I always thought I’d go before you, Stephens spoke to the flat unassuming grave marker, bits of freshly cut grass sprinkled across its plaque.
His eyes blinked slowly under the jetlag. He could smell twenty-four hours of unwashed skin waft from under his collar as memories of his brother in Mexico—where they’d spent the most time together—stitched his thoughts like flashes from a blackout drunk. The time they met a registered nurse from Florida in a seaside saloon. She was drunk enough for Karl to convince her to remove twelve stitches from a recent knife wound in his chest, both of them taking a shot of tequila for every rigid thread plucked from his hairy pec. The time he fell from a hotel balcony and cratered the windshield on a diplomatic limousine. The time he took a bullet in the rain in an alley in an alcoholic stupor. The sponge they left in his gut struggled for twenty years to finally get him. Stephens laughed and shook his head. I thought for sure I’d be hit by a bus or a taxi, he spoke to the grave, I thought I’d get cancer again but nope; here we are, you down there, me up here. Children were playing somewhere down the hill outside the cemetery gate. Stephens closed his eyes and listened to their laughter echo among the stones until it was gone and he walked for an hour before he checked-in his hotel.
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Unless noted, all pics credited to Skitz O'Fuel.