Tom Murphy and his brother Declan never really did get along.
There was a three year age difference—too much to be close friends, but not enough for Tommy to feel overly protective, always having this little kid in his hair. That was the theory, at least. Really, it was just a personality clash.
Secretly, though, each of them really wanted to be like his brother.
Tommy was cool. When he was younger, that meant he impressed all the other boys, which meant he always had a lot of friends. Having friends meant he got to practice all the social games that make men good at all the things folks like to tell us men should be good at. It made him confident, it made him witty—not in a nineteenth-Century way, but quick, good with a comeback. Good at belittling opponents and friends and even prospective girlfriends.
Declan wasn’t cool—at least, he didn’t think of himself that way. Instead, he was smart—that was his main identifier. He was a thinker. And on top of being a thinker, he had a kindness to him that made him hold back even when he knew exactly which words to use to bring his brother to heel. He wouldn’t say them.
But Tommy noticed. He always noticed when his brother said something to him that he didn’t think was true but then later it turned out it was. He’d mock him for being wrong and because he was the older brother, a lot of the time, Declan would believe him, and doubt himself.
When he was younger, at least. Back when he still wanted to believe his brother, to impress him. Back when he thought they could still be friends. But much as Declan distrusted his brother, much as he looked down on him for not being critical enough, he couldn’t help but admire him still—secretly, of course. Tacitly. To admire the way he still managed to bend men and women alike to his will.
(To Be Continued…)