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I Am My Brother's Keeper
By Steve Doyle
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Rated "PG13" by the Author.
A man is faced with a brother who believes himself to be a vampire.
I never learned the origin of his fear. It was irrational, yet I never doubted his absolute belief in it. Most people are afraid of death; my brother feared life. Eternal life. Life everlasting. He harbored an unshakable idea that his life would never end; that he was doomed to roam the earth for eternity. My brother thought he was—or was destined to become—a vampire.
I don't remember exactly when this thought began to consume him, no more than I can recall any event that could be blamed for having caused it. I first learned of it during the wake of our grandfather.
“I don't think grandpapa is really dead,” my brother whispered, pulling me aside.
“Are you mad?” I asked. “Of course he's dead. What do you think?”
“What if he rises again?”
I would have thought him joking had it not been for the fear evident in his eyes. He never was any good at hiding his emotions. He actually entertained the idea that grandpapa may sit up at any moment.
“If he rises again,” I said, “I'll personally run out to get him a sandwich as I'm sure he'll be quite famished.” My brother turned away from me, unappreciative of my humor.
Some time after the funeral his nightmares began. He would awaken in a frenzy mumbling about walking in the night, human flesh, craving blood and other such foolishness that finds fields of fertility in the imaginations of young boys. I would sit with him and comfort him until he fell asleep again.
One day he came to me with a solemn countenance. “Make me a promise.”
“What promise is that,” I asked.
“See to it that upon my death I am bound hand and foot, a stake driven through my heart.”
“What the devil are you talking about?”
“Just promise me!” His eyes pleaded for my compassion.
Partly to humor him and mostly because I never expected him to predecease me, I agreed to comply with his morbid wishes.
A sad day it was when we laid him in his coffin, decked out in the little suit that he'd worn only once before. Of course I never told our parents about the promise I'd made, and I had no intention of keeping it. Drive a stake through his heart, indeed! Ridiculous nonsense!
He has been placed in the family vault in the basement of the house on a shelf next to grandpapa. Sometimes of an evening I hear his struggles, but I dare not open the crypt to let him out. I dare not!
Site: I Am My Brother's Keeper
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|Reviewed by Steve Jensen
|Very good & effective short, Steve. Actually some of the best writing I've seen at Authors Den. Excellent.|