ord knows what he’s doing.
Phone rang, police calling, saying they got his brother in jail, and his other brother too, and his mama nowhere to be found, Dwayne knew he had to get down there. No matter he was already asleep. That phone call was like the Lord himself calling.
Dwayne knew all the cops. Had to. Half of them, the half that wasn’t Catholic or heathen, came to the Divine Light. Chief too.
“What’s he done?” Dwayne said to the chief, dressed not in uniform but in a green shirt with an alligator on the chest.
“Now, we’re not saying he’s done nothing,” the chief said. “Seems he was just there, maybe, getting a pizza. But he was the one found the body.”
Dwayne felt himself go cold. DaShawn had done some bad things in his time — lots of bad things, all bad things, starting with lying beside his twin in the crib hitting him so hard with the plastic rattle that Dwayne came up with a black eye — but murder was something else.
Dwayne leaned in toward the chief. “Are you saying you think DaShawn might have killed someone?”
“Not DaShawn. DaShawn I seed myself behind the bar, whole time it was going on. I’m talking about your other brother, Darrell.”
At this Dwayne felt his knees buckle. He’d promised his mother he would look out for Darrell, the way a father would. But the boy eluded him, slipped out of Youth Group, would not even come to church on Sundays.
Now, though, the Lord had put the boy in Dwayne’s hands.
“Can I see him?” Dwayne whispered.
The chief brought him back into the station, down a hallway and into a small room where Darrell sat, dried tears streaking his cheeks.
“What have you done?” Dwayne said.
“Nothing. I swear.”
Dwayne listened to a lot of sinners, heard a lot of confessions. And there was something confusing in his little brother’s voice, something that said he was telling the truth, and then again something that said he was lying.
Dwayne turned to the chief. “What happens now?”
“We’ve questioned him and we don’t have any reason to hold him. We can let him go on your recognizance, long as he promises to be available if we have more questions and not to leave town.”
“All right then,” Dwayne said, putting out his hand. “Thank you, sir.”
Dwayne didn’t look back as he followed the chief out to the front of the station, though he could hear Darrell’s footsteps behind him. Out in the lobby, DaShawn was signing some papers.
“What trouble did you get him in now?” Dwayne said, looming over his twin. Thank the Lord they didn’t look alike and that Dwayne was bigger, 6′2″ and 230 to DaShawn’s scrawny self. Starting in sixth grade, Dwayne lifted weights every day, built up his shoulders and his arms to make sure DaShawn could never push him around again.
“Get your sanctimonious bullshit out of my fucking face,” DaShawn hissed. “I was just making sure the kid had dinner. Where you been, you upright motherfucker?”
“I don’t need to listen to this kind of language,” Dwayne said. “Come on, Darrell.” He took the boy’s arm, skinnier than he expected, younger-feeling. “You’re coming home with me.”
“But what about Ma?” Darrell asked, holding back.
“We’re releasing you to your brother,” the chief said. “Do you have any idea where your mother might be? Some bar where she might hang out? A boyfriend?”
“Ma ain’t at a bar,” Darrell mumbled. “She’s studying.”
“Studying?” the chief smirked. “What’s she studying?”
“It’s all right, Chief. I’ll talk to my mother later. Come on, Darrell. Let’s go.”
The boy tried to talk in the car, but Dwayne wasn’t listening. He’d committed the sin of pride, put himself above his family, held himself aloof, and now looked what happened. He’d lost one brother to the devil already; he couldn’t lose another one. From now on, he would hold himself responsible for Darrell, take his position as the man of the family and the right hand of the Lord, get to the bottom of what went on and make sure it never happened again.
He eased the car into the garage built under the house and led Darrell into the finished basement. Two floors above, his wife and children slept. No one could hear anything that happened down here.
“You have sin in your heart,” Dwayne said. “But that’s going to change. Through discipline and hard work, I will set you on the righteous path. Now come here.”
“Come here. You will do as I say.”
Darrell stepped closer. With one swift move, Dwayne pinned him under his arm, and spanked.