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My other brother Darrell
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The phone was ringing off the wall.

Ring-a-lingling ... Ring-a-lingling....

I was not going to hurry what was occupying my time at the moment ... let’s just say it involved “toilet paper” ... so I decided to just let the phone ring.

Sometimes it is not worth the burst of energy it takes to leap across the room to retrieve a call.

After a few loud chimes, it stopped.

About a minute later it started back up again.

I rolled my eyes and hollered, “In a minute!”

You know, thinking whoever it was would hear me and wait.

Finally it stopped ringing.

“Good. Now I can read the funnies,” I commented to myself.

I finished up and was washing my hands when I heard it again.

“Dang! It’s got to be either Publisher’s Clearing House or someone in the family has died.”

There could be no other reason for someone trying so frantically to reach me.

I took the hand towel and flipped onto my shoulder as I scuttled into the kitchen to answer the phone.


What I really wanted to say was, “What? What the heck do you want for heaven’s sake?”

It was quiet on the other end so I had to say it again.

“Yo. Hello. Anybody there?”

I heard a rustling sound, like someone had dropped their receiver into a pile of plastic shopping bags.

Then I heard a voice.

“Hello....? Ellen...?”

Oh Lord.

“Darrell! What happened? What’s up? You OK?”

It was Crazy Darrell from my art class.

“Oh, I just dropped my phone into a pile of plastic shopping bags. Can you hear me?”

“Why? You wearin’ one on your head?”

He laughed.

“Oh no, I just came from the liquor store.”

“Really? What are you doing at the liquor store? Don’t you know that you can get into trouble down at the liquor store?”

“Oh well, I was just buying some chips and a candy bar for a friend.”

I laughed.

“That’s the lamest excuse I have ever heard. Seriously, what were doing down there?”

He laughed again and said, “Gettin’ into trouble.”

No doubt.

I had to laugh again.

“All right. Now, what’s going on. What can I do for you?”

“Well, I wanted to let you know about class. My dad is gonna take me to class, but I wondered if you could still give me a ride home?”

“Sure, no problem. That’ll be fine.”

“OK. I just need to call my dad back and let him know.”

“All right. Stay outta the liquor store, Darrell. You sure don’t need to be getting into trouble!”

“OK, Ellen. I’ll behave. See you on Monday.”

Monday came and went.

No Darrell.

Uh oh.

I was pretty surprised that he wasn’t in class.

Out of curiosity, I called him when I got home.

He didn’t answer so I left him a message.

A few hours later, the wandering minstrel called back.

“What happened, Darrell? Did you need a ride to class?”

“Ahhh...nah...” at which point he let out a little laugh.

“Did you get into trouble?”

“Ahhh...yeah...,” he said.

I laughed and said, “Oh, boy. Did your dad put you on restriction for getting into trouble?”

“Yeah, basically. Even though I live at a halfway house, he still gets mad at me for doing dumb stuff.”

“I can understand that. You’re 51, right?”

“Yeah. But some things I can’t seem to stop doing.” And he laughed again.

I really didn’t want to know exactly what he was talking about, so I didn’t ask.

“You’re not into devil worshiping or any of that stuff, are you?”

He thought that was very funny.

“Naw, nothing like that. I sometimes get carried away when I drink.”

I nodded, even though he couldn’t see me.

“Well, try to stay on a good path. Call me if you get to go back to class and I’ll give you a ride if you need one.”

“OK, that would be real nice. Thanks.”

“No problem. But we ain’t stoppin’ at no liquor stores.”

Ol’ Darrell.

I’m beginning to rethink my “Christian charity” where he’s concerned.

He might be happier with a bag of chips and a candy bar.