Mrs Van Mason had
sat her sons around the dining-room table and now stared at them with
a long-suffering look, which seemed to despair of them ever growing up.
This look touched the two boys' consciences and made them sit still and
listen to their mother. It seemed that this was going to be a family talk.
The two boys had bad memories of these talks from earlier days, before
the divorce, when their father was still the man of the house. Then, those
councils had always seemed to be about chores; that this one or another
had not been done, and someone always had to be proved right. And those
councils had always become loud, although Sniv and Jason hardly knew what
Their mother took a deep breath. Would you be all right on your
own for a few days?
The boys stared wide-eyed. Behind those eyes you could see the expectation
that this was the introduction to some special announcement.
My Aunt Margaret - Marge from Southend, you know her, dont
you - is in hospital. Since her husband died, shes had nobody to
help her. Im going to look after her and take care of her house.
Mrs Van Mason gave her sons a penetrating look, as though she might read
their minds. I think Ill need about four days, from tomorrow
on. She noticed a short reflexive jerking about their mouths and
a mysterious shining about their eyes. Still the two of them didnt
seem sure if they needed to suppress a joyful shout or if their good cheer
was in vain. I dont have to bother with a baby sitter anymore,
do I? asked Mrs Van Mason with a slightly exaggerated strictness.
It took a few moments for the boys to realize that this required an answer.
Reluctantly, but then at the same time, they shook their heads. "Nooo,"
they said, trying to project an air of injured innocence.
Ive called Niklas mother. Youll go to the Edlunds
for dinner. Ive bought enough for every other meal. There is even
bread stored in the freezer, you can put it in the microwave. She
stopped for a moment in hesitation and looked at her sons, as if unsure
that those two wouldnt kill each other with the household appliances.
Jason noticed his mothers doubts and quickly said, thats
okay, I know how to do that, we wont die of starvation, with
a glance aside to his brother. Sniv still didnt know what to say
and looked from his mother to his big brother and back, his mouth half
Mrs Van Mason sighed and surrendered. Dont mess up the house.
If I come back and the house is a battlefield, youll live to regret
it, you hear. Have you got that?
Hardly perceptible nods. Yeeeez, mum.
Later that evening,
Sniv and Jason lay spread out over the couches, as usual, and expressionlessly
watched a rather boring cartoon on the television. After some time, Sniv
turned to his big brother. Sunk deep in the image on the screen, Jason
kept his finger stuck in his nose as if to stop something from running
out. When Sniv didnt take his eyes off him, he glared back at his
brother and asked: Whats up?
At first Sniv waited to see if Jason would take his finger out of his
nose. What are we gonna do tomorrow when we're alone?
Finally, Jason withdrew his finger and looked at its tip, murmuring: Dunno,
make a suggestion. And began to work at the finger with his incisors.
Sniv lay back and stared at the ceiling. What are we not usually
allowed to do?
Thoughtful silence. Eating the whole tub of ice-cream, mumbled
Jason around his finger.
...while watching cartoons until we go nuts. Blissfully, Sniv
smiled at the ceiling.
Yeah, Jason seemed to agree with this plan. He turned back
to the flickering screen.
...and drinking coke until late at night. Sniv was keeping
his mind 'way more on the subject than his brother. His face started to
shine and glow as he thought about the endless possibilities of being
home alone. On the other hand, Jason never seemed to lose
the feeling that he was at least a little responsible for his little brother
and should hold him back in his thirst for acting wild. So when Sniv added,
and getting the others here too, Jason muttered, hey,
dont go crazy.
Sniv felt dictated to. Why not, its much more fun with everybody
We dont have enough stored for a real party. Jason looked
uninterested as if he didnt care to discuss it.
His little brother looked him up and down, as if seeking the weak point
of that floppy form on the sofa. Imperceptibly, the expression on his
face changed to one of slight underhandedness. But at least Jon
could come, couldnt he? Curiously, Sniv watched to see how
his brother would react.
Jason slightly lost his stoic, quiet appearance and looked from the TV
to Snivs waiting face and back. And when this face became a victorious
grin, Jason grabbed a cushion and threw it at his brother. Instinctively,
Sniv ducked to one side so that the cushion dropped short of his curly
head. Jason pursued. In a moment he was above his brothers smaller
and lighter figure trying to get him into a headlock. Sniv retracted his
legs and curled up into a ball so that Jason clutched at his head in vain.
Just wait, Jason panted and changed the target to his brothers
feet. Seductively, Snivs white socks gleamed under his curled up
body. When Jasons fingers crawled on them, light as a spider, a
reflexive jerking went through his rolled-up brother. Then a half choked
snort came out of the sofa cushions. Sniv tried to repel the tickle attack
by kicking, but he couldnt get rid of Jasons fingers, which
tickled every part they could reach of their kicking and twisting brother.
Sniv gasped for air. Heyyy, stop that stupid.
Jason let go of him. There was a real shortness of breath in Snivs
voice and his face was glowing red. That was for trying to blackmail
me. Jason justified himself.
Huh? Why blackmail?
You know exactly why.
Sniv sat up, his face still red and sweaty. Jon is MY best friend.
We are the same age and in the same class.
Jason got his merciless big brother face, his freckles looked deeper red
So what, is everybody in your class your best friend? And why shouldnt
Jon be my best friend too?
Sniv folded his arms and ducked his head a bit, like he always did when
arguing with his big brother. And what about Niklas and Fabi then?
Youve known them much longer, havent you? And Jonathon has
only been here with us a few times. Sniv was sure he was superior
to his brother in argument and that Jason would use his superior strength
unfairly as soon as he ran out of arguments. But when it came to Jonathon,
Jason proved to be unexpectedly vulnerable.
You cant tell me whos my best friend! And it absolutely
doesnt matter how long youve known each other. Jasons
voice sounded unusually defensive.
And why not ask Jonathon to come here when were alone?
Vincent and Jason stared a while into each others eyes. In Snivs
there was defiance and rebellion against his big brother, in Jasons
there was the search for a pretext why hed rather meet Jonathon
without Sniv being around. More by reflex than from the heart, Jason punched
his brothers upper arm.
Auuuh, Sniv groaned, exaggerating loudly, and held his arm.
Naturally! Once more he got only brute violence from his brother, instead
of an admission that he had no better arguments.
Mrs Van Masons head appeared in the doorway to the study where she
was sitting down looking at some bills and bank statements. What
are you two squabbling about?
Immediately the boys forgot about their argument, thinking only that their
mother could change her mind if they didnt get on with each other.
They looked up with innocent faces. Nothing mom, said Sniv.
We already agreed, pretended Jason.
Looking admonishingly at them, the head disappeared into the study again.
Dork, grumbled Sniv at his brother.
Cry baby, hissed Jason.
It took a long time
after breakfast before Mrs Van Mason finally carried her luggage to the
car and her two sons could stand expectantly in the doorway to say goodbye.
She took a deep breath and looked once more at her offspring. Both were
neatly combed, Vincent even wore his slippers which he usually didnt
do without getting grumpy. Mrs Van Mason had to laugh out loud and shook
her head. You hypocrites. I should take a photo of you now and give
it to a newspaper. A cartoon without words.
Sniv and Jason waited motionless. One could just make out a certain offence
in their faces, that their mother could so persistently doubt they could
ever really be as good as that.
Mrs Van Mason noticed this and tried to take her sons seriously - something
that most parents dont manage. She wrapped her arms around the two
and squeezed them against her cheeks. Just take care, thats
all I want from you, she said quietly and kissed them. Then she
turned and got into the car. When she turned the starter the boys stopped
breathing for a moment. But the car started without problems.
Their mother waved coquettishly one last time and drove out onto the street.
Sniv and Jason ran to the side walk and looked after the car. It disappeared
behind a bend and the street became quiet again.
Now they were really on their own. Jason wanted to high five Sniv but
his little brother suddenly looked sad, somehow. A bit numb, Sniv stood
there in his slippers on the sidewalk and gazed down the quiet street.
Dont tell me its true, thought Jason, this
baby is missing his mom already.
I hope you dont wet your pants, he was tempted to say,
but he realised that he would spoil the whole day with that. Indecisively,
he waited until Sniv turned away from his view down the street and asked
instead, what do we do first?
His little brother looked at him and got a mischievous expression.
doorbell seemed to go completely unheeded. That was no wonder from the
fearful din that came through the closed door. The cranked up stereo drowned
out any other sound from the Van Mason home, although it was impossible
to figure out what piece of music was playing.
Niklas gave up on the front door and ran to the narrow garden gate next
to the garage, got on tiptoe, and peered behind it. In the garden, no-one
was to be seen. The gate was unlocked as usual. Niklas pushed it open
and went into the garden, behind the house. Here the roaring music could
be heard even more clearly, undoubtedly it came from the living room.
One of Jasons Dave Matthews Band CDs that he was only allowed to
play in his room, at moderate volume. Niklas tried to peer through the
windows of the living room but the curtains seemed to be closed. He shook
his head, mumbled something about nuts, and tried the back
door leading to the kitchen. The door stood slightly ajar. When Niklas
entered the kitchen, the volume of the music increased to a body shaking
On the worksurface lay a two litre tub of strawberry and cream ice-cream
containing nothing but a sticky spoon and a melted residue. Two smudged
dishes in the sink gave clear evidence of its fate and which two sweet-toothes
were responsible for guzzling the whole tub. A nearly empty bottle of
cola stood open beside the fridge. Shaking his head, Niklas went on into
Mess all over the place. Carelessly dropped slippers spread on the floor,
some drawers stood open, their content churned up, some of Mrs Van Masons
scarves hung around the bannisters. Through the crack in the door to the
living room came light, flickering somehow to the beat of the music. Uncertainly,
Niklas pushed through the door.
The living room was darkened, the stereo was turned up until it sounded
like it was nearly bursting. One of the figures there madly switched a
couple of covered desk and floor lamps on and off, obviously to create
something like a light show. The other figure stood on the coffee table
and played wildly on a tennis racket, like a rock guitarist. Both had
taken off their shirts, tied scarves around their heads like headbands,
and equipped themselves with sunglasses and pendants of costume jewellery.
The guitarist - obviously Jason - shrugged when he noticed
Niklas standing in the doorway. He shouted something that wasnt
understandable over the noise. Niklas looked helpless.
Jason descended from the coffee-table and turned the music down. Just
then, Sniv noticed what was going on and stopped his light show.
Jason took off his sunglasses. Hiii, he said to Niklas. He
was damp with sweat, his face and bare chest were shining and his hair
stuck in strands to his forehead. Around his neck swung a colorful enamel
medallion of his mothers from the 70s.
Hi, you rocker, said Niklas and next moment burst out in laughter.What
on earth is this? He pointed to Jasons upper arm. With a color
marker, Sniv had drawn a kind of tattoo there, a bleeding heart with an
arrow stuck in it. Niklas gave a sugary smile. Who is this for?
What, who is it for? Jason lifted his arm and examined the
tattoo as if he had overlooked something.
Well, usually you get that kind made if you are in undying love
with somebody. With initials below. So, J+ who?
Sniv joined in, also damp with sweat, I can fetch the marker and
write it in.
Niklas looked at Sniv, Yeah, J and...?
Jason shoved his brother, nothing doing! Thats about nobody
special. Just, when Im a rocker, I need a tattoo. I told Sniv to
draw a skull but he cant do one.
I CAN do a skull, but it just wasnt scary enough for you.
Niklas kept quiet. He imagined J+N on that sweaty upper arm,
but Jason would never show that to anyone. Except Fabian, maybe. Or Jonathon?
He wondered if Sniv was about to write J+J? No, Sniv watched
with envious eyes as Jason claimed his best friend for himself. Finally
Niklas said: My Mom sent me. Youre to come to us for dinner,
like our parents arranged.
Sniv looked down at himself. He wore old, holey, washed out jeans, that
were a bit too small for him, and he had scarves tied around his arms.
Is it already that late?
Come on, lets change, said Jason and ran to the stairs.
examined Snivs "look" more carefully. The headband looked
amazingly good on him, and he had never seen him in such skin tight jeans.
Sniv noticed his gaze and waited a moment. Niklas looked up and felt slightly
self conscious. Great costume, he stammered.
Sniv said nothing and smiled awkwardly. Then he followed Jason upstairs.
Niklas looked after him. How he envied Sniv for having a big brother!
During dinner, Mrs
Edlund enquired how the two brothers were getting on. Niklas had said
nothing about the chaos that reigned in the Van Mason house. He tried
to keep quiet while eating and not to laugh.
Jason and Vincent had quickly tidied themselves up. They again wore their
normal clothing, they had quickly put their sweaty heads under water,
and put their messed up hair in order with a comb, but they still looked
a bit exhausted. They quickly devoured everything that Mrs Edlund put
on their dishes.
Niklas merely nibbled, not concentrating on his food. He fidgetted uncomfortably
on his chair. When there was, for a while, a pause in the conversation,
he finally came out with a question: Mom, can I go with Jason and
Sniv to stay for a while after dinner?
At once Mrs Edlund knew what her son was up to. Oh no, dear, I think
its best you children all stay a while here.
But mom, why? Niklas couldnt stand when his parents
talked about the children. You could call Tina and her friends
the children, but not big boys like himself and Jason.
What would you want to do there alone? Just getting up to mischief,
Tina said, with an awkward look at her brother: I know what they
do when theyre alone!
Niklas glared at his little sister. It was surprising and almost scary,
how suddenly his usually dreamy blue eyes turned to a look that threatened
the darkest revenge should Tina say just another word. The little girl
stiffened with half open mouth and looked down at her fork and the fried
eggs. Niklas look announced little terrors for weeks, starting with
hidden doll clothes up to disgraceful lies about her to her friends.
What do you know about science fiction, Niklas tried to divert
No matter, you stay here, boys, Mrs. Edlund made it clear
once again. There is nothing that you couldnt play here as
well. How about another egg, Vincent, darling?
After dinner the boys ran upstairs to Niklas room and closed the
door behind them with emphasis. That was meant for Tina, who unavoidably
had jumped up with them and had made some steps to the stairs. But her
mother stopped her. Tina, dear, better let them go. You know well
how they get unbearable when they want to play alone. You should stay
downstairs with us.
For the rest of the evening the boys stayed in Niklas room and spread
through his trading cards with wizards and warriors and elves. They didnt
attend much to the game, mostly they talked about possibilities to escape
from their parents control. How Niklas could climb out of the window
at night to sneak to the Van Masons. How he could put pillows underneath
his blanket to make it look like he was there. How he could use the bed
sheet as a rope.
And then it was 10 and Mr. Edlund appeared in the door. Come on,
boys, its time for me to drive you home.
Quietly Sniv and Jason said good bye to their friend, knowing well that
Niklas wouldnt carry out their adventurous plans anyway.
After the noise of
Mr. Edlunds car had died away, a strange silence filled the home
of the Van Masons. Although the boys were used to being on their own when
their mother was away at work or other business, they felt that this was
a much more abandoned and empty silence, as if the house had stopped breathing.
Sniv and Jason looked at each other. The big eyes of his little brother
looked somehow moist, so that Jason thought Sniv was about to cry.
What do you think? whispered Sniv wickedly. Should we
find out what late night TV is REALLY like?
The expression on Jasons face slowly turned from astonishment to
a glowing mischievious smile.
A little later they had built nests of blankets and pillows on the two
couches in the living room and had put on their pyjamas. As a matter of
course Jason had taken command of the remote control and was zapping through
the channels. Dull whodunits, political babble and Cary Grant kissing
Audrey Hepburn found no mercy under his thumb. Only when the unmistakably
hysterical womans screaming of a horror film rang out did he stop
and stared with shining eyes at the grotesque images on the screen. Finally!
Real trash, totally unsuitable for children! And nobody was there to say,
switch that off, thats not good for you.
snuggled up in his blanket-nest and watched unknown actors as they tried
in vain to escape from a growling monster. Jason set the volume louder
than usually allowed so that the living room filled up with clatter and
screams. A robust looking man, obviously the hero, made efforts to save
women and kids. You have to make it! he shouted again and
again, and: Cmon, pull yourself together! Then something
crackled and shattered and the beast had come through the ventilation
shaft. Another co-actor with glasses stared wide-eyed into the camera,
then something hit him and a red blood fountain plastered over the screen.
Inevitably Jason turned to look at his little brother. Sniv lay rolled
up in his nest, holding his thumb half between the lips and watched the
flickering massacre without moving. Then he noticed his brothers
I know thats not real, Sniv affirmed unasked.
How about a war movie? offered Jason.
Sniv looked unwilling, his thumb still half between his lips. Naaaa,
thats kid stuff! Once more his brother was treating him almost
like a baby. Sniv was wildly determined to see only the really bad stuff,
anything else was a waste of time now.
Although skeptical, Jason left the horror movie on. At least the action
had slowed down a bit now. The robust hero had stuffed the women and children
into a car that - after the usual starting problems and the grunting beast
glued to the window pane - finally drove howling and skidding out on a
deserted country road. The woman in the front passengers seat -
surely the heroine - leaned on the heros broad chest and sighed
lovingly. The two boys in front of the TV felt the upcoming disaster.
Actually, after the hero had called a fat doddery policeman from a lonely
gas station, he looked deeply into the eyes of the heroine. And then they
Oh, nooo, screamed Sniv, theyre smooching!
Uhhhhhh, Jason groaned with nausea, fell back into his nest
with a thud and stuck his face between the pillows. I cant
This is sooo dumb! Sniv wailed and slapped himself on his
forehead, they just saw the biggest splatter scenes and only five
minutes later theyre kissing again! Thats im-pos-si-ble!
Jason slightly shook his head, his nose still buried between the pillows.
That movie is such a dud!
Luckily the action soon developed again, because the monster had hidden
in the unwitting policemans car. Obeying the logic of the screenplay,
it didnt set on the policeman but quietly let him drive it to the
shabby motel where all the main actors had gathered and were waiting for
things to come. Its first victim was the scruffy porters wife.
The boys jumped up cheering, The old hags gonna get it.
High-spiritedly Sniv hopped on his sofa so hard that the springs creaked.
Hey, stop that, the couch will crack, said Jason.
I dont - give a - shit! sang Sniv with a high voice
in the rhythm of his hopping.
Jason accepted the provocation and pounced on his brother. Together they
landed in Snivs pillows and began to scrap. For a while they completely
forgot about the film and had a good romp. When Sniv could free himself
he jumped in one leap over the back of the sofa and ran into the dining
room. Like he had gone crazy, Jason darted after him, slipped completely
over on the small carpet and crashed into the chairs around the dining
Unsure if his brother got hurt or not, Sniv skipped provokingly up and
down and sang: Are you dead or just wounded? Without hesitation
Jason leapt up again and clutched at Sniv, who shrieked and ran away.
When Sniv tried to open the door to the hall Jason caught him and dragged
him down to the ground. With pumping breath Jason pulled his body weight
upon Snivs belly and held his wrists. For a while both boys just
gasped for air.
Do you surrender? asked Jason.
Vincent looked at him, weakened, through half closed eyes. Some curly
strands adhered to his sweaty forehead, his cheeks were red like raspberries
and his lips seemed to pulse to his heavy heartbeat. Jason felt the body
heat from Snivs narrow chest coming up through the fabric of his
Why should I surrender? I got time. The tension left Snivs
wrists and it seemed that he began to make himself comfortable under Jasons
His big brother looked a bit helpless. Well miss the end of
the film, he finally said.
The noise of the TV again attracted the boys attention and reluctantly
both got up and climbed back into their nests of blankets and pillows.
Furtively Jason peered at his little brother. Somehow hed rather
switch off the movie and continue scrapping with Sniv. He couldnt
say why he didnt do it. His blanket felt a tad too warm now.
The main actors already were in the middle of the showdown. The shabby
motel was burning high, the robust hero pushed all women and children
outside right before burning roof-beams came tumbling down. Then, at his
attempts of rescuing himself, the beast blocked his way. Moments of fear
and a lot of dangerous grunts. The beast succeeded in injuring the heros
arm before he found the gun belonging to the obviously murdered policeman
lying in the burning inferno and fired it. The monster suffered some disgusting
damage, keeled over into the fire and exploded with a flare into bloody
chunks of flesh. The robust hero escaped in the last moment and landed
straight into the arms of the main actress. They kissed in front of the
blazing flames to the sound of the dramatically playing orchestra.
Why do they never call the firemen? muttered Jason and wrinkled
his nose. He turned to Sniv. Arent you tired, too?
His little brother looked wearied himself but nevertheless unbelieving.
You really wanna go to sleep so soon? Actually his comfortable
nest had lulled him in the past minutes, but Jasons intention to
tell him once again when he had to go to bed made him defiant. Now
why dont we watch a war movie?
Grudgingly Jason took the remote control and switched through the channels.
Surely, they really wanted to take the chance of staying up late, but
inevitably they got tired around this time just because they were used
to it. Jason yawned. All channels showed only dreary stuff now. Nothing
appealed to the boys. With a sigh Jason switched off.
We can stay up all night long tomorrow as well.
Sniv looked tired and gave in. Okay.
The intimacy of Snivs
bed had the usual narcotic effect on him and his eyelids drooped thankfully.
The boys had romped all the day nearly to exhaustion. The cover almost
pulled up to his nose he sank into deep, silent blackness.
First the impressions of his day always lingered on in his mind for a
while before he would slip into dreamless deep sleep. He heard Jasons
voice murmuring about plans for Niklas escape and the familiar face
of Mr. Edlund once again looked at him reproovingly. Again he sat in the
corner of Niklas room and listened to his brother and his friend
talking about tiresome parents. Time seemed to pass by while he was listening.
And there was the door of his wardrobe. He didnt wonder why his
wardrobe was in Niklas room, he just knew that he had to keep its
door shut at all cost and didnt know why. If he was just able to
move, his arms suddenly weighed tons! Jason and Niklas didnt notice
somehow, he had to do it on his own. He knew that he could brace himself
against the door all night if necessary, but his arms and legs seemed
to be stiff. Then he heard a half choked grunt from inside the wardrobe,
deep and vibrating.
Sniv hauled his head from the pillow and saw only blackness all around.
Absolute clearly now he felt the danger that came from his wardrobe and
finally he could move. With a pounding heart he thought for a moment.
First he felt like he should run away but then he clutched for his bedside
light. The sudden bright light hurt his eyes, and the pain helped him
back to the present, to his quiet bedroom. Though his wardrobe looked
like always and there was absolutely nothing to hear from its inside,
Sniv felt a latent untrustful fear. Driven by his pounding heart he drew
back his blanket and got up. A bit dizzy, he snuck to the door of his
room, tried to open it silently and in the dark corridor he felt for the
door knob to the neighboring room.
Jason still lay awake. Like so many times before he lay in the dark and
mulled over important things which he never seemed to have enough time
for or the right concentration by daylight. Anyway, he just couldnt
think about these things outside his bed and by light, they didnt
even come to his mind. When suddenly the door opened it made him leap
The small slim form with the curly head standing in the door was quickly
indentified as his brother. Sniv seemed to be unable to see anything in
the darkness of Jasons room and clung uncertainly to the door knob.
Whats up noooowww? Jason moaned.
Vincents child voice sounded husky and subdued. Jason?
Whats up, cant you sleep? Jason asked a bit too
The shady boy figure in the doorway stood limp and disheartened in a moment
of hesitation. Then it said with a weak voice: Nothing. Forget it,
and closed the door reluctantly.
Jason laid back on his pillow. There was something wrong with his brother.
Beside his usual feeling of being somehow responsible for Sniv he felt
now that he couldnt leave him alone in trouble. With a short sigh
Jason got up and walked to the door.
room was lit. The little brother sat on the edge of his bed and looked
as if he had a stomach-ache. His head was pale, his forehead and cheeks
looked hollow. He looked up embarrassed at Jason as if he felt guilty
Just because he was used to it Jason spoke rather unfeeling: Are
you sick? Or did you wet your bed?
Noooo, moaned Sniv. He hadnt wet his bed for years and
it hurt that his brother suspected him now. Just had a stupid dream.
Jason understood. That horror film had invaded Snivs innocent head,
inevitably. For a moment he was tempted to react scornfully but then he
simply felt pity for Sniv. He thought about what his mother would do now.
Do you want me to leave the door open, I mean, mine and yours?
Wistfully Sniv looked at his big brother. Jaaaaason, cant
you stay here? With a quick look he pointed to the second bed in
his room. His two beds were the upper and the lower half of a set of bunk
beds that the brothers once shared - years ago, when their fathers
files were piled up in the room that was now Jasons. Like
when we had this bed room together?
Jason stood numb in his shrunk old pyjamas and looked at his old bed.
It was still familiar to him like an old favorite toy that he didnt
play with anymore but that hed never give away. Then he looked back
His little brother put on that begging face that always had an absolutely
unfair effect on his mother. Please.
Usually Jason was immune to this face, to these deer-brown eyes with their
long lashes and these pouting lips. Just tonight it had an effect on him,
maybe because they were alone and nobody could see Jason's weakness. Okay,
Snivs face lit up. Cool!
Jason was just about to go and get his blankets and other bed things when
he stopped. He fixed his eyes on Snivs glancing eyes. Wouldnt
it be even cooler if we set up the bunk beds like before?
For a moment Sniv looked baffled. Can we do that? Arent they
Not if we put down the mattress first.
Without any further discussion the boys began to work on the bed, put
down the mattress, poked the required connection parts out of a drawer
full of ping pong stuff and finally lifted the bedstead up to its original
In high spirits Sniv climbed up the bare bed and tried the view from there.
Ill sleep up there, Jason complained, like always!
He bent down to get the mattress. Come on, help me!
After some strenuous making of beds their place to sleep was complete
including Jasons bed things. (But not his old teddy bear, he suddenly
felt too old to take it with him.) Only the short ladder that originally
belonged to the bunk beds had been misused by the boys years ago and might
be stuffed somewhere in the cellar now. Jason had never used it to get
up to his bed. With a few experienced moves he clambered up to his stage.
Light out! he called and slipped under his blanket.
One last time, Sniv stuck his head out of the bed, looked around and reached
for the switch of his bedside light. The following darkness in his bed
room felt completely different than usual. Although the two boys were
absolutely silent and they even stopped breathing, the blackness before
their eyes seemed to be moving, to be filled with colors - in contrast
to the dead silence that was there when they were alone in their beds.
The brothers remained like that without moving.
It was Sniv who had to laugh first. First half muted then snorting he
laughed breaking the silence.
Now sleep, stupid, said Jason and his voice was meant to sound
admonishing but it got infected by Snivs giggling.
But I cant now. Im not tired at all. Building
the bunk beds had made Sniv wide awake and besides that he already had
had a short sleep.
Jason heard how his little brother was kicking the blanket back making
the whole bed shake and how his breathing was restless. Jason rolled on
his stomach and rested his ear on his pillow, listening. He felt like
he could hear Snivs heartbeat, transmitted by the bedstead and the
mattress, just like he registered even the slightest movement of his brother
through a faint swinging of the beds. It filled him with a warm feeling
of intimacy and memories and he was amazed to realize that he had missed
it. He sighed deeply and moistly on his pillow and then heard himself
asking: How about telling stories, like we did before?
For a moment Sniv remained silent and then he chuckled - slightly triumphant,
it appeared to Jason. "Okay, youll start, said Sniv and
snuggled up deeper into his bed.
In those times when they had shared the same bedroom the boys had pictured
a lot how theyd go through adventures if they were like the heroes
from their favorite programs on TV. Jason would have a supercar that not
only could fly and win all the races but even could swim under the sea
to look for wrecked pirate ships. Sniv liked to tell how he was like a
ghost flying everywhere, even through walls, playing a lot of twisted
pranks on people and of course how hed make one slam dunk after
another at basketball. Often without knowing, their stories turned into
a dream during a stage of light slumber.
Jason began: What would you do if you had three wishes?
Hah, Id wish to have countless more wishes!
Nope, that wouldnt work. And you cant wish that you
could do magic or other stuff. You can only wish whats there in
Uh, but thats boring! Then eternal life wouldnt count
No, but why is that boring? You just have to think about it carefully.
Okay... Sniv thought it over and one could slighty hear him
breathing through his nose. Aw boy, thats stupid! If I wished
that I was really, really rich I could buy everything on earth and wouldnt
have to wish it.
Jason groaned. Alright then, what would you wish thats not
really there? Except more wishes and magic stuff.
Hm, I wish I was a superhero and I could fly even through space
to explore other planets.
Cool! And meeting extraterrestrials.
Yeeeaaah, people from distant worlds, just not such evil aliens,
only those you can talk to.
Ferengi and Vulcanians! Jason mispronounced.
Yup, but no Klingons, those are stupid.
For a while the brothers were quiet and imagined meeting friendly aliens.
Then Sniv said: Now you! What would you wish?
Jason hesitated with his answer then he almost whispered: Id
wish that time stood still. I mean, not really everything standing still,
but that we dont grow older and wed always have vacations.
Huh? Sniv was confused. Vacations are okay, but why
not grow older?
Its so good how it is now, I wish it could last forever. I
dont want to become like all grown ups, I dont want to have
a job. And I dont want for you and all our friends to grow up.
Sniv didnt like the idea of being a little brother always and forever.
But... imagine, you could never drive a car then! And you would
never have as much money as an adult.
I know... but Id also wish to have a secret supercar and nobody
knew that I got it. Like nobody knows who superman is. Then why would
I need money?
But if you wish that all of us dont grow older, that would
be me too.
Jason turned to lie on his side. Do you really want to grow up?
To go to school until youre done? With all those tests? And everything
just to work even harder and never ever have real summer vacations.
Sniv chuckled. Nope, Id become a superhero and wouldnt
have to work anyway.
Hey, now for real! Do you want to grow up?
For a moment the younger boy was at a loss to answer. Dont
I think you like it when we share one bedroom? I mean, I love having
my own room but at night its more fun to be together, dont
you think so?
But if we were grown ups we wouldnt even think about it.
Jason listened in the darkness. Somehow his little brother didnt
respond anymore, there was no movement in the bed below. Are you
A moment of breathless silence, then giggling. Nope.
Jason realized that his brother didnt seem to like that subject.
He sat up in his bed and then bowed down across the edge so that he could
make out the outline of Snivs curly head lying on his pillow. His
blood pounded in his head and made it hard to breathe. Do you know
what grown ups never do either?
Sniv rolled up squeaking. The sound of Jasons voice announced that
he was about to do some mischief. With something like a downward roll
he swung into Snivs bed stage like he used to do before. Sniv sat
up and made some room willingly. He quite appreciated when his brother
came down to visit him just like in older times which usually led to a
little scrap or a pillow-fight. But at first Jason kept sitting quietly
on the blanket and seemed to wait.
What do you want? asked Vincent playing the little innocent.
Jason enjoyed the moment. His brother knew very well what this game was
about and he joined in like only kids can join a game. Without a warning
Jason leaped on Snivs thin figure and began to pinch playfully every
part of that shrieking and squeaking boy that he could reach with his
fingers. When he even reached the cheeks of Snivs rear his little
brother choked. Undecided, Sniv had to cough and to laugh at the same
time. Jason decided he'd better let up on him so that he could calm down.
Slowly, Sniv recovered his breath. Pinching butts is not fair!
he yapped and had to laugh about his own complaint.
Well, go snitching! Why not call the police and tell them,
he imitated a wailing child, holding his hand like a telephone to his
ear, pinching butts no faaaaiiiiir! He burst into laughter
over this image but didnt forget about his target. Now he only aimed
at Snivs little butt ignoring the desperate attempts of two small
hands to defend it.
Help me, help
meeee, Im getting my butt pinched, Sniv shouted in a high,
husky voice and had to laugh again. Finally he was so short of breath
that he had to give up every defense and Jason could give his butt twinges
unimpeded. Along with Snivs fading sounds of pain the strength of
his big brothers efforts let up until he finally stopped.
I bet your rear is now so heated up that it should glow in the dark,
said Jason. It was really hot in the narrow bed through their fighting.
The heart-pounding body heat of the two boys got mixed up like in a steam
Sniv mustered up all his power. Jason knew well that his brother now was
about to take revenge, because this was part of the game.
And Jason played the game by suffering the revenge almost
without defense. Sniv hauled himself across his brothers shoulder
so that he could embrace his chest from behind and pushed him down onto
the bed. Then he moved further down on Jasons back to keep him locked
under his weight. His cheek reached the area of bare warm skin that Jasons
old shrunk pyjamas always left uncovered between shirt and pants. In the
darkness he was barely able to make out where the waistband described
the beginning of the two half globes of Jasons backside cheeks and
the little notch between them. While the rest of Jason usually smelled
like soap this notch was the origin of a remarkable, not at all unpleasent
scent, a really unique Jason-scent. Instinctively Sniv began to blow into
this tri-angular hole between waistband and backside cheeks. Jason answered
this with a short jerking and some giggling, muted by the blanket.
What are you doing there? he mumbled indistinctly.
Sniv chuckled lustfully. Checking if you clean your butt carefully.
'Cause it smells already!
Not true! Whats smelling there is your beaten butt.
With the flat of his hand Sniv slapped those two cheeks of meat until
they were shaking in their pyjama pants. And now youre gonna
get a thoroughly slapped butt, he said and began to play drums on
Jasons backside with both hands. His big brother put up with that
for a while but then rolled on his side so that Sniv slipped down from
his back. Now his small brother was afraid that Jason could strike back
and he jumped out the bed, crying breathlessly: Dont hurt
me! Dont hurt me!
Jason got out of the bed too and the next moment he heard a bang and painful
whimper. Sniv had bumped on a piece of furniture in the dark. Then came
a tearful sobbing. This stu-pid desk!
Whats up? asked Jason who could only see some shadows
but not his brother.
Walking with a stoop Vincents slender form came out of the shadows.
My foot! This hurts so... damned! If his mother had been around
he would have cried heart-rendingly, but since he knew that he couldnt
expect to be comforted by his brother, he just swallowed.
Is it broken? Jason expected the worst.
Nooo, I just bumped on my desk, but it hurts like hell!
Jason said: Better come back here and get in your bed. He
sat down on the edge of the bed and waited to see what that curly-headed
shadow would do. Sniv limped forward and sat down beside Jason. Whimpering
he held his foot. Jason felt that Sniv would like to cry out loud but
he just didnt do it because there was only his big brother around.
Usually Jason did the same when he was hurt, but now he wondered why he
wouldnt cry when it would make him feel better. Surprised by the
sound of his own voice he asked compassionately: You want me to
His brother sniffed. How do you wanna do that?
Jason couldnt believe that he had really said that. But tonight
he had such a weird feeling that he was able to comfort his little brother
like their mother usually did. A bit hoarsely he said: Take you
in my arms.
For a while there was unbelieving silence. Sniv wasnt sure why his
brother suddenly wanted to play mother and child with him,
he just couldnt imagine that Jason was serious. But while he was
wondering he felt his brothers arms carefully embracing his chest.
Sniv remained quiet, surprised by the sudden gentleness shown by his big
brother. Somehow his hurting foot didnt matter anymore. He rubbed
it a bit and held it in his hands to keep it warm.
whispered: If we lay down I could hold you even closer. And
with a slight pressure he pulled his brother back to stretch out on the
bed. Sniv was confused that Jason showed so much affection, but in a strange,
exciting way he liked it. Jasons leg came from behind to embrace
Snivs thighs, and his arms tightened around his little brothers
narrow chest. Sniv sighed deeply.
The boys lay quietly together and enjoyed their closeness. With open eyes
Jason inhaled every impression of the situation. There was this small
breast slightly heaving and lowering in his hands and he could even feel
the little heart beating inside. These shoulders and shoulder-blades and
this back that leaned into him warming his chest. These short brown curls
right before the tip of his nose with a last thin smell of bubble bath.
These quiet breath-strokes that belonged to Snivs button nose.
Are you better? Jason asked carefully. But he got no answer.
He was quite sure that Sniv was already asleep. Jason closed his eyes
and thought back to moments when he was jealous of Sniv and his little
brother seemed unbearable to him. When he had managed once again to blame
everything on his big brother and never got punished but always got comforted
instead. More than once Jason had wished that their father would come
back and gave Sniv a good spanking. And sometimes he even thought about
living with his dad to get rid of that little brat, although he knew that
his father had a girlfriend that he couldnt stand and would never
allow Jason to live with them. Tonight Jason felt sorry that he ever wished
to live somewhere without his brother.
Silently, he repeated the first of his three wishes, that time stood still
and theyd never grow up. Maybe it could come true, who could know?
Jason stroked with his nose through the curly hair down to the smooth,
warm skin of Vincents neck and gave this skin a moist, gentle kiss.
Sniv moved slightly in his sleep, making some smacking noises with his
lips and tongue then continuing to breathe deeply and slowly again.
Without waking his brother Jason slipped out of the lower bed and climbed
up to his stage avoiding any shaking or any noise. Like he always did
(With special thanks
to Jason and Jonathan.)