filled me, and Turtle Bob seemed eager to make himself the recipient.

“You never respected our father,” Bork said, quickly upshifting into anger. “You never respected the man.” He tried to stand, but I easily shoved him back down into the scarred wood of the bench.

I put my finger in Bork’s face. “Listen, I know you’re hurting, and you want to lash out at something, but your night is not going to end on a high note if you keep this shit up, little brother. Go home, sober up, and quit talking nonsen—the fuck are you doing, Turtle Bob?”

Turtle Bob had scuttled up behind me, then went to his hands and knees, as though he’d dropped a contact lens.

Then Bork said, “Shoes untied.”

And I, abandoning all sense and completely forgetting that I was dealing with two boneheads who never advanced their way of thinking further than the schoolyard, looked down.

At my loafers.

FUN FACT: Bobienskis have strangely thick foreheads. My mother used to joke that it was developed over the course of several generations of Bobienski mothers dropping their babies on their heads rather than spill their vodka. My great, great uncle Stanislaw Bobienski supposedly had a 44-1 boxing record, the one loss coming via a bear he’d agreed to fight at a circus passing through Bialystok. The drunken bear trainer forgot to muzzle the animal before he led it into the ring. If the legend is to be believed, Uncle Stanislaw led with his famous right cross. The bear countered by biting Uncle Stanislaw’s head off, putting an end to his undefeated career.

But since that story was one that Duncan passed down, it was more than likely not to be believed. What wasn’t contestable as fiction, however, was that the Bobienski clan was comprised of a bunch of thick-headed motherfuckers, myself included.

So, yeah. I looked down at my shoes while Bork drew his legs underneath himself and sprung up, driving his greasy knotted-bone forehead right into the point of my jaw.

The Bobienski jaws? Not as thick as our foreheads.

My head snapped pack, starbursts exploding behind my eyes. Then the backs of my knees caught on the crouched Turtle Bob, sending me airborne. I crashed down onto the floor, the back of my head colliding with the cement. Before I was able to come within three blocks of my senses, I felt Bork’s hands in my pockets and Turtle Bob rifling through my jacket.

“I got his car keys,” Bork said.

Turtle Bob rolled me half over and slipped my wallet out of my back pocket. “I got the wallet. Let’s go.”

“That’s it, Bork…” I mumbled through thick lips.

Bork crouched next to me. “You’re right, Cam. That is it. I know you think I’m dumb. I know you don’t believe that Daddy was worth a shit. But you’re wrong. And if you don’t want to believe that he had a treasure stash, that’s fine. More for me. But you’re sure as fuck not going to stop me from getting what’s mine.”

My vision cleared just in time to see Bork’s bony fist on its way to my temple.
 

*****

 “You dead?”

I opened my eyes, unsure for a moment where I was or why my head was stuck to the floor. Pasty stood at the bottom of the stairs, hands on her hips, clearly irritated with the possibility that I’d gone and shuffled off my mortal coil while on her shift. “Nope. Felt better, though.”

Slowly, I pried my head off the floor and took note of my situation. No car keys and no wallet—which amounted to no car. I went to see what those pricks had left me in my pockets, but my fingers only found cold skin.

Sonsabitches took my pants.

“You got a car?” I asked Pasty, stopping myself before I called her Pasty.

“Nope.”

“How do you not have a car?”

Pasty stuck out her pinkie finger and tilted her thumb toward her mouth. “Glug glug,” she said.

I found my boots under the table—must be my lucky day. “How are you getting home?”

Pasty winced. “Yeah, that was the next thing. My boyfriend is coming to pick me up soon. He’s not going to be happy to find me alone in here with a man bleeding in his Fruit of the Looms. You really gotta leave.”

I looked around. “Where am I supposed to go? I have no car, no money, and no damn pants!”

Pasty shrugged. “Not my monkeys, not my circus. You can look in the utility closet. There’s a lost-and-found box in there.” She pointed at a green door with the 2009 Red Sox schedule pinned to it.

“What do you think the odds are that somebody left a pair of 32-longs in the bar?”

“You have about ten minutes before he gets here.”

I’d seen Pasty with her boyfriend at the Union Social Club. He was a pituitary case with a shaved head and an expression that one associated with somebody waiting on a root canal. He also had the logo of a defunct energy drink tattooed on the back of his neck.

I planned on getting out before he arrived.

Nobody had recently left their pants behind at Coppers. I did find a cheap sweatshirt, XXL, which I was able to step into upside-down and duct tape to myself just below my belly button. Then I stripped off the material from a pair of umbrellas and wrapped the nylon around my feet and up to my knees. Also held in place with duct tape.

  

*****

It was about six miles back to Duncan’s trailer on that windblown winter morning.

When I finally arrived at the stretch of gravel that led up to Sandy Palms, I stuck to the side of the road, so as not to alert Bork and Turtle Bob to my approach. I was fairly sure that they figured incapacitating me would buy them enough time to search for the imaginary treasure and be gone before I arrived.

I didn’t quite know what I was going to do to convince them of the Quixotic nature of their quest since I would also have to define Quixotic for them.

That said, the tactic I’d unconsciously settled on was apparently going to be a harshly violent one. I realized this when I noticed the sizeable chunk of the branch I was carrying in my left hand; I had no memory of picking up. But, since my concussed lizard brain went through all that trouble, the least I could do was use it.

Downwind from the two, I could just get a whiff of whatever they were smoking off the tinfoil. It was definitely an amphetamine of one kind or another, as they’d dug themselves an impressive pile of dirt out from underneath Duncan’s mobile home in a short amount of time.

So engrossed were they with keeping the tinfoil steady in the blustering wind that they first noticed that I was behind them only after I’d brought the thick branch down onto Turtle Bob’s collarbone. His shoulder made a popping sound like a cheap champagne cork, and he dropped right quick, howling to the cold sky. The dry wood shattered along with his clavicle.

Their foil jumped, sparks catching the wind and blowing into Bork’s face. “My eyes!” he shrieked, swatting at the embers.

My simmering anger boiled over at Bork’s earlier sucker-headbutt. I tossed what was left of the branch aside and yelled, “Where the fuck do you get off?” I threw a wild right at his temple, but Bork was already backing away and my legs tangled on the writhing Turtle Bob. My punch flew wide of Bork's stupid face as momentum and gravity caught the best of me, and I fell on top of Turtle Bob.

“My arm!” Turtle Bob shrieked as I drop-squatted right on his newly rearranged skeleton. “You broke my fucking arm!”

“Your neck is next, you piece of shit.” I rolled off of Turtle Bob and got to my feet just as Bork was bellying his way underneath the trailer like a frightened dog. “Where do you think you're going, dummy?”

I grabbed at his ankle and tried to pull him out, but either the drugs, the panic, or pure wiry strength kept him tightly in place. If he made it under, I had no idea how I would get him back out, since there wasn’t enough room under the trailer for me.

Then Bork turned, and I pulled him back just enough to see him yank a pistol out from under his shirt.

I let him go, diving and rolling to my left as he fired two shots. The first bullet skittered in the dirt, inches from my foot. The second blew off a chunk of the cinderblock holding the trailer up, spattering my plastic-bagged legs painfully.

Have you lost your goddamn mind? I hollered.

“You’re not taking this away from me!” Bork yelled. “You never believed in me, you never believed in Dad, and you don’t believe in the treasure. But I do!”

I rolled behind a short tree stump, then thought better of Bork’s possible trajectories and hopped atop it instead. “My belief system has nothing to do with you attacking me and taking my goddamn pants! And where did you get that gun?”

“It was Daddy’s gun! Now it’s mine. You believe in guns, Cam?” Bork fired twice again, the first bullet sailing past the stump and hitting my bumper.

“Stop shooting, you idiot!”

“Not until you leave. Get in your car, drive away, and don’t ever come back. You didn’t want any part of us before, you sure as shit don’t get to have any of what’s left.”

“Fine. But I’m taking the dog, and I’m taking my car. You can freeze your dumb ass when you’re left with nothing but a hole in the ground.” And as I said it, I realized that I’d just expressed the best metaphor for a lifetime with Duncan.

Lots of promises of treasure.

Lots of empty holes.

I hopped off the stump and hustled over to the trailer steps before Bork could draw a bead on my ankles.

I opened the trailer and scooped up Zdeno as he tried to run past me out the door again. He began licking my face as I grabbed his food bowl and the small bag of kibble next to it.

Then the trailer shifted.

Ever so slightly.

“Bork, get out of there,” I yelled, running for the door just as the cinderblock that Bork had nicked shattered with a loud crack.

As the first block went, the shifting weight of the trailer threw the other blocks off-balance, toppling or crumbling.

Bork yelled, “I don’t think—” just as the trailer fell.

Before the reality of what had just happened hit me, Turtle Bob screamed, “Bork!” and lurched around the back of the trailer, trying to lift it with his one good arm.

And that's when the propane tanks exploded.

I had no idea why the world around me turned into a Michel Bay movie, but later the fire marshal said the lines must have popped loose from the tank and caught a spark when the trailer shifted.

Whatever afterlife Bork passed into, Turtle Bob followed him seconds later.

The force of the blast's concussion knocked me back twenty feet.

And that’s how the Riverford Fire Department found us an hour later when they bothered to see what the explosion was all about.

*****

I’ve gone back to Duncan’s every couple of days in an attempt to find Zdeno. He must have run and hid after the blast knocked him out of my arms. I go out there and yell his name for a few minutes, then give up and go home. Maybe the dog is smarter than Duncan, Bork, or me and figures it’s in his best interest to keep clear of the Bobienski family.

Smart dog.

I looked around at the open lot where Duncan’s trailer once stood, looked at the depression left by the propane explosion. The biggest hole in the ground yet. Smack dab in the middle of the crater was the torn-open bag of dog kibble. I couldn’t tell if the bag had been torn by shrapnel, or from Zdeno on his return to what was once his home, finding only a little bit of food and a crater.

I figured I’d give it one more shot.

I stepped into the two-foot deep hole and shook the bag loudly. Nothing.

But there was something weird under that bag, a hard-defined edge right under the layer of dirt that had settled after the blast.

I brushed off the dirt to find the faceplate of an old tumbler safe, embedded in a small block of concrete.

And buried under Duncan’s goddamn trailer.

I ran back to my car, opened the glove compartment, and took out Duncan’s key ring. Why a man with only two doors to a trailer and one buried safe would have so many keys is beyond me. Finally, I found the right key and opened Bork’s treasure chest.

The first thing my fingers found was the money.

All two hundred dollars of it, rubber-banded tens and twenties.

Then came the real surprise.

The small book of photographs.

I sat down on the dirt when I opened to the first photo.

It was Duncan and my mother’s wedding day. I’d never before seen a photograph from that day. Duncan looked less like a shady-natured piece of shit, and more like a kid with a mischievous streak.

I’d never seen my mother as happy as she looked in that picture.

Tucked into the sleeve behind the picture were their wedding rings. Still together after all the years.

A picture of me beaming after losing my tooth in a jayvee hockey game, behind the picture, the tooth.

Me and Bork just before my teenage years down at Horseneck Beach, beaming—brothers with arms around each other.

Little boys.

Little boys who would grow into men with no regard for each other whatsoever.

Then the one report card where Bork got an A. In Science, of all things.

The newspaper clipping about how I’d broken Andrew Medeiros’s save record that had stood in Riverford High for twenty-seven years.

And then I was crying like the little boy in those pictures for a man I thought I hated and his son that…well, Bork was a fuckup that assaulted me, stole my pants, stole my car, and tried to shoot me in the legs.

But those pictures reminded me that at one point, he was my little brother, too.

And those were Duncan’s treasures.

Memories of a better time.

And two hundred bucks in tens and twenties.

Oh, and one Polaroid of somebody’s vagina.

 

TODD ROBINSON is the three-time Anthony Award nominated author of the Boo & Junior novels, THE HARD BOUNCE and ROUGH TRADE (recently picked by The Strand Magazine as one of the five best crime novels of 2016). He is also the creator of the legendary (now defunct) THUGLIT Magazine, which was nominated for (or won) more awards than he can remember. His own work has also been nominated three times for the Derringer Award, won the Stalker Award (Best Dialogue—The Hard Bounce) and the inaugural Bullet Award. His short stories have been featured in several magazines, and was recently selected for Best American Mystery Stories 2016.