The Degenerates

Denny folded. He hadn’t won a single hand all night and now he was broke.

“Another game?” Randal asked.

“I’m done,” Denny said. “Broke.”

He waited for somebody to front him a twenty, but nobody did.

“Damn the luck,” Denny told the sharks.

All night Denny had been blaming his bad luck on the fight he had with Danny. The fight had weighed on his mind all night, throwing Denny off his card game.

Denny got up to leave. Randal asked if they’d see him tomorrow night. Denny declined. He said tomorrow was the Hot Seat drawing at the casino. He said if he went, he had the chance to win some free slot play up to a thousand bucks for Owners Club members. He said he needed to get there by 6 to get registered before the first drawing.

Denny walked home. He opened the door. He could smell Danny, who was watching poker on TV.

“Why do you watch this?” Denny asked. “You don’t even play cards.”

“Why not?” Danny asked.

“You’re drunk,” Denny said. “I can smell you all the way over here.”

So?” Danny said.

“And I bet you’re broke. Always drunk and always broke.”

“Aren’t you broke too?” Danny asked. “You wouldn’t be home so early if you weren’t broke.”

Denny stood there smelling his brother and staring at the TV.

Danny added, “Mama taught us not to lie.”

“Yeah,” Denny said. “We’re both broke. So I guess that makes us even.”

“I know you better than you know yourself,” drunk Danny said.

“Don’t think I don’t know you wouldn’t be here if you had any money either. If you had a quarter you’d still be still be down at the bar trying to squeeze out another drink.”

It was true. Danny left the bar early because he’d run out of money. When he got up to leave, he hoped somebody might spot him a drink. But nobody did.

“You even got a buck so I can get me a tall boy?” Danny asked.

“You know I don’t.”

Danny mocked is brother with a short laugh.

“So much for being Doc Holliday,” he said.

“You’re a lousy, begging, degenerate drunk,” Denny said. “Always drunk. Always broke. Always begging.”

“And you’re a degenerate gambler,” Danny said. “Always a loser and always broke.”

Denny said to his brother, “I hate you.”

“Good,” Danny said. “Because I hate you too.”

“You’re a degenerate, good-for-nothing drunk,” Denny screamed.

Danny turned off the TV to address his brother.

“If you’d support me more, maybe I wouldn’t be,” Danny said. “Sobriety’s hard. And you never got any money to help me get into a decent clinic. You never got the money because you’re a degenerate gambling loser.”

“Shut the fuck up,” Denny said. “I’m going to sleep.”

Each went to his room. Each rested in his bed realizing just how much he truly hated his brother. And each realizing just how much he loved his brother for needing him so much.

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