My brother, the murderer.
When I found out my brother was a murderer, I don’t quite remember what I did. Maybe I poured myself a mug of coffee. A pack of creamer, two sugars. So hot it singed the tip of my tongue. Probably shocked my coworker half to death, too, as he waited for me to cry or freak or faint, then realized I would do none of those. Just drank my coffee, as I did every morning. Didn’t even say a word.
The others in my office had one of two reactions. Either they avoided me like I was some ebola-infested rapist (I appreciated the space, to be frank) or they doused me with words of comfort and encouragement. That I’d “get over this”. That I, unlike Kennedy Briant whose angriest pictures plastered TV screens and online news sites, was a good person (which I was not).
I informed my boss that I was going take the rest of the day off. He seemed relieved, almost. A “normal” person would have done the same- gone home, cried for a long time, wondered why someone of their own flesh and blood would commit such an atrocity. I just needed to get away from the incessant office pity.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I felt some semblance of sympathy towards the students, those who had to experience such a traumatic event. Towards the families of the fourteen lost. A highschool shook to pieces on a sunny day, prom preparation replaced with bullets inside fellow classmates. They would never be the same again, that much was obvious.
Online, rumors circulated. Kennedy Briant was a psychopath. Kennedy Briant was bullied as a middle-schooler. Kennedy Briant was my neighbor, and he always seemed so nice.
My Internet perusing was interrupted by strong knocking upon my door. A gang of federal officials had come to my house, where they interrogated me, then, finding no evidence of my involvement, offered me legal protection. I declined. They told me that they had already interviewed my parents, and that Mom and Dad were hiding inside a state safehouse, surprised by the situation but doing alright. I laughed at this.
“You seem unfazed by this horror of an act,” one of the men told me, unimpressed by my laughter. His hidden accusation did not lay unnoticed.
“I do not consider this a surprising development,” I replied.
He blinked, twice, then whispered something to one of his assistants. The assistant, a gawky intern with large specs and belligerent hair, eyed me cautiously and scribbled down a note.
“My heart goes out to all the victims,” I suddenly found myself saying, eyelashes fluttering away tears that had magically sprung up in my eyes. “I can’t imagine what they’re going through.”
The assistant paused, pen stuck mid-letter. He looked almost compassionate behind those dusty lens. I managed a sniffle. Then, despite my innocence, a sense of victory washed over me.
“But Kennedy was always an odd one, you know?” I continued. “Liked to hurt animals and such. Never quite understood him.”
The elder officer looked a bit more relieved, just like my boss did earlier in the day. I wiped my face. Gave him a sad smile.
The feds left, reminding me one last time that I was always welcome to their protection if I ever needed it. I shut off the TV as they slid down the driveway in their long, black cars, tinted windows offering up no explanation to the happenings inside.
I felt a little sick in my stomach, a little shaky from my manipulative words. It’s not that I feared the truth. It was only that no one would understand it. To me, amidst the bloodsplatterd hallways and cries of parents and cries of political figures taking advantage of the situation, there was no surprise. Nor was there any confusion.
I boiled up a fresh pot of coffee, drank another mug of it. A pack of creamer, two sugars. Scalded the tip of my newly-healing tongue, but I barely felt it. I sat down, thought of my parents hidden away in the safehouse (the irony) and the games of hide-and-seek that I used to play with Kennedy. He was such a bright boy. Used to be so happy until the “world” got to him.
I finished my coffee, soaked the mug in the sink, a final plea for self-survival. Caffeine ran in my veins, and I felt nothing again. Not even guilt for my guiltlessness. The same empty feeling I had ever since I was sixteen, when Kennedy’s room started to smell heavily of air freshener, when he became infatuated with long-sleeve shirts that hung around his fingertips. I laid down on the couch, wondered why my brother had to go out like this. They said he left by his own accord, right after he stole the light from fourteen others. I thought of a safehouse, and said nothing.
Wrote this on a whim. It's unbeta-ed, barely edited. Hopefully alright. Not too pretentious?