My Brother Buddy by Verna Wilder

The day two nuns in a station wagon ran over my brother Buddy, I had been rollerblading along East Cliff Drive wondering why I never fell in love with appropriate women. I fell in love with fun women, mind you, interesting and even exciting women, but not with women who could make a commitment for more than about five minutes, and I was well into version 176 of this thought, which ought to give you a clue how much I thought about this and to what incredibly stupid depths, and I remember rolling over to the fence along the cliff and just hanging there when the ambulance passed, having no idea my brother Buddy was in there, with a broken leg and such a scrape on his forehead and along his cheek that you can still see the bloodstains in the handicap parking space outside Lucky’s Supermarket, and I guess in a way he was lucky, since the nuns didn’t see him at all and the only thing that saved him from being completely run over was the bag boy who bumped a full grocery cart into the side of the driver’s door of the station wagon to get the driving nun’s attention, and so Buddy was only run over a little bit, even though he still tells the story to anyone who’ll listen about how he was almost killed, only he leaves out the part about how he was bent down tying his shoe right there in the parking lot like there wouldn’t be cars backing out for god’s sake, and my  mother says she still gets palpitations when she remembers that cool-as-a-watermelon voice on the phone asking her if she had a son named Richard, which he hates, and which is why we’ve always called him Buddy, like that’s not a better name for a dog than a boy.

So anyway, I was rollerblading along East Cliff Drive scolding myself when Buddy was being run over, but after I found out about Buddy, it didn’t seem to matter so much about the way I choose women, so I think about that day and how clear the sky was and how my feet seemed to find the smoothest part of the pavement so that I hardly had to think about where I was going or what I was doing, and I remember skating around this big blond guy in a wet suit and how it was like a dance the way he stepped to one side and I did a step-over on my blades and the sun glinted off the front door of the Pleasure Point Quick Stop so that the day, except for Buddy getting run over, was perfect.

Comments · 6

  1. Wild and so alive Verna. “I was well into version 176 of this thought” — love that line.
    And even more, I feel the paradoxes of emotion as these scenes pull in reality, real pain, and all in the same instance our human desires, reflections and fantasies. It’s so real. Thank you for this one!

  2. Funny, witty, entertaining, and well written.
    This piece delights the reader. I think the author
    should write a full-length novel, if she hasn’t
    already. And if she has, she needs to write
    another one.
    I’d like to see more!

  3. This was like eating a few potato chips, very good, but I have to have more.
    I want the whole damn bag. Good stuff, Verna.

  4. This story is on my favorite top ten hit list of all time! I read it and marveled at how you did all this in two sentences!? How did you create the rhythm of skating within the piece itself? It is brilliant! Every word seems so right, so perfectly placed. Some stories are just magic and this is one of them! Thank you.

  5. wow, you’ve got this voice spot-on. I really have a strong sense of the character. We’ve all known people who talk this way, with a narrative that wanders amazingly, but oddly from tangent to tangent, the way a dog behaves when you take him on a walk—sniff here, now there, chase a bird, run back to you, go mark a tree, etc, seemingly haphazardly, but always on the way to some actual destination. The listener is just never quite sure what that that destination is, which makes it so engaging, and so much fun to hang on for the ride.
    I absolutely love “so Buddy was only run over a little bit”

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