Brothers Under The Skin

On the physical side we differed as well. Oh! Did we differ!


"Yo, Bro!"

"Yo, Bro, yourself. What got you out of bed this early, if one may ask?"

"You may ask, Indian Joe, but no answer until I've had my first libation of the day."

Suckoman and myself had palled around long enough that we could insult each other without generating rancor. Except for friendship, we had little in common. Sucko came from a long ago and faraway cityfull of his kind; I hailed from a Kansas village. Nevertheless, when we met in a Chicago bar we learned we enjoyed the same stout drinks and other things as well. We each bought rounds in turn as that first meeting advanced through the night.

On the physical side we differed as well. Oh! Did we differ! Sucko needed two stools to belly up to the counter, while my cheeks barely covered one. Sucko had this enormous head; some said mine resembled a butcher's cleaver.

Over time, we became brothers under the skin. (Another difference: Sucko's epidermis sported these wart-like growths, mine still smooth at my advanced age of 321 years.) We visited bars, museums, art galleries, bars, zoos, theaters, bars ... often arm in arm to wide-eyed stares of strangers.

Brothers. The idea festered. Though people called me Indian Joe, I had no truth of First Nation ancestry. But I knew how Indians from different tribes became blood brothers through an emotional ceremony. Could not Sucko and myself do the same?

I put it to him.


"Exchange blood!" he exclaimed. "Worse than gross, Indian Joe! No way can we do this. Actually, my friend, we would NOT be exchanging blood."

"What is that supposed to mean? Surely ... "

Sucko bared an arm. Sharp teeth broke through the skin of it. Indeed, blood did not flow forth. It didn't smell like blood, either, but like rotting seaweed. And the color! I paled at the sight.

My mind reeled. Not blood brothers but, surely, brothers in spirit. I needed to think it through. I had to go.

"What time is it, Sucko?"

He peeled back the sleeve of one arm and then another and then a third, finally locating his watch. "12-12-4099: 12:15 p.m.," he read. "Another century on the wane, Indian Joe. Meet you here tomorrow?"

I nodded. I waved goodbye. Sucko's fourth arm slithered into view and saluted my departure with its tentacled suckers.

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