Part One

Maceration

 

1

 

His head was malformed, almost like a pinhead from an old time sideshow with a tuft of downy hair on top that had the most peculiar curl to it. It was extremely fine hair for a man of forty, but not because it had been thinning. Lyle Morris never had all that much hair on his oblong head to begin with, and it had always been soft like a baby’s hair. Everything about Lyle had remained toddler-like since his body stopped progressing mentally when he was three years old. Many of his features had been stunted, which caused him to receive stares and questionable looks from time to time, but he wasn’t subject to ridicule very often, spending most of his life indoors with his twin brother, Kyle.

Kyle fared better, coming from the same womb four minutes early, which earned him the grand title of Big Brother. In public it was clear that he was the big brother in that Lyle looked to be a decade his junior, considering his physical retardation and the lack of facial hair that left him with such baby-smooth skin. Kyle always seemed to have a five-o-clock shadow whether it was five in the morning or five in the afternoon. He often wore second-hand button-up shirts and kaki pants decorated with mysterious grease stains. He wasn’t disabled like his brother, however he had his share of mental issues that a cocktail of meds could only attempt to straighten out. Not that he ever took his meds. He was an intelligent man, did his best to deceive the system for the ability to take guardianship of his brother who would otherwise have been institutionalized. If he were to tell his therapist that he’d been neglecting to take his medication he would risk losing guardianship of Lyle, and that, frankly, would shatter everything he knew of as life itself.

On Earth as in the womb, eternally connected, they needed one another.

Lying beside an upturned wheelchair in blue sweatpants and a dirty gray sweatshirt, Lyle was crying. A woman rushed to his aid. “Dear God, are you all right?”

Lyle looked up, his chubby red cheeks wet with tears. “I . . . I’m okay.” His gentle child-like voice quivered, frightened. The woman ignored his baby-face and oddly shaped head as she straightened his wheelchair and attempted to lift his bulk. The Morris brothers were obese. There was no way this woman was going to be able to assist Lyle back into his chair and she knew it. She said, “I’ll get you help, don’t you worry, just let me . . .” She looked around for someone, but the street was empty at eight o’ clock in the evening. “Oh dear. Do you live around here?”

“Yes, he does,” said a voice from behind the woman. She turned to see an equally fat man walking toward her. He was disheveled and wore a pair of thick glasses that gave him a distinctly nerdy appearance. “I got it form here,” he said. “That’s my brother. He must have wheeled away from the house again.” He grabbed Lyle and began hefting him back into the wheelchair. “This is why I told you not to leave the house,” he scolded in a decidedly childish voice. “You always seem to capsize this thing. What if someone hit you with their car?”

“Here,” said the woman, “I’ll help you.”

“Don’t bother.” Kyle’s voice went bitter. He shot her a menacing glance, eyes like fat cauldron bubbles behind coke bottle glasses. “I got him.”

“Are you sure?”

Kyle huffed, dropped his brother, who almost smacked his head on the ground, and faced the woman with a furious rictus. “I said I got him. Go away!”

Against her better judgment, the woman backed up, Kyle’s incessant stare never breaking.

“I don’t need your help,” he whined, like a child in the midst of a tantrum. The woman walked away. The last thing she heard was Kyle saying, “She was a poopyface, wasn’t she?”

Lyle now stood. “I’m sorry,” he said, pouting his lower lip. When he said sorry it sounded like sawwy.

Kyle tipped the wheelchair again. “Don’t be sorry, Baby Brother. We’ll get one soon enough. That’s why I told you we should try a woman’s--“

“No! Need a man face, Big Brudder.”

Kyle cringed. “Shhhhh. Okay, okay. I know, I know. That’s why we let her go.”

Lyle lay down on the ground beside the wheelchair sucking his thumb and crying, curling his legs into as much of a fetal position as he could considering his bulbous stomach and thick ham hawks.

“When a man comes to help, I’ll nab him, okay?” said Kyle with a heavy dose of reassurance.

Lyle nodded. He looked up at his big brother, pulled the slimy thumb from his mouth and said, “I lub you, Big Brudder.”

“I love you too, Baby Brother.”