A Memory: The Tape
I wrote this back in either 1993 or 1995. I think 1995. I'm not sure if it's from high school or college, but I'm leaning toward college. It was a character sketch assignment for a creative writing class, but it's one of my favorite memories of my brother, one I'd forgotten. I'm glad I wrote it down.
My brother entered my room in his usual fashion: The door flung open and he leaped in. Landing in a crouch, his eyes darted around the room, mapping it's every crevice, like a soldier determining if an area was clear of the enemy. He turned and threw himself against the door, slamming it shut. He stuck himself against it, stiff-backed, and regarded me with a very significant stare.
"Hello, Justin," I said, sitting on the bed with my favorite book. I hadn't even looked away from it, but I did have to reread the page I was on.
"Shhh!!" A finger shot up to his lips, as if the puppeteer of this marionette were drunk. He stalked forward, then jerked still again. "I have made it," he said. By the tone, I could tell I was expected to be awed already. His hand catapulted upward, displaying a shiny gold cassette tape. He let out a high-pitched note of reverence, and hid the tape behind his back. "You are not worthy to gaze upon The Tape." His gaze swiveled about the room again, then back to me. "This is the tape to end all tapes. The only tape worthy enough to exist on this God-forsaken Earth. All other tapes are pretenders, false icons. You have just witnessed a miracle." He spoke with a low tone, as if deigning to let me in on the secret would strike us both dead then and there of a heart attack and brain aneurysm at the same time.
"So what's on the tape," I asked, intrigued in spite of myself. I put the book down and stared at him with the amused expression I had perfected during the fourteen years we shared a house and family. To be fair, I had only started working on it once he turned old enough to warrant such an expression, but he had earned it with a zeal that was to be admired.
"You cannot know, for you are an unworthy blaspheming heathen," he said in a tone that left no doubt as to my spiritual state.
"Sure," I said. "Please forgive me, O Enlightened One."
"If you prove worthy, you shall in time be forgiven." His laser gaze sliced the room into pieces again, and he left, almost exactly reversing his entrance. The backward somersault impressed me.
I shrugged and went back to Watership Down, which I made a point to read every summer. The heroes were just starting their trek for a new home, and I fell right into it. My brother let me read peacefully for a full two minutes.
The door swung open slowly this time, revealing his frame in the doorway: walkman in hand, earphones on. "I must listen to the preaching of The Tape," he announced, and hit play. His head flew back, and he grimaced in such ecstacy that I thought maybe God was talking to him through that thing. He looked at me and stalked off. Mere seconds later he returned, dressed in a clean-cut button-down shirt and tie, his hair neatly combed. "I am already a better man," he stated, and sat on my bed.
"You are so weird," I sighed, and took my book and left. I read for ten minutes in the study, but I wasn't as engrossed in the book this time. I needed my room back - the couch was nice, but I had my own little comfy reading nook. Back I went.
I opened the door to Justin sitting on the bed in the lotus position, meditating. I let out an exasperated yet amused sigh. "Justin, what are you doing?"
He opened his eyes slowly and just stared at me for a few minutes, as if judging if my soul was worthy enough to even be acknowledged. "How dare you disturb my meditation?" He spoke like a Dhali Lama, in a passive, serene voice. "I would smite thee if I were not a better man."
I decided at that point that the park would be the best place to read.