When they got home, Miles hurriedly jumped out of the car and ran to the front steps of the little brick home in the suburbs of his small beach town in Florida. The door was locked so he ended up waiting frustrated on the stoop. He was holding back tears at the injustice of the situation. He was, after all, a little scared of, possibly concerned about, his brother.
But more than that, he knew this was another ploy to get under his skin and frustrate him – isolate him from his parents. They were either too stupid or too busy to be bothered by Gary’s antics. And Gary took full advantage of their apathy. Constantly lording it over Miles. He had a wild imagination, Miles could give him that, but he also had a cruel streak. One that Miles always suffered the most from. Though his parents unwittingly suffered too. Gary knew exactly what he was doing to everyone in the car with his antics.
His goal was always isolation. Probably for the simple reason of feeling that way himself and his misery needing company, Miles thought. In the car, Gary had intentionally exasperated his father, alienated his mother, and terrified Miles. Everyone was at the mercy of Gary in this family – whether they knew it or not.
Miles was like his brother in almost every way. The most significant difference was his capacity for cruelty. Sure, he felt alone in this family, but he had the self-awareness to refrain from taking it out on them. He was closest to his brother, but only because he understood him – not because they were actually close.
From the outside, the family looked normal. Gary wanted it that way. The kids went to a public school, where both Gary and Miles were middle of the road students – A’s, B’s, and C’s in equal measure, with the occasional D in classes that required regular journals or work that built on itself through the end of the school year. Those were the classes both boys could never stay consistent with. Once they missed an assignment, it was over and they resigned themselves to their D. It frustrated their mother to no end.
“Have you done your homework yet?” she would ask every night.
She had enough knowledge about their classes to satisfy her “good mother” complex that so many mothers suffer from in the states, but not enough to follow through and know exactly what needed to get done and by when.
Both boys had learned it was easier to lie outright about this. A simple “yes, I did it in class” usually sufficed. But they always made sure not to date their assignments, and do enough to show their mother a different past assignment every time she asked for proof – which wasn’t often.
Report cards were always a dramatic reckoning with their mother. She could no longer suspend her disbelief, she felt like a bad mother, her kids had lied to her, etc. Rage was generally the only response their “feeble-minded” (as Gary called her) mother could muster.
She was not really feeble minded of course. She simply didn’t know herself – not to the degree her sons had achieved in their short lives anyway. Perhaps it was a feeble-mindedness in a way, but Miles always saw the best in his mother. He saw in her the raw material that had awakened to something extraordinary in both Miles and Gary. Gary only saw it in himself. Miles saw it in all of them to varying degrees.
She would always clean when she went into a rage. Typically that meant throwing things that were out of place across the room.