When I was younger, my step cousin and I were never close. We could see each other every year for the typical holidays and bicker with each other. My mom would keep me away from him because I was always getting beat up or made fun of. It was a constant struggle with out relationship because he may have not seen me as a cousin at the time. Maybe he saw me as another kid to bully. We were never close, but I love the guy. He may not have been my own flesh and blood, but he pushed me to the point of understanding how to protect and take care of myself.
The last time I saw him was in Tennessee, We were celebrating Independence Day at my Uncle’s farm. There were lots of laughs with family I hadn’t seen in the last six months. Even my cousin and I were getting along for the first time. The one memory that strikes me the most about that weekend was we connected as a family. We weren’t just two strangers with bitter feelings or anger boiling underneath our skin. We sat in his room playing “Zelda: Ocarina of Time”. I had never played it before. He was playing while my other cousin and his two friends watched. It amazes me how a video game can actually bring enemies together sometime, or maybe we just never found the right connection to click.
After he was done playing, we were horsing around in the bedroom. None of us thought much of it because we were boys that just liked to wrestle each other. It wasn’t until he accidentally jumped off the bed and elbowed me in the lip. Blood was everywhere and he was freaking the hell out.
Apparently my mom had told me if he puts one hand on me she would chop off his dick. Well, there’s a reason to be frightened I guess. Especially considering the amount of bruises, cuts, and twisted ankles he caused. No one thought much of it though in the past because they always just said “boys will be boys”.
I was extremely upset because he really was sincere about not trying to hurt me. We were just messing around and shit hit the fan. It wasn’t anything too serious, other than, the scarlet dripping on the white carpet. When my mom saw me in the kitchen, she lost her mind and literally stayed in the camper outside the rest of the weekend. She said she didn’t want her son around a criminal misfit trying to beat her son to a pulp. If I remember correctly, I think we almost left that day, but my dad talked her down. He brought her a bottle of Jack Daniels and let that ease her worries and anger.
Yeah, I was wrong about that.
We were all having dinner in the dining room that night. The chandelier lit the whole house from front door to back door. All of the kids were at their own little table, while the adults congregating at the bigger one. I saw my cousin dragging sleeping bags and backpacks with his friends outside to the old barn house down the road. I was interested in going because I felt like I needed to let him know that I didn’t have any hard feelings. I felt like I was being treated like a child and forced to stay away from him.
When I took the rear of the group, my mom quickly grabbed my wrist and told me I couldn’t go with them. She said they were going to smoke pot and get drunk like a bunch of fucking hooligans that night. I never realized how much my mom didn’t like him until that night. Hell, I didn’t even know what the fuck pot was.
Fast forwarding to the next day, we shot of fireworks from the barn fence. We even had a slight mishap where a block of explosions shot back at the house and knocked out a few windows. Some of my cousins got a little burnt from the fireworks, but nothing too major. We were all frightened, but it made for crazy memories.
I remember going down to the old barn with both of my cousins with a tent and some sleeping bags. My step cousin wanted to have a night alone with us to talk and just enjoy the night. He even brought some Penthouse magazines from his brother’s stash, and we admired all of the beautiful women on each page. It may have lasted a few minutes before we finally stopped and just started talking. We talked about life and what we were planning for the future. We even talked about his sister’s friends that were staying over in the big house that night. They were absolutely gorgeous and it killed me that I wasn’t three years older so I could have a chance with one of them. Much to my surprise, his brother was already fucking one of them in the living room every night, so it wasn’t like my hopes were really that high.
Honestly, I think camping out with him was the best time I had with him. It was like being with a big brother that would laugh and joke with you about the small things. Sometimes he’d even shoot a smart remark at me, but I never took offense because he was my family. He may have still had some bitter tension with his mom because he loved his dad so much, but I could tell he was changing… He was maturing. I never realized how quick a guy could grow up. He even let me borrow the Zelda game, so I could practice up on my skills like him… but he would never get that game back. He would never know whenever I put it into my Nintendo 64 his name is still one of the saved accounts. I still haven’t been able to clear it from the memory drive.
Two years later, I was coming out of the high school to meet up with my mom at the pick up lane. She was driving her cherry red Camaro which normally had Motley Crue blasting on the radio, but this time it was silent. When I opened the doors to get in, I didn’t notice the tears in my mom’s eyes until I looked up. She put her arm around me and held me tight. At first I thought our cat died because this was the exact thing that happened. My mom was a very emotional woman that had a heart of gold… Even if she wasn’t too fond of the person.
My chest was tight and my heart hammered like the double kick pedal of a bass drum. My skin was hot and I couldn’t understand why she was shaking so much. I was scared because we were still in the pick up lane and he nails were digging into my back like she didn’t want to let me go. The fright was building and I could taste the iron building up in my throat from bile. I didn’t know what had happened. Even the thoughts of my dad were striking me instantly because he was suffering from multiple heart attacks at the time. Then she said with a slight whisper and whimper.
“Blake died this morning…”
Everything after that was like a spiraling vortex. There was no words that could break me from the trance I had succumb to. Even my muscles loosened and I sunk into the passenger seat. The thoughts of never seeing him again, and always remembering that night would pang at me for the rest of my life. The pain rippling through my veins from a guy that tormented me on holidays, yet we had this one special moment that I could cherish forever. Why did it have to fucking happen like this?!
At the funeral home, I was scared shitless. I didn’t want to cry or show emotion because I figured my family thought it was a cry for attention. They knew what kind of relationship we had because my mom was always frustrated with him beating me up and fighting with me. I remember him from that night though. He was different. Not the same step cousin I saw before Independence Day. He was my family.
Being sixteen years old, I stepped up to his casket looking down on him. He was much different now. H played football and had a muscular build now. His eyes were closed and lips tight. I’ve never seen someone sleep so peacefully. It was never my intention to touch his hair one last time, but I did. When I felt the stone cold death of his skin, it finally hit me. There was nothing anyone could do. My cheeks were hot from the blinding tears that wouldn’t stop spilling from my eyes. Nausea thrummed my stomach and I couldn’t take it anymore. I ran outside and sucked in the cool air.
When it struck me that he was gone forever, I lost myself in a dark abyss. Shattered, regretful, and lost. Nothing could ever mend this pain.