Part 11 – Leo’s weakness

I didn’t say anything. I just kept looking at him.

“That’s who I was visiting,” he said quietly, still playing with the bed cover. “Leo, my eldest brother.”

I wondered what this tendency with his family was of telling me all their most private things. Was it so good talking to me? Maybe I was just a good listener. Or, maybe he just wanted to know more about my mother. I didn’t mind, whatever his reason was.

“He tried to kill himself,” David said, letting his feet slide down to a straight position. I got the urge to grab his hand, but I didn’t want to move. “He did it in my barn, tried to hang himself. That’s the only good thing Mrs. Young has ever done for me. I decided I couldn’t take her class that day and came home early. If I hadn’t …”

He swallowed, his face turning white. Just to show him any compassion, I slid my feet down to touch his. He looked at them, but then he looked back at the cover.

“Was he on drugs?” I asked hesitantly. I knew many junkies killed themselves, or tried. David shook his head.

“He tampered with it a little after dad died, but he found himself something else to get hooked on pretty soon,” he said, a little sarcasm in his voice. “Beatrice Mika Chang.”

“Trish Chang!”

I couldn’t help almost shouting it out. I almost couldn’t believe it. David just grunted.

“That’s the one,” he said darkly. “Ruined his life, that woman.”

He squeezed the bit of cover he was playing with.

“Leo dated Trish Chang?” I asked, just to be sure.

“Dated,” David said, laughing sarcastically. “I don’t think that’s the right description. Got abused by her is more accurate. They met the second time she won Young Miss Dale, and they started dating a year later. But Trish Chang is not the dating type. She cheated on him. Naturally he didn’t like that, but he was in love. He always forgave her, although he always became a little crazy every time he found out. Then, suddenly, she just left him.”

“And he tried to kill himself?” I asked surprised. “That’s a little extreme, isn’t it?”

“Oh, that was two-and-a-half year ago. He tried to hang himself three months ago,” David said. I looked at him.

“I’m confused,” I said. David nodded.

“Understandably. So am I, although probably not about the same thing. See, Trish left him, and he became a little depressed, but he got over it. Then she came back. And he took her back, like nothing had ever happened. But it wasn’t any different. She kept cheating on him, and he forgave her, and then she left again.”

“And then she did it again, and again,” he continued. “She kept coming back to him, and leaving him, and for some stupid reason he became more and more obsessed with her. She is his weakness, his drug, he can’t say no to her no matter how bad she is for him. But eventually he started realizing she would probably never stay with him. She would never be his. That’s when he tried to kill himself.”

I didn’t know what to say. I just kept looking at him.

“He’s mad at me,” he eventually said. “That’s why I was sleeping in the visitors’ room. He doesn’t want to see me. I was hoping he would change his mind, but he’s stubborn.”

“He’s mad at you for saving his life?” I asked surprised.

“He was mad at me before that; I wasn’t hiding what I thought about Trish and her games. He might be mad at me for saving his life, I don’t know, I haven’t seen him since, but Frank told me he’s mostly mad because I put him in St. Bernard’s. Unlike your mother, he doesn’t want to be there and sees no reason why he should be kept there.”

“You put him there?” I asked surprised. “I thought it would have been your mother.”

“No, mom wouldn’t have put him there. She would have made him stay here so she could keep an eye on him. But he would have left soon. I did what I know dad would have done, and I’m not going to apologize for it. So far Frank’s the only one who agrees with me.”

David sounded very mad at his family for not seeing his side of things.

“Well, if it’s any consolation, I think you did the right thing,” I said and smiled a little. He looked at me. “How could I not, I practically did the same thing!”

He smiled. We sat in silence for a while, both thinking out our own things.

“You know, I get this feeling that after your father died you became the man of the house, even though you’re the youngest,” I said thoughtful. David frowned.

“No, not really, but I guess it’s been heading in that direction for the past year. After dad died mom took us to France, to my grandparents. They own a farm there, Sinclair farm. I told you the name was taken,” he said and grinned. “That’s where I was that year I went away. That’s why I’m a year behind at school. We were grieving. But Leo didn’t want to go. He got his own place, and started dating Trish. But he looked after us after we came back, even though he didn’t live with us. Looked in on us almost every day. He was the man of the house, like you called it, until I became 16. Then the fighting started for real.”

“I have to admit, although Leo is stubborn, I’m worse. We get it from dad. No one pushed my dad around. When I was 12 and told him and mom I wanted to change schools because I was going to be a mechanic like dad, they didn’t like it. Dad fought against it for a long time, but as I said, I’m stubborn. He couldn’t budge my decision, and eventually mom managed to persuade him that it wasn’t really such a bad thing. I had been working with him in the barn since I was 6, but he started really teaching me the business after that. He was eventually so happy with how well I was doing and how fast I was learning, he promised me I could take over the barn after he retired. He didn’t plan on dying, of course, but a promise is a promise. When I turned 16 my mother remembered what dad had said and she told me she was going to give me the barn, and the land around it. Basically half the farm. Leo didn’t like that. He didn’t think I was old enough to take on such a thing. But mom just told him to shut up and did it anyway. She wasn’t going to go against her husbands’ will, especially since he was dead. Leo and I’ve been arguing about almost everything since. My other brothers don’t mind him bossing them around, but I do. I don’t think he likes that I’ve proved him wrong, either. Business is going rather well.”

Other than usual, my aunt had actually showed some interest in my existence and told me not to come home later than ten, so pretty soon I had to go. I didn’t want to. I could have stayed there and talked to David about St. Bernard’s and our crazy relatives all night. But I was a good little girl and did what I was told. Besides, my aunt was not a woman to cross. I pitied David to ever have crossed her way.

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