The first thing Brendon does when he gets out is he grows a beard. Well, not really the very first thing. The very first thing he does is call his Dad, because he’s still his Dad’s son, regardless of how estranged they are. He calls his Dad an asshole, and hangs up. This makes him feel better. Later, he calls his brother Mike and they go out to eat, and Mike tells Brendon how proud of him he is and all that shit, and Brendon nods along but he doesn’t really feel that proud of himself inside. They go back to Mike’s place in Dover proper, and that’s when after a long round of beers and watching baseball on ESPN that Brendon decides to grow a beard.

“I hated shaving,” Brendon tells Mike.

The next day, Brendon gets on a plane at BWI and heads home, or rather, the place he can stay until he works out where to stay. His other brother Luke meets him at Logan, and they take the Silver Line and then the Green Line back to his place on Newbury Street. Along the way, Brendon has to tell himself not to stare at people. Luke asks him what’s wrong and Brendon tells him that people are no different no matter where they are. Luke doesn’t quite know what he means.

They get upstairs, since Luke’s place is above a Banana Republic store, and Luke takes the couch and Brendon sleeps in Luke’s bed, the first good sleep he’s had since it all happened.

The next morning, Luke is already up by the time Brendon pulls himself out of bed. He’s got the TV on.

Luke points at the screen and says, “Bren, is that you?”

Brendon looks and says, “Yeah, that’s us.”

He sees himself on the screen for a moment and wonders what happened to the others that survived. They weren’t told anything. Just told they got out early, and no arguments, and they couldn’t say anything about what happened. Not in detail, anyway. It was all over the news, the brave heroes, guys that saved the world or some shit (and when they say the world they really mean the USA because really everything else is just peripheral to America). Brendon looks at himself again and feels like shit.

“Turn it off,” he tells Luke.

Luke blanks the TV and says, “What happened to you guys out there?”

So Brendon tells him the whole story. The whole goddamn sorry tale.

The End

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