Some Things Stick With You, Pt. 1

Come on, man. Again?” Louis folded his arms and looked down at Richard where he lay in his bed, trembling under the sheets. The acrid tang of urine hung in the air, and coupled with the raw animal panic on his younger brother’s face was shame. It was like the time Louis had walked in on Richard pounding it to a video of an older woman playing with a cucumber, but worse. That’d been embarrassing and awkward for the both of them, but at least he hadn’t been scared out of his goddamn mind. At least he hadn’t been screaming at the top of his lungs, fit to wake up Louis and every neighbor in every apartment around them. “Dude, you’re eighteen now. Pull yourself the fuck together.”

Richard’s shame intensified, twisting his face into something ugly. His jaw quivered, and Louis knew from experience the kid was just moments away from crying. He sighed and uncrossed his arms, hoping the expression forced onto his face looked friendlier than the one he’d been wearing a moment before. “Hey. Hey, you don’t have to do that. I’m just saying, man. The night terrors aren’t exactly endearing is all.”

Richard murmured. “I’m sorry.”

“I know. It’s just… work in the morning, class in the afternoon, studying at night. Busy day, you know? It never lets up, and I won’t really get to relax until Sunday.”

“I know. I’m sorry.”

Christ, you want to be a psychologist and this is how you treat somebody that needs psychological help? Louis frowned, angry at Richard, at the situation, at himself. His poor brother. There was something seriously wrong with him, and Louis had his suspicions, and he wanted to help, and yelling at him and guilt tripping wasn’t going to do anyone any good. They feel guilt. They self-blame. They have self-esteem issues. You’re not doing anyone any favors with this shit.

Louis sat down on Richard’s bed, taking care not to sit too close to him or too close to the puddle of piss. “You had the nightmare again?”

“Yeah. But different. It’s always different.”

“What was it like this time?”

Richard frowned. He didn’t want to think about his nightmare, but at least he didn’t look scared senseless when he did. “It’s hard to describe. Like a vision. I wasn’t there, but I could see the Thin Man.”

“What was he doing?”

Richard was silent. He ran his tongue across his lips, a nervous tic he’d had ever since he was a kid. “He was angry. He was trying to figure out where I’d gone, and he was angry.”

The two brothers sat in silence. Louis tried to think of something comforting and reassuring to say and came up with nothing. Finally he settled on some simple, easily followed instructions. “Come on. I’m going to walk out of the room. You strip the bed and let’s throw the sheets in the wash.”

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