They’re calling time when Tommy elbows me Hey, there’s Jack. You know him?
I know him: Big M’s kid brother. He’s singing along to Dino with a beer in one hand, a cigarette in the other. I’m surprised to see him: I heard he was a gigolo in Palm Beach, or got married to an old heiress, something like that.
It must be a year since Big M hooked up with Shagalita.
I needed the room back and to be fair, his sister finally took his things away, except the old Chinese meals under the bed. When he recited William Blake, my grandmother always answered lonely, I’m very lonely.
These days he phones late at night and and talks about watercolours but we all forgive him this, as we’ve forgiven worse, because he’s our friend and we still care.
Jack’s in company. He eyes me up and down as if he can’t quite place me.
He says Whose brother am I?
We’re all brothers, I tell him, and he relaxes.
You’re making the right sounds, he says. Sit down and join us.
That’s when the cute Spanish girl passes, sees me, hugs me hello.
I turn to introduce her to Jack but, quick as a matador, he’s already in, pushing between us, pressing me away.
He encircles her, his teeth bared in a smile, seducing quietly in slow Spanish. I stand there for a few minutes, looking at his back, waiting, but all his attention is on the girl now.
As I walk away, I slap a hand on his shoulder and say to him
Suddenly, I remember whose brother you are.