The Liturgical Hours Have Slipped from the Sidereal

Outside the front door cars approach, bearing news and family, bastards all, demons, wild men and bloody, and aye their women. We gather, the clans, to celebrate, to eulogize, to curse and rage against the end of life, to remember, and, at last, to make peace. To forget. Our father is dead, but not buried, and so we have come to the ancient home, immemorial, incestuous, ingrown seat of plenty, to indulge in expensive liquor and cheap badinage.

The bell in the Catholic church rings, ten, twelve, fifteen times, warning of the storm approaching. Drama, drama. One of Terry’s wolfhounds comes padding from the direction of the library and I aim a kick at it, which through long practice it avoids.

“You’re in a foul mood,” says Terry, trailing behind it. “But don’t take it out on my dogs, poor brutes.”

“Damn your dogs, and damn you, too.”

His eyes are cool, but there are lines around his mouth that lengthen in anger. Oh, he’s a cool one, my brother, self-contained. I would beat him and drive him to passion but he is stronger than I am, four inches taller and forty pounds heavier. “How much have you had to drink?”

“Are you keeping score, now? Are you your brother’s keeper? This false piety –“

“Enough!” And for a moment his hands shake and I see the wild hatred hidden in the planes of his face and would dance if I could.