My Brother Joe

My Brother Joe

A Story by AndrewH

A soldier returns home from Vietnam. For more of my writing, go to


It’s strange to see your hero get rocks hurled at him in the street. It’s even stranger when you’re the one throwing them.


Joe was in Vietnam. I remember we were eating chicken and watching TV. Joe liked to eat off the bones. They interrupted our scheduled programming and Joe’s number was pulled out of the lottery. Most people said if your number came up it meant you lost the lottery, but Joe was pleased. I wondered why he hadn’t signed up before, why he was waiting on the lottery to pick him. But he was happy. Happy and brave, my brother Joe. Said he couldn’t wait to f**k up some gooks. I didn’t know who gooks were or why they needed fucked up. It didn’t much seem like anyone knew, but it was agreed that they had to be.


Joe came back in a wheelchair. He still had his legs, but they didn’t work no more. Joe said he was lucky, on account of a lot of guys got their legs blew clean off and he still had his. I thought that was a pretty dumb way of looking at it.


Everyone in our family said Joe was a real American hero. The mayor wanted to give him a medal, but Joe turned it down. He joked that he wouldn’t be able to get up the town hall steps in his wheelchair, but I don’t think that was the real reason. Mom said we should go out to celebrate Joe’s medal anyway. She wouldn’t take no for an answer and made Joe wear his uniform. We didn’t have much money but we went to this real fancy place. Joe ordered steak. He usually had it rare, but he asked for it well done. He sounded angry.


While we were eating this girl burst into the restaurant. She had long blonde hair, down to her hips. It was longer than I’ve ever seen before, but it didn’t seem like she took very good care of it. You’d think a girl with hair that long would brush it and clean it all the time, but hers was dirty and tangled. She ran up to Joe and pushed his steak onto the floor.

“Baby killer!” she screamed in his face.

I asked Joe later if gooks were babies. He said gooks were all kinds of people. Normal families. They didn’t sound like bad guys who needed fucked up.

The girl was carried out of the restaurant by two waiters. Joe chased her in his wheelchair.

“I’m sorry!” he shouted.


After that, Joe didn’t spend much time at home anymore. He kept going out for hours and not telling anyone where he’d been. Until today I didn’t really think about it. Joe was in the middle of the road, sat in his wheelchair and wearing his army uniform. The girl with the dirty long hair was there with him. They were both waving American flags. The girl leant into Joe’s wheelchair and kissed him. I’ve never seen people kiss like that before. My parents just bump lips together. Joe and girl looked like they were trying to eat each other.


The girl took out a lighter and lit Joe’s flag. He held it next to hers until they were both alight. The flames were colourful. People started to boo. Everyone was throwing rocks. Cinders of the flag fell to floor.

“Go to hell!” the girl said.

A rock hit her head and cut it open, but she just kept waving the burning flag. More rocks hit Joe. He was smiling. He looked peaceful.

My father handed me a rock and told me to throw it. I said I didn’t want to throw rocks at my brother Joe.

“He’s not your brother anymore,” my father said.

© 2014 AndrewH

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Added on January 26, 2014
Last Updated on January 26, 2014
Tags: short story