I met my brother in a barfight in White Pine, Wyoming. I was just sixteen years old, but I’d beaten all the regulars in bareknuckle boxing. The bartender figured if I could fight like a man I might as well drink like one. Everybody in town knew not to cross me, but the stranger tapped me on the shoulder and planted his fist in my face.

Ten minutes later I was starting to get scared. I could knock out a guy in two swings, usually, but this one knew all my tricks. He favored the left hook, like me, but his was meaner. It was like getting beat up by myself. Pretty soon I was laying on the beery floor with him pouring a glass of water on me.

“Haven’t seen you since you were a baby,” he said.

I spat blood. “You don’t know me.” Right after I said it I knew he did.

We didn’t look a thing alike — for one thing, our noses had been broken in opposite directions. But when we got to our feet we stood the same, right shoulder lower than the left, neck stuck out like it was looking for trouble.

“I gotta go,” he said. “You never saw me.”

I noticed then that he had a jailhouse tat on his right arm, and his mouth had meth written all over it. Watching him walk out, I saw how things were going to go for me. And if you think I was the least bit sorry, you don’t know what it’s like to be all alone in the world.


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