Brothers

Brothers
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Brothers

When her father was drunk, he’d say, ‘I used to have a brother, you know’, and get this faraway look in his eyes. When he was sober there was never any mention of a brother and if questioned about family history, her father would quickly change the subject. She adored him and did not want to press or annoy him too much. On several occasions when he was out of the house, she rummaged looking for any photographs of him as a young man in the hope that this brother he kept mentioning when he was drunk, really did exist. There might be a couple of snaps somewhere, – even just one – of the two brothers posing. She found nothing. When her mother was alive, she hadn’t mentioned a brother-in-law. Vicky had asked about a wedding album but her mother said they couldn’t afford one back in the fifties. If there was a brother, he might have been best man. But neither parent confirmed anything. They were tight-lipped about this part of the past.

Guinness and gin loosened her father’s tongue enough for her to assume that he had something to hide or that his imagination was playing tricks. But why would he say such a thing? Vicky even booked an appointment at the register office to search birth, marriage and death records. She found documents about her mother and father but after following clues and links and trying to guess at possible dates, she found nothing in the official archives about an uncle. She only had a surname to go on and that proved not to be enough.

Then, as often happens, in the early hours of one morning, she woke suddenly, sat up in bed and pondered a possibility that had not occurred to her. She put the notion that no such man existed to one side for the time being and considered the idea that a person seemingly airbrushed from family history might have been some kind of embarrassment, a criminal perhaps. 

Vicky spent hours online searching old newspapers for any scrap of information. Old court reports were interesting generally but there was nothing specific about this phantom brother. She even wrote a short piece and posted it on Facebook asking if anything clicked with anyone. The mystery man was always on Vicky’s mind. So she stopped searching for a few weeks and got on with her life. On a coffee break at work some time later, she checked her social media accounts. There was a message waiting on Facebook. She clicked it and read: ‘Hi. I read your post about a possible uncle. I think I know the man you are looking for. He ruined my life. I was only thirteen. He ruined my life. Him and his brother.’

Joe Cushnan

About Joe Cushnan

Joe Cushnan was born and raised in Belfast. Now retired after a long retail management career, he devotes as much time as possible to writing. He has a portfolio of published features, review, poetry and fiction, a career-retrospective book, Retail Confidential, and a film star biography, Stephen Boyd: From Belfast to Hollywood.

Joe Cushnan was born and raised in Belfast. Now retired after a long retail management career, he devotes as much time as possible to writing. He has a portfolio of published features, review, poetry and fiction, a career-retrospective book, Retail Confidential, and a film star biography, Stephen Boyd: From Belfast to Hollywood.

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