Two hours ago, a man drowned in a shallow body of water known as dithery lake. This man, my brother, though in good health and of sound mind, will be found dead and abandoned soon in a lake no more than 5 feet deep. So maybe he didn’t drown. Maybe he commited suicide. Maybe sirens lured him from land with their enticing voices.
Maybe he was murdered.
Well, it doesn’t matter, it's not for me to say.
This man went by Frederick Morrison, a 6’5 giant with the biggest heart you could possibly imagine. At 46 Frederick was a college professor of math and science. More on the lean side, he towered over his students, ranting about topology and differential equations, always sporting his winning friendly disposition. We’re twins in fact - well, were twins - fraternal, seeing as he was the more attractive brother. He got all the attention, all the love, all the girls. After all, the most attractive one in high school agreed to marry him. Mrs. Camilla Morrison: the most beautiful woman both my brother and I have ever laid our eyes upon. 26 years later, her eyes still shine. She aged well.
During their 26 years of marriage - almost 27 before his demise - Camilla gave birth to 5 Freddy lookalikes, height, brown freckles and all. With all but one being boys, they grew to be just like him, respectable, responsible, kind, honorable.
Perfect. That word has lingered on my tongue like a bitter aftertaste for all my existence. Probably because being perfect was something so close to me that I could never reach or ever aspire to be. I was never like Freddy, never perfect. He was the one loved and favored by everyone, while I was stuck in the back of the crowd, bestowed the title of “Frederick’s brother”. I didn’t have the reputable title of a college professor, I work at my local grocery store as the assistant manager, making less than i’d want. Because of that, among many things, I was thought less of, and I don’t blame them. Even our own parents had favorites. Our mother, the stronger parent, loved my brother. Who knows if she even acknowledged me as her son. But maybe it was supposed to be this way. Maybe somehow the universe knew I’d be the old deadbeat and that all the good things would go to Frederick. Maybe it was meant to be like this. Perhaps that's a good thing.
But how should I know? It's not for me to say.
I never got the girl, or the kids, but I’m not jealous. I can’t be. Everything Freddy got he deserved. As aggravating as it was to have a brother as perfect as him, I still loved him. I guess that’s a good thing. But during these last two hours I get conflicted and visualize large amounts of blood spilling out into dithery lake from Frederick's head. With every passing second things get blurrier and I think about my brother’s cold 6’5 body in that 5 foot deep lake. Maybe he didn’t drown. Maybe he was murdered.
Maybe I killed him. Maybe I didn’t. Maybe I had to.
But I don’t kill and tell, it’s not for me to say…
My only brother’s floating body will be found alone, no one with him when he died, no one to give him the recognition he deserved. maybe the police won’t find the murder weapon, if there even was one at all. I wouldn't know. But somehow, finding a large kitchen knife at the bottom of a 5 foot deep lake doesn’t seem at all hard. Maybe clumps of flesh and blood still cling to the serrated edge, yanked out of my poor brother’s side. Or was it his chest?
No, his head, but it’s not for me to say.
I wish it didn’t end like this. I wish he could’ve lived a longer life that surpassed 46 so he could see all his children grow up, walk his daughter down the aisle, bounce his grandkids on the knee.
but no, now his youngest son will reach manhood without his father there to witness it. his daughter will have to walk down the aisle with me, her uncle, or perhaps an uncle she favors more. and those poor children, for they’ll never know how perfect their grandfather really was, but I guess that’s a good thing. no feeling less-than and whatnot. God, I'm so glad he’s gone.
Maybe it is a good thing.
And on this matter, that is all I can say.
Its been two weeks since Frederick Morrison drowned down in dithery lake. Four hours later, his body was found by some boys going to skip rocks. I’m sure the lake resembled the Red Sea by the time they got there. It wasn’t a big lake, which made it easy to spot the body and just as easy to find the murder weapon.
I guess he didn’t drown after all.
An 8-inch serrated edge knife was found at the bottom of the murky blue soon after the body was. Shockingly enough, the police didn’t think a tall man like brother could drown in such a lake. They reported it as a murder, which made everyone panic.
Brought Camilla to tears.
The policemen told her, not me. I was there, though, sipping my morning coffee in my dead brother’s living room like I was completely innocent.
Because I was innocent, or I am. I will be.
I remember Camilla’s knees buckling and her falling to the ground, her wails heard throughout the entire suburban neighborhood. All 5 of Freddy’s children came stumbling down the stairs to see their mother in a heap on the floor with me bending down beside her, looking pathetic trying to comfort her.
The eldest, Mark, a discerning 24 - year old of stocky build, goes straight for the door to continue the conversation with the policemen. Beck and Brian, identical 18-year old twins and the next in line, stood behind their older brother, eyes widening with the terrifying news that had been relayed to them. Then there was Everleigh, the one, and only girl. She had the same name as Mother, though it suited Freddy’s girl better. Everleigh wrapped her arms around her mother, who stopped shaking but kept sobbing. She glanced at me and I pulled away so she could fully embrace Camilla.
Everleigh didn’t like me very much.
I got up from the floor and watched everyone’s fight or flight response. Mark was still at the door, his pale face not once twitching with emotion. The twins were still behind him, as if to give support to their brother. Everleigh stayed glued to her mother as a comfort, both crying together in harmony. And Jasper…
I felt a tiny something grab onto my left pointer finger. Looking down was Jasper, the baby of the group. With a pacifier in mouth and his blankie in hand he looked up at me. I stared back. Those short moments felt like hours of a silent conversation between us, and it all boiled down to the same thought.
Five years old and without a father.
We broke the staring contest and he let go of my finger. He held out his hands to me. I picked him up and we watched. We watched as his brothers tried to stay unfazed and emotionally detached. Watched as the two women quietly wiped away their tears. We watched.
Holding Jasper I realized that I had always wanted a kid. It never worked out, though. After all, no wife, no kid. But I guess that’s a good thing.
I hate kids.
Even so, I didn’t put Jasper down.
We had silent conversations.
And we watched.
And all the while I thought, "What a terrible thing to have your father die, and by drowning no less."
Despite all the amazing talents my dear brother had, I guess swimming wasn't one of them.