Saturday, January 01, 2005

A Brother's Gift

"A Brother's Gift" by Michael Wiecek, Hardluck Stories, Fall 2004

Man, it seems like everything I'm reviewing lately has something to do with families. That's OK. Families provide almost unlimited opportunities for murder and mayhem. The stories I like most among those I've written have had to do fathers and daughters, mothers and sons.

In Mr. Wiecek's story it's brother and brother. Mr. Wiecek doesn't say whether they were twins, I got the impression they were not even though they could be mistaken for each other. Familial resemblances can be like that.

Angie makes his living, apparently a pretty good one, on the wrong side of the law. Joe is straight and poor. The brother's aren't very close, yet, out of the blue, Angie, who is currently undergoing trial for a murder rap, has his wife send Joe a fruit cake for Christmas. Personally, anyone sends me a fruitcake, I figure that person is out to get me, but not Joe.

Angie wants Joe to do a little favor for him. The favor is not a particularly big deal for brothers. How the favor turns out makes the story.

This isn't a long story, but Mr. Wiecek does a good job of making Joe a sympathetic character in very few words. And the ending will certainly get your attention.

In short, a Christmas story of brotherly love, of a different kind.