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They left town when the sun was falling, hands entwined, but hopeless. Their hands were too warm, too moist. It didn’t matter. The important thing was to have an anchor. And they were used to the others' warm, sweating hands. In fact, were they to think of it, they would realize that their earliest memories were of reaching out for a warm, wet hand. They shared a bed, and they reached for each other in the black night. They shared the dinner table with their father and his demons, and they reached for each others' hands under the tablecloth. They had grown up hand in hand. So, it was natural. And if someone tried to fuck with them, they’d tell them to go to hell. And, if that didn’t work, they would say they were brothers. And, if that didn’t work, well, fuck it. They’d taken enough punches.
They weren’t worried.
Behind them, there was chaos. They could not see it, but they could feel it. Deep in their bones they’d known how the town would react. The town was a part of them, and they knew it almost as well as they knew the desperate, strong clutch of each others’ hands.
“They’ve got the fire under control now, huh?”
“Gotta figure. They’ll find the real prize soon enough.”
“And then what?”
“We become the devil, I guess. They’d never believe us. They never did believe us. Remember when you told Coach Johnson? I told my teacher. Both of them looked at us like we were crazy and told us to show the old man the respect he deserved. We never said a word again. In hindsight…”
It was proper dark now, and they were moving further away from the lights. More stars overhead. Things were quieter. Or a different kind of loud. A better kind. Natural.
“We did the right thing?”
“No. Of course not. But we did the only thing.”
“We were never going to convince them that Mom didn’t just fall down the stairs. That this had been building. It was going to be one of us next. We had to do it.”
“Yep. No choice.”
Back in town, there were rich, white folks and poor white folks talking more than usual. They still didn’t cross the color divide, not even to hit the liquor stores that were still open. They drank coffee and shook their heads and wondered what kind of psychopath would kill the Mayor. The best man any of them knew. They weren’t used to this kind of thing. Unless it was on the TV, so it took them too long to realize that the boys were gone. They got on the horn quick, but they didn’t even know the right people to call.
It gave Jimmy and Johnny the start they needed. They had the whole thing planned out. Handy, living next to the border. Nice, to be dark-skinned with jet black hair. They had their mother to thank for that. And for the fluent Spanish that fell effortlessly from their lips.
“You know, I always wondered. Some folks hated the Old Man for marrying outside his race. Some people thought it made him a hero. We know why he really did it. I wonder how that will play out. I guess he’ll always be a hero to most and a traitor to some.”
They stopped walking and dropped hands to light a cigarette.
“That’s none of our concern. Let’s just be glad for once that people care about pigment. And as much as I hate that fucking wall, something tells me that’s going to work in our favor, too. How you feel about being an expatriate?”
“Seriously? I think I was born that way. You?”
“I think you took my answer.”
They were in Mexico by morning. And they wondered, but realized that they would never know. Not if things went according to plan. And, so far, the plan was working.
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