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EPILOGUE / David Boroflea WHAT AM I TO SAY about two brothers whose wives have argued, who are thus forced by their immediate loyalties not to speak to one another? Or the surgeon in love with the deftness of his hands, the choreography of his fingers, and who has been forced by Ulness to set his scalpel aside? Or the woman who refuses to act on her own desires because she is attracted to a married man, one who represents moral integrity and uprightness of heart? What can I do but repeat the usual cuches: that Ufe is indeed a garden of pain, that men and women are born for trouble and heartache. That the world which seems to Ue before us Uke a land so various, so beautiful, so new, etc., etc., is in reaUty a smoking landfiU? Let us say instead, that one hot June morning, the dew at fivethirty already burned away, Len Farrington returns from his daily run sweaty and happy, Uluminated by the sunrise and pleased by his own virtue, to find his brother with whom he has not spoken in a year-and-a-half, sitting on the bench to his front porch. "Frog," his brother says, using a nickname he hasn't heard since his chüdhood. "How you can sweat Uke that, I'll never know." His older brother Max, pudgy and uncomfortably Episcopalian in his short-sleeved black shirt and white coUar, is the very image and picture of grief. His forehead is creased by anxiety, his eyes are clouded. Ever since he and Max stopped talking out of deference to Sylvia and Patrice, he has intuitively known that Max's Ufe is nothing he would trade for. He knows that Max and Sylvia are miserable, their Uves circumscribed by her cycle of anti-depressants and sleeping pUls. He knows that Max harbors resentment toward his parishioners for their savage and selfish complaints, their duU needs, springing from loneliness and dread. He once envied Max his sense of caUing; he does so no longer. "Sweat's a blessing," he says now, using his brother's jargon. He chooses to ignore the recent history that hangs between them. Instead he focuses on the bright front of his white house, the gleam of newly painted black shutters. "After a run, I've drained aU the poisons out of my soul. No offense." His brother visibly winces at the word "soul," as if he doesn't possess the qualifications for its utterance. Fuck him, Len thinks. The Missouri Review · 132 Fuck him and his black shirts of depression, his white coUar of propriety. Anger radiates through his whole body Uke heat. He cannot know that Max only winces whenever the language of his trade reminds him of his own shortcomings. He cannot know that even now Max is thinking that Leonard Farrington, independent insurance agent representing all Unes of Ufe, homeowner and auto, the Frog Man of their childhood now thirty years in the past, so named for his refusal to touch their slimy green bodies and his general refusal to dirty himself, would have made the better priest. "Maybe I shouldn't be here," Max says, looking to the pale, flat sky, his round face gone gray in dawn's twUight. "But I need to teU someone." "TeU who what?" It is here that Max buries his head, with its few pale threads of sandy-colored hair, into his hands, groaning from a weU of despair. "Tm in love." This last syUable of misery still hangs in the rising heat of the morning when Patrice steps outside onto the porch for the morning paper. "Love," she sniffs, her eyes still smudged by last night's mascara, "the most highly overrated thing on God's green earth." She puUs her flowered housecoat more tightly around herself, picks up the paper, and snaps free the rubber band with a whack that echoes along the quiet street Uke pistol fire. She steps inside the house again, leaving in her wake nothing, not a word, not a greeting, not a single acknowledgment of her brother-in-law. "Maybe I shouldn't be here," Max says again. "It was...


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