Finding a Routine
The first year at uni saw us getting into a routine. Corey and Giles where always over at our house and every second weekend of the month Devlin would throw a wild party inviting not only his friends from uni, but even complete strangers on the bus or at the supermarket. At the winter break he insisted on going down to the snow fields for two weeks, while Corey and Giles took Batty home with them, and when we got back, our house had been robbed so we had to go through the long and draining procedure of having to claim our insurance as well as get permission to install security screens and system to the house courtesy of Devlin’s father, who had been appalled by the break in, believing it to be some sort of personal attack on him.
As October of that first year drew nearer I finally had the courage to suggest a Halloween party to Devlin, something I had always wanted to do. He was quite excited by this idea and soon we had the help of Giles and Corey to set up house for the coming event. Black crepe paper was blue tacked to the walls in the hallway and living room, and bags of fake cobwebs were strung up to help create the mood. Corey lent us her shrieking ghosts, witches and flying bats on a string and Giles picked up an old fog machine from a garage sale to add atmosphere. Devlin took the theme outside with a fake tombstone in the front yard and little black cauldron-like pots filled with sweets on the tables set up in the back yard. The new sound system played an eerie soundtrack of loud footsteps, bloodcurdling screams and screechy violin music and Corey dressed herself as a witch with a crooked nose, Giles came as a pirate with the eye patch, Devlin dressed himself as death with a black cape and powdered white face, and I went as my favourite scary killer with the hockey mask. We had over one hundred people at the party, and after its amazing success it was decided that Halloween would be the setting to the major party we’d throw every year.
Christmas arrived and Devlin managed to out do himself, buying more and more decorations until Corey asked where he was possibly going to store everything for next year. I came home from work one night to hear Devlin and Kaeli in the middle of an argument about where Devlin was spending Christmas day.
“My parents are expecting you.”
“I can’t Kaeli. I’ve told you that twice now. I told you I’d go over there Boxing Day. I can’t leave Sean here by himself. Nobody should spend Christmas alone!”
“He’s got family, let him go over there!”
“No I’m his family, and he is bloody well mine! And I am spending Christmas day here, whether you like it or not!”
Christmas that year wasn’t as carefree as it had been the year before, especially when Kaeli had turned up and discovered that Giles and Corey had stayed for most of the day. The argument that followed was one so intense that Giles, Corey and I managed to sneak out and go for a walk, and when we had finally had the nerve to go back, we found a note saying that they’d gone to Kaeli’s parents place for the night.
We tried not to let the next year at uni strain our friendship, but it was hard, especially with Devlin spending most of his free time with Kaeli. It got to the stage that we barely saw each other anymore, and being left to my own devices, I began to dig deeper into my brother’s situation than I ever had the chance to before, even getting my hands on the police reports and court manuscripts, and trying desperately to get in contact with the one woman that T.R had been most insistent I should question.
Giles, Corey and I slowly became friends, united I suppose by a common enemy. Kaeli. We, but especially myself, were resentful about the amount of time Devlin spent with Kaeli, and for most of the next year, she managed to worm her way into trying to control nearly every aspect of life in the house. And we had a valid reason to dislike Kaeli, you see, when Kaeli was around you couldn’t have fun; she would frown and turn up her nose at our activities and even forbid Devlin to join in such childish antics.
* * *
“Who’s mummy’s bootiful boy? Who is mummy’s little snookims? You are! That’s right, you are! You’re so smart and intelligent. Mummy’s going to make you something extra special for din din’s tonight baby,” cooed Devlin as he squatted on the floor praising our dog over his latest accomplishment, and rewarding Batty by scratching behind his ears.
A wicked grin sprang to my lips, as I realised that it was the fifth time this week I’d caught Devlin speaking to Batty like some deranged idiot, without a lick of sense, would talk to an infant.
“Honey, I’m home,” I began and watched Devlin spring up and turn to look at me with a guilty expression on his face. “I see you’re giving our dog a complex again,” I stated as I reached down to calm the child in question who was literally leaping with joy at hearing my voice.
“He doesn’t welcome me like that,” Devlin muttered casting an eye of displeasure in our direction, before stalking over to the fridge in disgust.
“That’s because I don’t talk to him in that annoyingly gooey baby voice you do,” I reasoned good naturally as we watched him open the door and begin to poke about in the fridge. “So what did our son master today?”
“The handshake,” came the reply from the behind the open fridge door.
Impressed I turned and bent down to Batty’s level and extend him my hand.
“Shake.” I said invitingly.
Batty walked over to me, plunked his arse on my foot, before turning his head to gaze adoringly at me, and hit my hand with his head to welcome and encourage a good scratch. I turned and looked at Devlin, disbelief shining out of my eyes over the idea that Devlin had taught him the handshake.
Grinning at me Devlin clapped his hands once to gain Batty’s attention and held out his right hand towards him.
Batty gave a delighted bark, bounded over to his mother’s side and raised his paw into Devlin’s hand, before turning back to look at me with a canine delight. My eyes popped in disbelief and laughter shook my sides as I clutched the bench top for support. Devlin reached into his pocket for a doggy treat and threw it into the air for Batty to catch. Batty careless of his surroundings surged forward to claim his prize and ran headlong into the still open fridge door and succeeded in knocking himself unconscious.
“Oh god I killed him,” Devlin whispered as he turned deathly pale and fell to the floor in a dead faint.