I consider myself a tolerant person. It takes a lot for me to lose my control, at least in my opinion. I once spent five hours in a car with an obsessive biter. In the course of our trip, she chewed through five pop bottle caps, ate four of her nails, and gnawed through my passenger side seat belt. And I never once yelled at her, not once…even as I pushed her out of the car on the side of Highway 84 while going 60 miles an hour.
I didn’t really push her out, no matter how tempted I was.
The point is I can stand a lot from annoying people. The only real pet peeve I have is speaking with proper grammar. For instance, saying ‘ain’t’ is not an option. I will correct anyone who says it. Repeat offenders will be taught lessons at gun point if necessary. I’m a Grammar-Nazi, I admit it.
I can stand ditzy blonds that say ‘like’ every five words. I can take nervous wrecks that click their pens constantly. I can even live with kids that chew gum with their mouths open and smack their bubbles. However, there is one person in this world that pushes me to the edge. One single incompetent that actually makes me contemplate putting a gun to my head and pulling the trigger. Only one obstinate, annoying and all around irritating numbskull that seriously tempts me into committing murder. And who is this redeeming individual?
My idiot brother, Shawn Spencer.
He’s the biggest moron on the face of the Earth. He can’t take anything seriously. Everything, even murder, is a joke to him. And his sole purpose in life, besides consuming as much pineapple as humanly possible, is to infuriate me to the brink of insanity. He spends every free moment of his time devising schemes to make my life as miserable as possible.
He’s the ache in my head…
The massive thorn in my side…
The bug up my…well, you get the picture.
The sad thing is that he’s twenty-six and his mental facilities haven’t matured beyond that of a twelve year old. In fact, I know four year olds that are more mature than Shawn. Heck, I’m nineteen, still technically a kid, and I’m more responsible than my imbecile of a brother.
I’ve only known him for two months (I was kidnapped as a baby, but that’s another story entirely) but ever since I met him, to my oblivious dismay, I’ve pretty much regretted it. I don’t even live with him and I still see him more than I’d like. Since I’ve moved to Santa Barbara my hair has been died blue while I slept at night, a black magic marker mustache has appeared on my face during a mid-day nap, and a revolting pineapple smoothie has been dumped on my head.
But I never imagined, through all of the suffering that he’s caused me, that I could actually miss him.
I mean, the thought of actually missing Shawn is like an inmate missing his execution. Dang, I missed my lethal injection. That just ruins my entire life. Honestly, I thought I would miss a brain tumor more than I would ever miss Shawn. Why would I miss the biggest pain in my neck, side, and back end? How could I possibly miss the immature pranks and the utter embarrassment and humiliation? You’ll have to ask my subconscious that because I don’t have the slightest clue. But I am. Missing him, I mean.
Which is ironic since I’m the one who told him to get lost. And that’s exactly what he did in the Santa Barbara Woods…alone…three days ago. The dork didn’t even think to tell anyone where he was going. All he said to Gus was: “I’m going for a hike. Don’t wait up.” Then he waltzed out of the office. He didn’t have a reason, at least a legitimate one. They weren’t working on a case. There were no clues to follow, no leads to pursue in those woods. He wasn’t going on a date with anyone. He just got up and left. Granted, I may have prompted his sudden desire to get as far away from me as possible, but it was completely his fault.
Maybe not completely. Only partially.
Actually, not even that.
Okay, it was my fault. Exclusively, wholly, and utterly my fault. There I admitted it. Happy now?
Stupid hockey puck.
Shawn really should have minded his own business. There was a reason I was out in the drive way by myself. But no, my stupid brother just had to stick his nose into things that didn’t involve him. He just had to solve the mystery.
I need a shower.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~
No one really knew Shawn was gone until the next morning when he didn’t show up at the office. He’s always late, everyone knew that, but he was always there before noon. Gus started worrying at 12:10. He called Henry, not really sure who else to complain to. The police have that stupid 48 hour policy. Morons. Henry wasn’t overly concerned at this point. Shawn was only late by ten minutes. It didn’t seem like that big of a deal. Gus agreed to relax and wait for Shawn.
He called at 1:30. Shawn still hadn’t come in.
By this time, Henry was only slightly worried, but he called Shawn’s apartment just to be sure. No one answered. He called the cell phone. He got the voice mail. Henry just shrugged it off, thinking that Shawn was probably on his way to the office and just couldn’t answer his cell because he was on his totally awesome motorcycle. My words, not Henry’s.
Gus showed up at six that night, looking anxious and pacing on our front porch. Shawn wasn’t at his apartment, his bike was gone, and his cell was still on his table at home. Now, Henry was worried.
At that point, Shawn had been missing for twenty-six hours.
Henry and Gus headed for the police station to talk to Chief Vick, knowing full well that it wouldn’t do them any good. Stupid 48 hour rule. I didn’t care. I was still fuming at Shawn from the day before and couldn’t really care less if he was home safe and sound or not. So I stayed at the house curled up on the couch, munching on Doritos and watching re-runs of MacGyver never knowing that my brother was lost somewhere and it was all my fault.
I really hate guilt.
The shower helped only slightly to clear my head. The pelting hot water felt good and released some of my built up tension, but it didn’t cure my stress. Only one thing could do that.
My clown of a brother barging through the front door with his stupid goofy smile and obliviously asking why everyone is so worked up.
That would be a dream come true.
I looked at the door and watched in astonishment as the door handle turned. But I wouldn’t be so lucky. Fate was taunting me, allowing me to think that my punishment would be cut short. No, I would still have to suffer with my guilt. Henry smiled apologetically as if reading my thoughts as he walked into the living room and took off his cap.
“Any luck?” I asked, hoping that just maybe they found a lead. But if they had, Henry wouldn’t be home right now. He shook his head.
“The rain has washed everything away.” He said stomping to the kitchen.
I looked out the window as fat rain drops hit the glass. I used to love thunderstorms, now I despise them. They were keeping the search teams from finding Shawn. Not to mention that he’s been out there for three days with little food and no shelter. I hate the rain.
“Did you have something to eat?” Henry asked.
I turned to him in the kitchen and shook my head, “I haven’t been hungry.”
He gave me a disapproving look, “You haven’t eaten anything all day.”
I shrugged, “I’m not hungry.”
He watched me as I shuffled to the table and slumped in a chair. He sighed and carried his juice and sloppily made sandwich to the chair opposite of me. He sat them down and looked at me sternly.
“Starving yourself isn’t going to get him home any faster.” He said. I looked away, “I don’t need to worry about both of you, Mychal.”
“Then don’t.” I said sharply looking back at him.
He sighed heavily, knowing better than to argue with me or just being too exhausted to put up a good fight. I really hate feeling guilty.
I got up from the table and wandered to the back patio sliding doors. I crossed my arms and watched as the rain turned the ground to mud.
The police didn’t doing anything when Henry went to them the first time, of course. That smug detective Lassiter even thought it was amusing when Henry and Gus explained the situation. He said that Shawn was probably just playing hooky. Henry wasn’t happy with him, but the Chief couldn’t do anything to help us.
Henry and Gus were on their own. The police wouldn’t help them and I sure wasn’t going to. I was still acting like a cry baby and sulking over the day before.
And I’m the mature one. Ha.
Henry took Gus to Shawn’s apartment to search for any clues. It wasn’t hard to put together. His hiking gear was gone and Shawn had told Gus that he was going for a hike. Gus just hadn’t taken him literally. Henry drove down to the ranger station to ask if Shawn had gone through. The park ranger immediately knew who he was. She said that Shawn had put on a big show claiming that he was psychic and that the ranger’s goldfish were complaining and demanding to be set free.
But she hadn’t seen him come back through and the last time she’d checked, Shawn’s bike was still in the parking lot. Henry about blew a gasket, according to Gus. He lectured the poor girl about doing her job right and keeping track of the hikers for a full thirty minutes. He wanted an immediate search party deployed. But the ranger said that wasn’t possible.
One, she was on the night shift and it was nearly one in the morning.
Two, they had no real reason to think that he wasn’t just camping out for a few days.
And three, a massive storm was coming from the Pacific and it would be dangerous for anyone to go out there.
Hence my sudden hatred of storms.
The storm blew through yesterday. The winds were so bad that trailers had been knocked over. Doors had been ripped off their hinges and statues fell to the ground, decapitating them. The rain flooded the roads and the waves were so fierce that parts of the docks had floated away that night. It wasn’t just a thunderstorm, but a monstrous tropical storm only degrees short of forming into a hurricane.
When the storm hit, Shawn had been missing for thirty-eight hours and by the time the storm had finally passed, no one had seen him for fifty-four.
Now the police decided that they could help.
And now I was worried.
The storm passed at ten last night. At dawn this morning, Henry and the police started searching the ravaged woods for my brother. I was forced to stay at home to wallow in my guilt as punishment by cruel fate. It’s noon and they haven’t found anything and Shawn’s been missing for seventy-two hours, three days.
And it’s because of me.
Stupid hockey puck.
I jumped when Henry held a hot mug of coffee in front of me. I took it and felt its warmth run through my finger tips. I didn’t want to feel warm. Shawn wasn’t warm, where ever he was. Why did I have the right to be?
“I’m going back out there.” Henry said. I didn’t answer. I felt him put a tentative hand on my shoulder, “He wouldn’t want you to be beating yourself up, Mychal.”
“I wouldn’t be able to if I could help find him.” I said.
“It’s too dangerous out there, Mychal.” Henry said, repeating the same line he’d used earlier when I tried to tag along, “There’s debris everywhere.”
I didn’t say anything and looked down at my mug. Henry squeezed my shoulder.
“I’ll call if we find anything.” He promised.
I nodded and heard his footsteps retreating to the door. The loud slam of the door reverberated through the house and reminded me of the emptiness of it and how utterly alone I felt. I looked up at the window and watched the rain drops splatter against the window. The storm may have stopped but the rain just keeps coming.
I hate the rain.
I hate guilt.
And at the moment, I hate myself.
Stupid hockey puck.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~
As a kid, I always dreamed of having an older sibling. An older sister to steal clothes from was ideal when I hit the pre-teen stage. When I was learning to drive and I started getting into spots, I wanted an older brother to hang out with. I had neither. I didn’t have any younger siblings either. My parents stopped after me, they didn’t kidnap any other children. They were unable to have any children of their own.
And then I got Shawn.
Shawn didn’t meet my awesome older brother fantasy. He didn’t even come close. My older brother was supposed to protect me. Shawn was the reason I needed protection. I refer you to the Blue Hair incident. My older brother was supposed to be fun, take me places, and help my pull pranks. Shawn pulls pranks, alright, but they’re all on me. My older brother was supposed to be mature and responsible. Shaw is, well, he’s just not. He’s just a big goof.
See where I’m going with this?
Shawn wasn’t what I had wanted. I had spent so much time and so many day dreams on what my brother should have been, I was utterly disappointed when I finally found a brother only to find Shawn. My dreams were dashed. My perfect vision of my older brother was shattered and through the broken pieces I was left with Shawn.
Shawn knows I’m not overly fond of him. He doesn’t seem too upset about it. Honestly, I don’t think he’s too fond of me either.
I need to stop thinking. I need something to do.
I should draw. That will clear my mind of a certain lost brother that I really wish would come home.
Stupid hockey puck.
I started drawing when I was twelve. Elementary art was all about construction paper and clay. I wasn’t very good at either. But my seventh grade year, our art teacher asked us to keep a sketch book. Apparently, I was very good. I drew then for a grade, I draw now for relief.
I grabbed my sketch pad and pencil and nestled on the window seat. I put the pencil on the page and let my arm move. I think it has a mind of its own because I wasn’t sure what I was even drawing.
I watched the gray lines appear on the paper and let my mind wander.
My favorite things to draw are people. I do my best to make my drawings look life-like. I’m okay at it, I guess. My mother, the kidnapper one, always said I had the greatest talent she’d ever seen.
She was lying through her teeth.
I like it when people tell me the truth about my art or anything else for that matter. I think most people just don’t wand to hurt my feelings. Shawn didn’t hold back when he first saw my drawings.
It was a week after I had moved into Henry’s house. I had carelessly left my portfolio on the dining table. I thought it was safe. Henry was at his poker party and I didn’t think anyone would just barge into the house and snatch up my work.
I should have known Shawn would because that’s exactly what he did.
I only went to check on Henry’s roast and get a glass of water and when I came back, I found my idiot brother snooping through my things. I almost dropped my glass when I saw him standing there with the door wide open behind him. And what did he do?
He looked up, gave me his goofy smile, and pointed at the drawing.
“His eyes are too close together.” He said.
I faltered, something I never do. He looked back at the page and squinted.
“And it looks like he has three nostrils.” He tilted the portfolio, “Were you trying to draw a weasel?”
I rolled my eyes, “Do you ever knock?”
I stomped to him and snatched my portfolio back.
“You know me by now, Michelangelo.” Shawn said, making me cringe. “I don’t have manners.”
“So Henry tells me.” I said.
“Seriously.” Shawn said, a word I never expected from him, “Who were you drawing?”
I gripped the portfolio until my knuckles turned white, “My father. The one we don’t share.”
Maybe it was the tone of my voice that made him stop. Or maybe he just lost interest. Either way, he dropped the subject.
“I’m going to the supermarket.” He said, randomly, “Wanna come?”
He does this to me all the time. He just says random things that have absolutely nothing to do with what we were arguing about. I swear he has ADD. But despite his randomness-if that’s even a word-it never seems to shock me. In the few short days that I had known ‘til that time I’d gotten used to his ADD.
Probably because I was just as random.
“Yeah,” I said, “Let me put this back.”
The only part of my perfect brother image that Shawn actually lived up to was riding a totally awesome motorcycle. My dad and I had fixed up an old Harley he’d left abandoned in our shed years ago. He taught me how to drive it and then later that year he had his accident.
Anyway, we took Shawn’s bike to the supermarket. I had no idea why he needed to go to the store. I thought he was going to get a few necessities or maybe just a sandwich from the Deli. But that would be a normal thing to do, not a Shawn thing to do.
“So what do you need?” I asked.
“I need,” Shawn said dramatically, “to slide.”
I barely had time to understand what he’d said before he took off running…and slid through the cereal aisle.
That is a Shawn thing to do.
“What do you think you are doing?” I hissed and I checked to see if we were getting any weird stares. We were getting plenty.
“I do it all the time.” Shawn said, “Watch this.”
He slid again, but as he came to the end of his slide he twirled like a figure skater. I put my hand over my face and tried to hide from the questioning glares people were giving me.
I wonder if they’d believe I was taking him for his last shopping trip before I have him committed.
“Come on, Michelangelo.” Shawn urged, “Try it.”
“Shawn,” I said as patiently as I could in a low voice, “This is a public place. Knock it off.”
“Ah, come on.” Shawn prodded, “You aren’t scared are you?”
“Of course not.” Came the automatic reply.
“I think you’re chicken.” Shawn grinned as he slid again.
That just made me angry. So I did exactly what he wanted me to do. I took a running start and slid across the bread aisle…right into him. Not expecting the sudden blow, Shawn slid and crashed into a stack of Special K boxes. My anger dissolved and I burst out laughing.
Shawn looked up at me and glared, but I could see that he was amused.
“You’re right.” I said still laughing, “That was fun.”
“When I said try it I didn’t mean use me as your target.” Shawn said trying to climb to his feet but stepping on a box and crashing back to the floor. I only laughed harder.
Until Shawn pulled me by the legs and sent me crashing into what was left of the stack of Special K boxes.
That happened a week after I’d moved in. Needless to say, there hasn’t been a dull moment in my life since then.
I looked down at my drawing and almost fell off the window seat. My rough sketch of Shawn stared up at me questioningly.
So much for clearing my mind.
This totally sucked. I should be out there searching for Shawn, not sitting here completely useless and drawing pictures of him. I slammed my sketch book shut and tossed it to the floor.
I hate feeling this way. Guilt always eats me up inside because I’m too prideful to admit when I’m wrong.
Pride and guilt. My two enemies.
Well, three, actually.
Stupid hockey puck.
Where is that stupid thing anyway? Oh, yeah. I threw it at the closet when I stormed into the house three days ago. I should toss it out for all of the grief it’s given me.
Shawn really should have known better. Henry even warned him that I wanted to be left alone that day. Heck, my mother, who I haven’t talked to since I left Florida two months ago, called to tell them both not to mess with me. He should have listened. How hard is it to heed one simple warning?
Knowing Shawn, he probably let his curiosity get the better of him. And the multiple warnings to stay away probably only fueled his fire. He always has to do the opposite of what he is told.
Still, you would think that the puck I sent careening towards his head when I saw him coming would have been a very big indicator that I did not want to deal with him.
He didn’t get the clue. If I had detonated a nuclear bomb under his feet he still wouldn’t have gotten the message.
And what did he do next?
He picked up the hockey puck and twirled it in his hands. Then he looked at me.
“Hockey isn’t a girl’s sport you know.” He said, “And your slap shot could use some work.”
Wrong thing to say.
On my best day I would have ignored him. On a normal day I would have argued with him or at least given some sarcastic remark as a rebuttal to that totally untrue statement. But this was my worst day. Of the 365 days I live each year, this was the one that I had no patience and no remorse.
So what did I do?
I pushed him. And then I screamed at him until I didn’t have a voice.
Shawn may be irresponsible and immature, but it’s in an unimportant sense. He always comes through for the big things. Me on the other hand, I have a lot of growing up to do. Taking me anger out on my unsuspecting brother is far from mature no matter how many times he was warned.
Do you know what I said to him?
I pushed him hard enough to send him to the grass. The puck bounced from his hand and landed beside him. I stood over him, shaking because I was so angry. All day I had been waiting for something to vent all of my pent up rage on. Shawn just happened to be the unlucky target.
“Whoa. Mychal, chill out.” He said, “What’s your problem?”
And I let him have it.
“You are my problem!” I screamed.
God, I wish I could forget that day. But it just keeps playing in my head like a bad movie.
“Hey, if it’s that hockey comment, I’m just reciting stats.” Shawn said, still confused, “The women’s hockey league isn’t-”
“I’m not talking about what you said.” I yelled at him, “I’m talking about you.”
“Me?” Shawn repeated, “What did I do?”
Shut up, shut up!
“Huh! Where do I begin? You’re nothing but a screw up! I bet you’ve never done anything right in you entire life!”
“Hey!” Shawn cried getting to his feet, “You don’t even know me-”
“I know you’re inconsiderate and completely selfish. I know that you can’t hold down a steady job and you quit everything you ever start. You have to pretend you’re psychic to even get paid. And how long will it be before you quit that and pack up and leave? Huh, Shawn?”
Someone, please. Staple my mouth shut!
“I’m not going to quit this.” Shawn said defensively, “Where do you get off criticizing me? You certainly aren’t perfect.”
“At least I made my parents proud.”
I remember how his face looked when I said that. what anger he had at me sort of faded away. He seemed to recoil into himself as if willing me away. But I was on a roll, and even though I could see it in his face that I was hitting an over sensitive nerve I didn’t stop.
Someone shoot me.
“What have you done to make Henry proud, Shawn? What great accomplishment have you made that made him burst with joy? This psychic act? No, he hates that can’t even stand to tell his friends what you do because it humiliates him. So what have you done? Oh, that’s right nothing! Because you’re a screw up, a disappointment, an embarrassment! You are nothing more than a colossal failure!”
I want to die now.
I left him standing there, dumbfounded. I snatched up my hockey puck and ran into the house. Shawn had no idea why I had ripped into him like that all he knew was what I had said to him. It didn’t even register in my mind what I had said to him or how I knew it would affect him. Henry didn’t ask questions as I stormed into my room and slammed the door. I was alone with my stupid hockey puck which I promptly threw at the wall.
And then Shawn disappeared.
Gee, can’t imagine why.