At times, I was mean to Doodle. I took him to the barn loft, and showed him his coffin. We didn't leave until he touched it. He cried the way back.
"Don't leave me. Don't leave me."
When Doodle was five years old, I was embarrassed at having a brother of that age who couldn't walk, so I set out to teach him. After many, many days, it paid off. He could walk.
"I'm going to teach you to walk, Doodle."
"So I won't have to haul you around all the time."
"I can't walk, Brother."
A strange sound brought us outside after a storm. There was a bird in the tree. After it fell to the ground and died from exhaustion, dad found it to be a Scarlet Ibis.
"What is it?"
The faster I walked, the faster he walked, so I began to run. The rain was coming, roaring through the pines, and then, like a bursting Roman candle, a gum tree ahead of us was shattered by a bolt of lightning. When the deafening peal of thunder had died, and in the moment before the rain arrived, I heard Doodle, who had fallen behind, cry out, "Brother, Brother, don't leave me! Don't leave me!"
After a few minutes, my mean streak dissipated. I waited for Doodle, but when he didn't appear from the blowing mist. I went back. He was huddled with his head laying on his knees. I shook him, only for his head to fall back. Blood stained his shirt and trickled from mouth. Doodle was gone.