It was a beautiful day and the gang of young friends were gathered around the picnic table at the lake beside Warren High School. Aric who was about 15 was talking about this beautiful girl he was sure to marry and passing around a picture. His big slow witted brother Chris 17 was there digging at something in the front of his swim trunks. Troy also 15 was hitting the joint and laughing to himself about how big and slow witted Chris was. There was another set of brothers, Mike 17 and his little brother Vern 15. Vern's real name was Mark but he had been given the nickname 'Vern' by someone because he had his head shaved and he looked exactly like that kid in that new movie 'Stand By Me'.
As everyone sat around getting high and taking a break from swimming in the lake their second favorite subject came up, how to score some alcohol for this evening. As all the boys were in their teens, finding someone to ask to buy beer was not difficult but finding the money to pay for it was. Troy said, ''You know my mom will get a couple of cases for us but we have to drink it at the house.'' That idea was quickly voted down. That was OK for a weekend camping party but it was 1 o'clock in the afternoon on a summer day. ''My girlfriends brother can get it if we come up with the money!'' Aric said. Which as soon as he said it, everyone realized was pointless because that didn't solve the main problem of no money. That's when Vern spoke up matter-of-factly saying to his brother, ''Its a fucking shame you stole that $20 from me the other day.''
Immediately everyone snapped to attention as Mike bristled and jumped to his feet staring daggers at his chubby little brother. ''Fuck you! I didn't steal shit, you little fucking mouth!''
Vern responded, ''That's funny cause when i asked you to cash my check from old man Floyd for baling hay all week you only gave me $20 back.''
Aric hung his head, he knew it was probably true because he and Vern had both sweated their asses off all week for $40 in old man Floyd's fields. Troy said nothing and was looking at his feet because he knew it was true, he drank half the beer that Mike bought with the $20 the other day.
Mike being the boss of the gang, walked around to Vern's side of the table to get directly in front of him and said through gritted teeth, ''You better watch your mouth fat boy!'' Everyone was standing now as things were quickly and predictably escalating.
What was totally unexpected even by Vern was his response. ''You're a fucking liar! You stole that...'' and before he finished his sentence Mike started pouring on the punches. Vern ate five or six very hard punches to the face and when it was all over he was bleeding a good bit from the nose and mouth. Mike being enraged as he often was was shouting in Vern's face, ''Listen you little fat faggot say one more thing and I'll kill you!'' Vern stood there bleeding defiantly and noticed how his brother stuck out his chest as if he was putting on a show for everyone. He heard his brother say, ''Don't say another fucking word!''
Vern was distracted by the thick bloody mucus filling his mouth and motivated by years of these violent outbursts, not only to him but to every member of his family he decided to show how at 15 he didn't care about the beatings anymore.
Being too small at this point in his life to physically confront his brother, he decided to take a stand by gathering together all this bloody mucus in his mouth and spit it directly onto his brothers chest. The last thing he heard was Aric gasp 'Vern!' and he took the worst beating of his life.
When Mike exhausted himself he stopped to the relief of everyone. This was not Vern's first beating nor his last but with this one something had changed in him and he knew it. With this beating a fuse had been lit. A fuse that would ignite an isolating hatred that would go on to consume him and effect every relationship from that point on.
After his brother left him, he gathered himself up in complete silence. Everyone was left speechless by the violent display they had witnessed between these two brothers. Deep inside Mike's damaged cortex he possibly even realized he had gone to far.
Vern now bleeding profusely from his face and both eyes swelling shut, walked while pulling his lips off his teeth to the Dairy Bar to use the phone to call his parents for a ride home. But as he walked he felt something akin to pride. He knew that the only thing his brother had over him no longer mattered cause he had been conditioned to take anything his violent brother could dish out.
Not until inside the ice cream shop that was full with his fellow students, while standing at the phone waiting on someone to answer, with everyone staring silently at him did tears well up in his eyes. An older kid wearing a letterman jacket had came over to him and asked ''My god! What happened...Who did that?' and Vern answered, ''My brother...'' he heard the guy in disbelief repeat, ''Your brother did that?!' Thats when he realized, ''My brother did this.''