Ismail

How to explain why my brother Harry and I stood in my best friend Abdul’s backyard at two in the morning carrying five large Mason jars filled with milk and turkey parts we’d bought at Fairway? My brother was supposed to be watching me closely, waiting for my cue. Instead he was staring at the neighbor’s house, terrified. “I think I saw a light,” he whispered.

I don’t know why he was so afraid. Abdul, his sister, Ameena, and their parents had returned to Guyana for all of August. No one was in the house or in the little cottage in the back where Abdul lived. Sure, the neighbors were Ukrainians with bad, bad tempers, and true, they owned guns. But it was three in the morning, and they had long ago gone to bed.

Harry was thin with dark skin, and I could barely see him in the night. I was trying to signal to him to stay calm, but he was so busy gaping at the Ukrainians’ house he didn’t see the headlights approaching. I pushed my brother behind some bushes as a patrol car crept by. Its headlights sparked the drizzle, creating two shimmering halos. After the cops had passed, I realized I’d stopped breathing. I gulped as if surfacing from a long dive.

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