BILLY by Shannon Peil

It was hot. Too fucking hot. A beer laid spilled out on the grass, and his eyes rolled lazily, half-open but more importantly half-shut. The summer wind blew over his shirtless chest as he lay in the hammock, the cool breeze occasionally waking the midday drunk with stronger gusts. He was awoken by a shrill, pointed yell.

“Billy! Wake up and help my husband with something, he just got off work.” She made sure he was half sitting before walking back into the house. Billy picked up his spilled beer and drained the bottom drops into his mouth, tossing the bottle unceremoniously back next to the hammock as he sleepily headed up the steps. His brother stepped through the doorway to the porch, intercepting him with a shirt.

“Put this on, Billy. We’re going to the store. And Jesus Christ, how much did you drink today?” Billy snorted and didn’t answer. It was hot. Too fucking hot. Pulling the shirt on, he felt the sweat stains stick back to his pits. Stepping around his brother in the kitchen, Billy went for another beer but Danny stopped his hand and shook his head.

“What are you scared about, Danny? The store is like three blocks away and you’re driving, anyways. Why can’t I bring it along?” Danny nodded towards the couch, the three and five year old sitting there, now staring up at the brothers curiously.

“Because drinking and driving is something only idiots do. Let’s go, before Sheila rips your head off. She isn’t happy with you, y’know? Neither am I.” The kids laughed, the little one stuck her tongue out at Billy on their way out the door. They returned their attention to the TV as the two men walked out. Danny was dreading doing what Sheila ordered him to do today.

“Why are you mad at me, bro? I’ve been looking for jobs, it’s just really rough right now… And you know I’m not crashing with you guys because I want to…” Billy trailed off as they climbed into the car, searching through the glove box for a pack of smokes.

“I quit, Billy. And you should too. Six bucks a pack and you don’t have a goddamn job. That and my groceries are twice as expensive with you around, you asshole. Sheila stopped fucking me since you moved in, and I told her you’d be here two weeks, tops. You know how long it’s been, Billy?” Danny’s forehead dribbled a few drops of sweat as he started the car and headed down the street towards the gas station. “Billy?”

“I know, it’s been three weeks, but I think I have a lead on a job. And you can’t just kick me out – listen, listen. I’ll be better around the house, I’ll help Sheila clean up and stop drinking so much. Danny, I’m sorry.”

“It’s been five weeks, Billy.” He didn’t look up from the road as he continued, “I need you to move out. I… We can’t deal with you anymore. I love you, you know that… But you’re really fucking up, Billy. And I won’t let my family watch it anymore. Crash with someone else for a while, because you can’t stay with us another night.” Danny parked the car and stared forward at the gas station doors, unable to look at his brother, who was making sniffling noises.

The brothers left it at that, and walked into the gas station in silence. Billy hadn’t said a word, just walked up to the counter and started fumbling in his pockets. Danny grabbed a carton of milk and asked the attendant for a pack of Marlboro’s for his brother. He signed his receipt and looked up to see Billy hassling another clerk for the day’s lotto numbers. Danny shook his head, rolling his eyes at the fact that he had bought Billy’s lotto tickets, cigarettes, and beer for the last five weeks. He was mostly disappointed that he was so easy to take advantage of, that Billy could piss the generosity away without a second thought.

He sighed and grabbed a pack of matches on his way out, tearing open the pack of smokes and lighting one as Billy read off his ticket inside. Danny took a few deep inhalations and leaned against the bricks, sliding downwards in the summer heat slightly. It was hot. Too fucking hot. He was crouched down to the cool cement by the time Billy burst through the doors, clutching the lotto ticket and screaming some slightly inebriated nonsense.

“DANNY!” He yelled. Catching his brother’s eye, he gave a grin that was all teeth. “Guess who won the fucking lottery? Me, that’s who! Don’t worry about giving me a ride, I’ll take a bus. You can keep all the shit I left at your place. Don’t need it.” Danny tried to stand, but was floored. His wide eyes only made Billy’s grin expand further. Before he could speak, Billy was halfway down the block, middle finger pointed back at him.

SHANNON PEIL lives and writes in Boulder, Colorado.  He gets rejected some times, published others, and thinks that is fine. His work has appeared in a dozen online publications and a few in print, but more notably he edits for people who actually know what they are doing at http://amphibi.us. He gets referred to as Ms. more often than not in e-mails.

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