Even before my younger brother was born, I knew I was going to be a middle child. Not that I felt like I ever had the full attention of either of my parents. My father was always preoccupied with his business -- until he met his end at the hands of an angry mob, that is -- and my mother had her own interests. The rearing of children was clearly not among them.
My older brother Charles dealt with this by doing mean things to her prized possession, a stallion of Arabian descent that also happened to be his namesake. I thought he was being petty and juvenile, but didn’t say so for fear of incurring his considerable wrath. As long as Charles was directing his pent-up aggression elsewhere, I knew that I would be safe from the tortures that older brothers usually inflict on their siblings.
Not that I’ve truly escaped unharmed. I’ve seen Charles do such terrible, sadistic things that I’m sure I will require psychiatric attention at some point. In fact, I’m rather looking forward to it. I don’t know how many high school juniors undergo a complete mental breakdown each year, but I feel like mine won’t be very long in coming.
I’ve witnessed my fair share of upsetting things in my family’s stables -- not all of them horse-related. I used to think this was because I was good at hiding and thus got to see things people wouldn’t do if they knew they were being watched, but more and more I feel like it’s because I’m inconspicuous as a matter of course. I could probably stand right out in the open while my mother had one of her liaisons with her stable master Rodrigo and neither of them would notice me, but I’ve never been that brazen.
In a way, I don’t mind that my mother neglected to have “the talk” with me when I reached puberty, because every Wednesday afternoon I lie in the hayloft and get a free lesson in what passes for human sexual relations. In fact, I’ve reached the point where all I have do is smell hay and I instantly get aroused. I wait until they’re finished to jerk off, though. Not that I fear being caught (I’ve mastered the art of climaxing silently), I just think it would be sick to do it in my mother’s presence.
Charles died on a Wednesday (the horse, not my brother). Naturally, I was in the stable when it happened. My mother had just come back from her usual post-coital ride and was in the process of dismounting when the horse inexplicably slipped, its legs buckling under. Rodrigo immediately rushed to help my mother up, but there was no helping Charles. The sound of the bone snapping had been unmistakable.
The horse made a terrible racket as it thrashed around on the ground -- even more terrible than the time Charles (my brother, not the horse) had covered its underside in itching powder. Rodrigo offered to mend the leg and nurse the horse back to health, but my mother insisted on putting it out of its misery. They had been through too much together.
As Rodrigo went in search of a gun, I remained up in the loft, feeling intensely guilty about the whole thing. You see, the place where Charles slipped was right below where I had pleasured myself just a few minutes earlier -- and I never was careful about where my emissions went.
Later that night, when I called my brother at college to tell him what happened, I left that part out. After all, I didn’t want him to think I was encroaching on his territory.