- Vol. 02
- Chapter 02
Hungry Like The Wolf
Cass is my brother, even if nobody believes it.
Cass is big, blonde, and good-looking. Girls turn to stare everywhere he goes. Guys, too, sometimes, which isn't Cass's thing, but he doesn't make a big jerky deal when they do.
Me, I'm mousy brown and scrawny. I could set myself on fire without anybody noticing.
But when Cass comes to pick me up at school, Eileen Branagan says, "That is your brother?" Eileen has about seventeen brothers and as many sisters. Everyone of them looks exactly like Eileen.
I say yes, even though I know people like Eileen might not exactly count me and Cass as for-real brother and sister, since all we have in common is our mom, which is why he (hot) looks so different from me (not). Cass never even knew his dad, and I barely remember mine. "Better that way," Cass says, whenever I bring it up, which I've stopped doing. He was bad to me and worse to mom, is all Cass will tell me about my dad, and something about the way he says it makes me think he might have been worst of all to Cass.
We don't need dads, is the way Cass figures it. Wolves don't have dads, they just have one leader who takes care of the whole pack. Cass knows everything about wolves. He reads every wolf book there is, which might surprise you because Cass is not the school and library type. His whole room is full of wolf posters, the best of which, lone wolf in the mountains, is also painted on the back of his denim j. Cass is not a lone wolf. He is the leader of our pack, and that's why he is getting a tattoo of three wolves. He is getting it on our magic birthday, the day he turns 21 and I turn 12, mirror-image ages, because even though we have different dads we are born the same day exactly nine years apart.
Hungry Like The WolfHe's also getting me a special surprise. I don't know what it is, although I have guessed and guessed without coming close. It makes me excited but also nervous because what can I give Cass that is anywhere as good as what he is getting me or getting himself? Especially when I have to spoil our whole actual birthday because there's a stupid school concert I have to be in that night, playing the recorder with the rest of my grade.
We have to stay late for extra rehearsal the day of the concert, so instead of Cass it's mom who comes to pick me up. She sings "Happy Birthday" over and over as we walk home, and makes me wave my recorder around like I'm leading a big parade, and tells me she's made my favorite, lasagna, for dinner. But when we turn onto our street, it's blocked off, sirens everywhere. My heart stops and mom's must, too, because she grabs my free hand and we tear off past the barricade, through the crowd, up to where the police have taped off the '78 T-bird Cass was fixing up.
Mom is gasping for air, and some police officer is trying to take her aside, and all I can see is blood and broken glass. And I realize the recorder is still in my hands, and I start smashing it, too, into the delivery van, and the T-bird, and the police officer, trying to get the sound of sirens out of my head.