Ashes by Steven Manchester

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He’s fat as a wood tick now, he thought, grinning, and he looks like he’s ready to pop. Jason looked straight at him, as if reading his mind. Tom immediately looked away, his rapid heartbeat starting to pound in his ears, intensifying his physical pain. Unbelievable, he thought. After all the years and all the distance, his elder brother- by only two years- still scared the hell out of him.”

Some stories are about siblings as thick as thieves, but not all siblings live in the world of picket fence sitcoms. Jason and Tom Prendergast are still recovering from a childhood with their abusive father and have spent the past years avoiding each-other. One is a prison guard, one an intellectual (a college professor) and both can reduce each other to a childlike state in seconds. What is it about families that as far as you go in life, as successful as you become once you see them the old you returns with a vengeance. It’s far worse with brothers and sisters, particularly ones you have a difficult relationship with. Tom and Jason become sniveling boys again on their cross country road trip to find out what good old dad has left them in the sealed envelope. How dare their father make a last demand upon his sons, forcing the estranged brothers to come together again? Each pick at each other, they may be middle aged but maturity is out the car window with these two.

Rotten memories of their now deceased father crawl into their head-space, and both have problems within their own families, love lives that are along for the journey. As the ‘boys’ travel, their mutual disgust for one another changes and there may just be a chance to move beyond past betrayals and a monster of a father into a semblance of brotherhood. I laughed at the biting insults the brothers give and take, it’s raw and genuine, somehow their age made it that much more realistic. Both Tom and Jason will learn as much about themselves and their place in their lives as they do about each other. There is change on the horizon and sometimes the distance between two brothers can be the father.

Publication Date: February 21, 2017

The Story Plant

 

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