Hey Bro

Jeff and Kevin-Toddler Cowboys

My brother’s birthday was Saturday the 23rd. This is my favorite photo of us, Kevin’s on the right. I had wanted to post this excerpt on that day but I realized I’ve become a better writer since I’ve started this blog and I wanted to clean it up a bit. I started the blog in the hopes of attracting an audience and then an agent, the purpose being to eventually get this book published. It’s my love letter to my brother and I just hope that the re-write I’m working on results in a tribute to his memory. And something he would have laughed at, because I always used to be able to make him laugh and I miss that tons.  So here it is, the short beginning of the book:

Borrowed From Heaven

I scrubbed as hard as I could to get the stench of powder blue tuxedo out of my skin.   All I got were bruised elbows from the tiny shower and the stain of embarrassment from wearing that suit for the second time in my life.  I didn’t know until a year later how ridiculous I looked at the high school prom but now, as a forty year old, I could totally appreciate the lameness of the outfit.   I had to wear it for my twenty-seventh attempt at doing something to get noticed in Hollywood and my reward was another spec commercial that would never be aired. Mostly because it was just so stupid.

“Cut, cut,” the director had yelled.  “Jed come here.”

“That’s Jeff.”

“It needs to be more magical.  When you make the dove appear, I need it to flap its wings immediately, as if it materialized in flight.  It has to represent the airline’s slogan, ‘We’re ready to fly anytime!’”

“I can’t train the dove.  They’re dumb.  Doves are just pretty pigeons,” I said.  “Underneath they’re the same, disgusting birds that back in Chicago would make you walk around them.

“I didn’t hire a comedian, I hired a magician. Let’s get this shot before it starts to get light out.  Can I get another espresso please?”  The director walked back to his chair but the brain that knew it was smarter than this film school dropout wasn’t finished yet.

“Why aren’t we shooting this during the day, if it’s about flight? You know blue skies and all?” I said.

He turned toward me so that the greased point of his hair looked like it was giving me the finger.  “Because it is supposed to show that even in the dark of night, they take you up into the sky.  Which is represented by your tuxedo.  Now if you’d like to get paid, let’s get the shot.”

They hadn’t told me about the tux or the idea or that the payment was deferred when I called, I had merely answered another ad hoping this would be my big break. After the late night shoot, I just tried to buff the memory away with my towel as I exited the bathroom into my living room slash kitchen slash office and looked into the mirror.  Staring back at me was a man who looked very confused.  Why had I left my family, friends and a career in this bad economy?  Has the economy ever been good?  Why do women in L.A. wear Ugg boots when it’s eighty-eight degrees?  Why are there no medium-sized dogs here?  My brain has restless synapse syndrome.  Maybe that was just to distract it from the real thoughts:  I’m scared, my money was nearly gone and I wasn’t the famous magician I’d dreamt of being since I was ten.

I reached into my dresser and applied deodorant. As I looked at my empty calendar I realized there really wasn’t any reason to smell good, and since not a lot of women past thirty liked going dutch to 7-11, I was going to be alone to fill out a dozen more job applications online. I knew that people had endured really crappy jobs before they realized their dream in Hollywood, I just needed to find one before I joined the homeless bidding war.

“Frickadoodle.”

“What the-“ I spun around looking for the source of the sound.  When the toaster oven, laptop and cell phone didn’t speak up, I turned back to the mirror.

“Great, now you’re hearing things,” I said as I rubbed my bald head.   “And it’s your brother’s nonsense word that you’re hearing.”  Suddenly my brother’s face appeared in the mirror.

“Frickadoodle.”

This time when I spun, I lost my balance and hit the dresser, then the wall, and ended up on the floor facing nothing but futon and floor lamp.  My heart was racing, my breathing crazy loud and I thought my mind was about to thumb a ride from the crazy train.

“Hey Bro.”

I slammed my head against the wall as I looked up, and standing there was my brother Kevin.  And oh yeah, he’s dead.

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