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The Rabbit's Foot Business (standard:other, 3398 words)
Author: KirdasAdded: Sep 13 2000Views/Reads: 4080/2396Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
A twelve year old Ohio farm boy discovers a unique, though nearly fatal, way to win the respect of his eighteen year old brother, and in the process, he discovers something important about his own "manhood."

"The Rabbit's Foot Business" by Tom Kirdas. 

George Byfield pulled faded jeans onto his smooth, skinny legs. He
dressed carefully and quietly, remembering times his older brother, 
wakened suddenly by a fallen boot or a jangling belt buckle, had barked 
viciously at him from the bunk across the dark bedroom. Bill, eighteen 
- six years superior to George in authority and strength - was still 
sleeping. The dull cold of fall mornings in Ohio caused George to dress 
quickly. The cotton of his clean tee shirt gave George goose bumps. 
From the battered dresser which the boys grudgingly shared, George drew 
a torn and balling sweater his brother refused to wear any more. 

"We don't waste good clothes in this family," their mother had
announced. "This thing'll do for at least one more winter." 

"Let George wear the ugly thing!" Bill retorted. "He don't know no
better anyhow." 

Their mother no longer resisted such assertions of her older son's
independence. It was one of several duties of motherhood she had 
resigned when Bill had turned eighteen. She no longer demanded his 
attendance at meals or even that he go to school, thus preventing 
futile arguments about the importance of an education which she did not 
have herself. 

As he dressed, George stared evenly at the contours formed in the
blanket that covered his brother's body. Powerful muscles, now relaxed 
in sleep, had been pumped into Bill's shoulders and arms through a 
summer of strenuous farm work. George saw the nape of his brother's 
neck rise to a profusion of pollen-colored hair that covered Bill's 
ears and half of his snoring face. 

Sitting on the softness of his own bunk, George pulled on socks worn
nearly through at the heels while staring enviously at the massive hand 
of his brother, now hanging over the bunk's edge. Those strong fingers, 
he thought, might reach half-way round a football and send it like a 
missile to a comrade waiting down the field, someone terribly far away 
who believed that since Bill had thrown it, the ball would reach him 
perfectly. George momentarily imagined that he was the pass receiver 
his brother would have searched the field for before attempting the 
incredible pass. Then George leapt into the air to pull the missile 
down, to charge forward with it toward the goal, and to make the goal. 
In a moment the football field was a basketball court. State 
tournament. Only a few seconds left to save the championship. Bill's 
team behind only a point. Bill would maneuver and pivot, forcing his 
way down the court, charging, refusing to surrender the ball to anyone 
except his own brother. Then a last-second pass to George and the 
jumpshot... We win! We win the state championship! 

George poked his own stubby fingers into the pockets of his jeans where
he sought and caressed the plastic casing of his new pen knife, still 
cold. Then, pulling the knife from his pocket and opening it, George 
scraped the largest blade carefully over the pad of one thumb, feeling 
the slight resistance of its well-honed steel. The sensation drew 
George's attention away from his brother and to his own thumb which he 
now began to slice with the sharp blade. He shaved delicately through 
the thickness of a callus. Then, just before the blade could penetrate 
to a blood-producing depth, George moved the blade to a slightly 
different angle and began cutting again. 

"What the hell are you trying to do now?" His brother's sleep-laden
voice came as a shout that sent a jolt of fear through George's 
shoulders and arms. For a second he thought he had jerked because he 
had cut too deeply into in his thumb. Embarrassed when he discovered 
that his thumb was not bleeding, George quickly closed the knife and 
returned it to his pocket. 

"None of your business anyway," George muttered, feeling as if he had
been caught doing something reprehensible. Stepping down the stairway, 
he bent his carved thumb backward to punish himself for having been 

From the bedroom, Bill yelled after his brother derisively, "Crazy kid!
Trying to cut your own damn thumb off?" By the time George had reached 
the kitchen, the football pass had been fumbled, the jumpshot fouled, 

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