The members around the table react. Brad attempts to stand and is steadied by Dean and Bonnie. Clyde’s smile is tight and his eyes gleam with malice. He’s waiting for a fight to break out.
“What?” Brad shouts from across the table, at Adam. “You what?”
Adam leans back in his chair, defensive to Brad’s questioning.
“He leapt,” he says to Brad, the emphasis on his voice conveying some certain meaning the house picked up and murmured at.
“Clyde caught him,” Adam goes on, and Clyde nods his swinging hair. “I felt I didn’t have a choice. Nor would have taken one, had it been presented.”
Brad’s face reddens and his sputtering becomes loud. Dean says soft things to him, and Bonnie disconnects. Her arms are crossed and she watches Adam continue.
“That has...certain...troubling...implica…” Adam trails off, and settles into tears. His sobs are angry, and clutched in his fisted hands. He’s removed his tie for the day, but his shirt is unbuttoned and askew at the neck.
Brad’s breath is the loudest thing in the room, and audible beneath it are repetitions of the word “fuck.” Down the table, Clyde tosses a skittle into his mouth and chews it, ignoring everyone. Dean talks Brad back to his senses, and his breathing slows.
“If he’d known to do it,” Adam continues, his voice ragged tears into the fabric of the room. “But...he didn’t know. He couldn’t know. I didn’t...know…”
He mutters to himself until he slams his fist on the table, and everyone jumps but Grady, and Clyde.
“Jumped like the dragons do?” Grady asks, and Adam nods.
Brad’s own tears start in his throat and catch his voice strangled on its way out.
“Not that piece of shit,” he begs Adam, and Adam looks down, his reply disdainful.
“Yes, Brad, because we’re all so much better and well-behaved.”
Brad wipes tears from his eyes.
“You can’t just call him my brother!” he shouts, vehement.
“You fucking hypocrite,” Adam spits back, and Brad rises, Dean holding him back. Adam counters, two inches shorter and three years older, by standing up so fast his chair upsets, and Clyde lifts himself lazily up, a Skittle in his fingers, to stand between them as if he were waiting for a bus. Brad and Adam yell around him.
“You don’t know!”
“After all this time, Brad, what could it possibly matter?”
“I don’t want him around my family!”
Clyde squashes the red Skittle in his hand between two fingers, considering it carefully, and speaks quietly, in a silent patch of their screaming.
“He is your family.”
His point silences Brad back to the solace of only his tears, and he retreats to his seat.
“Blood stains don’t wash out,” Clyde whispers to Brad, who screams back, “I KNOW.”
Clyde, undaunted, smiles his same malicious smile and continues to whisper. We all pause to listen.
“You got a little Tide? A little cllllllorox? Starch your collar, Brad? What do you know about that? You can tell me. It’s still there. You can trrrrrrace it with your fingerssss.”
Brad’s sobbing drowns him out, but Adam’s insistence peaks in his pushing desire to explain.
“I thought...maybe with what he’d gone through, I could slow things down. We could heal what never had the chance to heal. I was thinking of you.”
Nick peers long at Adam through a halo of smoke and breaks his silence with the bare truth beneath his brother’s excuses.
“You’re full of shit, love,” he says to Adam. “You must be honest with us if not yourself.”
“What the fuck does that mean?” Adam asks his twin.
“Oh, darling, isn’t this your dream come true?” he asks Adam, and Adam retorts, his voice rapid and flat.
“Eat shit, you fucking miserable motherless cunt, it isn’t like that.”
Brad chimes in, lighting a cigarette and gesturing with it elegantly.
“No, that’s true. This is all about how Adam doesn’t have enough friends.”