Another thing I remember from my youth is one of the many, many, many dumb things my older brother did. I never thought much about his intelligence until later on in life when these stories were thought about in depth.
    I, on the other hand, always considered myself quite bright. Full of confidence at an early age and always willing to help anyone who needs it. That comes from my interest in the family farm and all things farming. Right from a toddler, I played with tractors, animals, tools etc., always pretending to fix or build something. As I got older, this turned into spending a lot of time with my grandpa and dad building and fixing things. As my neighbour a mile up the road can tell you, I knew where all the tools and equipment were and, for the most part, knew how to use them. Yup, I was the smart one, that's for sure.
My brother was always interested in music, art, and fancy things. Never wanting to get his hands dirty or never wanting to do any real work. Worried about his hair and pimples, endlessly flexing his ridiculous body in the full-length mirror at the end of our bedroom hall, He always seemed a bit dense. It would take him forever to do the simplest tasks, and I could never figure out why. Mom used to say he was just interested in different things, and he would be brilliant in those things, although to me, there was nothing else but the farm and farm stuff, so I didn't get it.
    As we got older, my dad saw that I was full of responsibility and was on my way to becoming a capable young man. However, when that thing happened with our neighbour a mile up the road, my older brother showed no potential for being able to fend for himself. Just another blithering idiot. I remember the fight like it was yesterday. Boy, was my dad mad! I couldn't hear everything from my bedroom, but dad was saying things about being a drooling baby and keeping something in his pants. I remember thinking about how keeping anything in your pockets could make any difference at this time, but I wasn't about to ask.
 Dad decided it was time for my brother to grow up and learn a few things about the farm. Dad wasn't someone who you would argue with. If he said it once, you had better have been listening, or else you would hear it in a way you would never forget. So when dad told my brother that he would be put in charge of the chicken coop, my brother reluctantly agreed. They went outside, and Dad showed my brother everything there was to know about caring for the chickens. How to feed. When to feed. When to close and open the coop doors. When and how to clean the manure and how to collect the eggs. To me, this was all old news. I had been doing this stuff for years. It took weeks of dad and I helping my brother do things for the chickens. We didn't know if he would ever get the hang of it and do his job. We would always find him sitting on the sunny side of the barn, staring off and daydreaming about the dumb things that he would dream about. 
    Then it happened. My idiot brother finally did something right. Like every day for the last several months, I would check on the chicken coop to ensure that my brother did what he was supposed to, and I fully expected to soon find myself finishing the chicken chores. I was so surprised to find everything was done and done right. My brother was nowhere in sight, so I went to look for him to tell him he had done an excellent job. I found him on the sunny side of the barn, right where I expected to see him; however, this time, he was not alone. 
    He had become attached to one of the chickens. It was quietly sitting in his lap, enjoying the sun and the gentle scratching on the back of the neck that my brother was giving it. I rounded the corner, making my presence known with a loud 
This startled my brother out of his stupid little daydream. He started to tell me some crap about the peaceful melody that the wind made through the corn, blah blah blah … whatever. I interrupted him mid-sentence 
"who's your friend?"
 I asked, hoping for an answer I could use to crush him. Turns out he was serious. He liked this chicken and wanted to make a better home for it, so he did all the chicken chores and vowed to do his best. At that moment, I realized he wasn't as dumb as I thought, just lazier than I knew possible. Wow, revelations come at the weirdest times.  However, the following words out of his mouth made me doubt my new revelation. He asked if he could borrow a file. 
"What for." I questioned. Not that I cared what he wanted it for, and I just wanted to know what boneheaded thing he thought he needed a file for. Showing me the top of the chicken's head, he pointed out a lump of what looked like dead, dry skin. 
"I want to file this off, so she feels better." 
I could barely contain my laughter, but I did, and I held a straight face.
"I think that will kill it, don't you?" 
"Not if I am super careful and file very gently."
I immediately got up off the grass where we were sitting, and without even cracking a smirk, I announced that I would be right back. The laughter made it hard for me to make my way to the tool room in the barn, my sides were hurting so badly I could barely walk, and tears in my eyes made it hard to see where I was going. I knew I had to get it all out before returning to the sunny side of the barn with a file in hand and no smirk on my face.
I didn't see my brother for the rest of the day and, to be honest, didn't think much about the file and the chicken as I was busy building my new treehouse, complete with rope and bridge across our creek. It came rushing back in the morning when I went out to do the chores and saw my brother sitting beside a dead chicken in the chicken coop. I was not about to miss this opportunity to rub this in and show him how smart I am and how dumb he is. I hollered across the driveway as I approached.
"Told ya that would kill it."
For the first time in my life, I saw a bit of human emotion in this bag full of hammers. Turning his face up to me with a tear in his eye, he stammered out something that reflected the very essence of his being.

"Wasn't the filing that killed her."

Keep Going   

 "I think I had the bench vice too tight." 


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