Joshua Hale Fialkov

Purveyor of sheer awesomeness.

Joshua Hale Fialkov is the Harvey, Eisner, and Emmy Award nominated writer of graphic novels, animation, video games, film, and television, including:

THE LIFE AFTER, THE BUNKER, PUNKS, ELK'S RUN, TUMOR, ECHOES, KING, PACIFIC RIM, THE ULTIMATES, I, VAMPIRE, and JEFF STEINBERG CHAMPION OF EARTH. He's also written for NBC's CHICAGO MED and SYFY's upcoming INCORPORATED.

Photograph by Heidi Ryder

On What Happened to My Brother Buckeye Ty.

by Joshua Hale FialkovCopyright 2006

The darkness crept over the house slower than it ever had before. We knew that something was changed, Frank and me. Ty left the house for days a time before. Hell, regular like. But this time... day five he'd been gone, I reckon, although it was always hard to tell just when he left, what with him often times staying over at whatever lady he deemed worthy of stickin' his pecker in. He'd been seeing Christy someone or another. The one with the big tits and bigger ass. Not that I'd kick her off my cock.

Frank'd talked to her at school that day, and she'd been less than concerned 'bout the whereabouts of my big brother and that throbbin' guy he'd done stuck in 'er.

"You tell Ty this his dick is so small I didn't even know when he stuck it in! And that he can fuck Michelle in the ass all he wants, but I ain't ever gonna let him do it again."

Not much to go on, other than one of the two dozen freshmen named Michelle let Ty stick it right up her pooper. I'd made a mental note to myself to follow up on that one with him in person.

I tried to find which one it was, but, even the trashiest 14 year old who takes it in the ass knows better 'n to admit it to Buckeye Ty's brother. They call him Buckeye on account of us originally bein' from Ohio, and that's the state motto, and well, I suppose you'd understand the double-meaning if'n you ever seen one.

All that's beside the by, though. Back home, like I was sayin' when the sun went down, and Ty's bed stayed empty we knew somethin' was up. So, me an Frank we took it upon ourselves to form a little search party, just like they did in some movie we saw on TV 'bout that little girl that got stuck in the well.

Let me just say a second here on that. Wells are mighty fuckin' hard to fall down. I mean, even just a open well, not more than a gully in the ground... it's still a fuckin' 3 foot hole. What sort of fuckin' imbecile falls into a 3 foot hole like it ain't even there? The kinda fuckin' idiot that deserves to stay down there and fucking die, that's who. Bunch a dumb cunts fall down a well, pollutin' a fellas drinking supply. Shit, it's bad enough the number of people that piss in it from up above, yet alone some dumb 8 year old bitch treadin' water for three days while the police and firemen try and figure out if it's worth tearing up the hole or just let the kid drown and fish 'er corpse out with one of 'em industrial lift things.

Anyways, like i said, night, it was a fallin', and Ty wasn't comin' home on his own, so we decided to find him. Now, we ain't had no clues, but I knew that he liked to hang out down by the train tracks in the woods. He'd take us and we found all kinds of cool shit like beer bottles and this one time we found a joint and we all got fucked up and fuckin' Frank tried to show us how good he was at jerkin' off, if you can even start to fuckin' believe the sort of homo-retard shit that guy fucking pulls. Pulls like his goddamn peenie.

So, I grabbed one of them Craftsman flashlights my moms keeps in the cupboard right above the instant breakfast crap my pop had to eat cause of his bad heart, which might i add killed him anyways, and he died not having the sweet taste of maple syrup and bisquick touch his lips for near two years. If that ain't punishment from God, I reckon I don't know what is.

Out in the woods, at night, round here... S'not... pleasent. If you catch my meaning. These gulleys and shit, lots of bikers and drug addicts and shit hang out, and all that's fine and dandy, less'n you ain't in with those guys. So, y'know, me and Frank, we weren't what you'd call comfortable to begin with.

So, we walked, and kept our eyes out, and it bein' a school night, it was pretty damn quiet. We spooked a couple a deer at one point, they ran like hell, and poor Frank near pissed himself. But that aside there weren't nothing there. Not but trees and the creeks and so forth.

And then it got real dark. I mean like... maybe a cloud went overhead or the trees got thicker, but, it was damn pitch black. My flashlight was losin' power pretty fast, and we didn't have one of them big giant flashlight batteries laying around. Frank had a penlight, but those things ain't worth a shit unless you're in a room two inches by two inches. In which case, you'd have to question how exactly you got in there.

So, it's real dark, and my flashlight's going out, and Frank's pen light's not doin' a donkey's dick worth of good. And we both just sort of stare at the nothingness, listening for something. But there ain't nothing to hear.

Silence.

Nada.

Fuck all.

Rustling.

Just a little bit. The leaves up above moved on their own, like something was moving from limb to limb. We tried to see, but it was too damn dark. Cept, through the rustling up above, we could see somethin' that looked like a spotlight in reverse. Beamin' from the sky down to a small clearing. So, we figured like, "Holy Shit, God's given us a sign, and he ain't fucking around," right? So, we start heading towards where that light was coming from, and sure enough, we could see it, once we'd gotten through the thicket.

That light was shining on a spot on the ground, bare and dead, like nothing'd ever grown there, and nothing ever would. The trees even seem scared to grow there, save for one big one that loomed impossibly high over the small clearing.

We stood there in that moonlight for a second, thinking about the wonder and the magic that is the moon, and all other sorts of gay shit like that. Fuck, I'm lucky that Frank didn't whip it out right there in honor of the big silver bastard up in the sky (which he reckoned looked like one half of a fucking great set of titties.)

As we stood there, watching the moon, gigantic and beaming on us, the world seemed to slow down, save for the sound of the branches up ahead swaying in the light breeze that found it's was through the trees and valleys to this one spot.

For a second there, I forgot all about Ty, and Michelle with what must be her giant fucking vagina. Like tossing a hot dog down a hallway, Ty'd say. "Had to strap a board to my ass to keep from gettin' sucked in!"

A splatter of rain fell on my cheek. Fall rains a lot, so it ain't that weird. I wiped that drop off my face, and felt it spread out, like water often does, but, it didn't seem quite so watery. I looked over at Frank, and he too had had something fall on him, but it didn't look quite like rain. No, it was chunky, and dripping down his cheek in a most unpleasent way.

"That looks like shit on your face, Frank." I said, stating what was becoming obvious.

"God must be shittin' on us."

"I reckon so."

I crained my neck up to get a look at the sky above, figuring it must be some wild animal or somethin' having it's fun like a monkey in the motherfuckin' zoo.

But all I saw was a pair of shoes. Swinging, like they was hanging from a body that was hanging from a rope that was hanging from that impossibly high tree.

Shoes.

They were them Nike Pump's. You remember those? They were all the rage.

They were gray with the little Orange basketball shaped pump thing on the front, and the little release valve on the side.

I remembered when Ty got a pair of those. He couldn't afford 'em, so he had me and Frank get into a fight in the store while he was trying them on, and then while we were beating the fuck out of each other, he high tailed it out of there, his shoes pumped to perfection.

Shoes just like that, save the shit dripping off of them.

And just like that, Frank figured it out. His eyes went wide, his face got white like if the Pirates just won the World Series.

"That's... that's Ty."

"That ain't Ty, what would Ty be doing up there?"

We both stared for a moment, trying to figure out what exactly was going on.

I traced the rope with my eyes, trying to figure out where it was tied to. But it wasn't tied anywhere. It was like somebody'd just been drug up there by God himself and left to hang. The nearest branch, the branch the rope hung from, was a good 20 or so feet up, and I didn't reckon neither Frank nor I could make it that far to cut him down.

But we had to. It might be Ty. I mean, I'm sure it's not Ty, but, it might be, right?

But we tried. For an hour almost. Takin' turns, slipping and slidding, I damn near tore off my left nut trying.

Finally, Frank got up pretty high, and he used that pen light (it was a pen knife on the other side, apparently) to saw away at the rope, till it snapped and the body fell down like a sack of potatoes.

That sound, incidently, I still hear it in my sleep. My nightmares, I guess.

And so, there, in a crumpled heap and covered in shit and piss, was my brother. Deader than a doornail, no note, no explanation. Just plain dead. I'd always known Ty wasn't quite right, but, this is a bit worse than that.

My dad killed himself too, despite the healthy diet and the no pancakes rules, he actually tried to hang himself, but it didn't work. Instead the i-beam in the basement snapped, and he fell down on that concrete slab. He hit his head, and his heart just gave up. So, they said it was technically an accident, but, I say when a man's got a noose round his neck, it probably ain't no accident when you find him dead, even if he is curled up in a ball by the fucking washing machine.

Me and Frank lifted up Ty, doing our best to avoid the shit and dribble. We carried him back to our place and woke my mom. She came downstairs and cried and cried, bout how all of her men were leaving her, and all she had left was us halfwits. Which, while probably somewhat accurate, was still a bit too cruel for even her.

We couldn't afford a proper service or nothing, so we asked the town for some money from the town council budget, and they gave us like all of one hundered dollars, and we did some begging and pleading with the man at the Pittski's Funeral Home (I told my mom she should offer to blow that creepy old fuck for a free coffin, but she was still uptight about sex and stuff.)

We put Ty in the ground, and not hardly anybody showed up, ceptin' us, obviously. We got a couple extra days off from school, which is cool, cause if I missed anymore without permission, I'd've gotten kicked the fuck out.)

Me and Frank graduated, and I got a job at the Mill over in Edgewood. I'd go on to lose 3 fingers total, and marry some bitch that wouldn't let me stick in her pooper. Frank didn't never find a real job, and he got killed in a car accident 'bout three years ago now. My moms is still alive somehow. Everytime someone she loves dies it makes her that much more determined to suffer through life. I figured she'd've kicked it by now, but she's waitin' on me to go first, so as she can be a real martyr, I guess.

But, I ain't going nowhere. I don't drink and drive, and now they keep me away from the sheet metal, and I don't think I could ever figure out how to hang myself from a tree as nice as Ty did, or hang myself so poorly from a rafter as my dads did, so I suppose I'll just wait it on out, and see which one of us croaks first.

My money's on her.