Where have you been, he asked his younger brother. We’ve been worried about you, the younger boy looked at him. Wondering when you were going to show up. If you were going to show up, the older sibling sipped his coffee. And now, here you are. Here’s Johnny, the younger brother smiled. You got any money? Are you broke? the older brother thumbed through his wallet. He pulled out a hundred dollar bill. Placed it on the table. Don’t spend it all in one place, the older son said. I can get you more than that. I don’t expect you to start all over again on just a hundred, he said. The other man looked at the bill then out the window of the diner.
I’m having scrambled eggs and bacon, the older man said. Maybe some buttered toast. You want something? he continued looking out the window. I said, would you like something? Breakfast? You always liked pancakes when we were kids. Bunch of syrup all over the place, he laughed.
When were you going to tell me she died? the younger boy asked.
We had no way of getting a hold of you.
Paul got a hold of me.
Did you tell Paul to call me?
Why didn’t you ask him for the number?
At the shelter. In Joplin.
You could’ve called me a few times, the older boy said. Could’ve called your own brother. I told Paul to call you and tell you about mom. So, in a way. I did call you.
Paul would’ve called anyway, the waitress came over. Poured two more coffees. The older man gave her his order. Nothing for me,the younger one said.
You’re always starting trouble. Always taking off. Walking around America. Got nothing but the clothes on you. Don’t you want more? More out of life?
The younger brother looked at his older brother. Slid the bill back towards him and walked out of the diner. The older brother watched as he crossed the street.