Snapshots of My Brother

                              I think of the time we was both of us kids.
                              It was me who would stand up for you.
                              I’d beat anybody who’d pick on my brother.
                              I’d pummel ’em purple and blue.

                                                  —from A Man of No Importance


My best friend Pam and I are sitting side by side on one of the long orange built-in couches in my living room. My four-year-old brother, Ricky, dashes down the hall and hurls himself into our laps. “Girl lovers’ club!” he shouts gleefully, and we tussle and tickle. He is irresistible, even to teenage girls who have older boys on their minds.

“What do you think of this?” My mother is holding out a drawing that Ricky has done for an assignment in art class—a meticulous, detailed line drawing in black and white—of a pinball machine, seen from above, showing the flippers, the balls, and the paths they might take through intricate patterns and designs.

I stare at it for some minutes. “It’s really terrific!”

“The teacher gave him an F. The assignment was to draw a landscape.”

I look at the drawing again. “But . . . this is a landscape.”

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