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Ray Brenner was my brother

Big Brother

By Pam

 

Rated PG

Warnings: Nothing that hasn't come up in "A Nice Place to Visit."

Summary: Face remembers Ray Brenner. A response to Reckless's "Ray" challenge.

 

* * * *

 

 

Ray Brenner was my brother.

 

He was the big brother I never had.  We even joked about having the same name, not that I had any illusions that Brenner was really my name. It was just the next one on the list at the orphanage, but Ray was still my big brother. 

 

I'd met Ray when I first arrived at the camp. I knew him by name, but that's about it. I didn't want to know anybody well. I didn't know how long I'd be around. I had a plan, but it turned out Ray had a plan, too. He gave me his helmet when I lost mine in my first firefight.

 

Lost it on purpose.

 

A simple maneuver, really. If anybody happened to be looking my way, they'd assume it was a clumsy accident. Tragic, maybe.

 

Just my luck that the one person who saw me was Ray, and he knew it was no accident.  He dropped down beside me and shoved his helmet on my head with a ferocity that jarred my teeth. And then he looked at me, and I looked at him. We might have been anywhere. All the noise and smoke around us didn't mean anything.

 

I knew he knew.

 

And he knew I knew.

 

After what seemed like an eternity, but was really only maybe three seconds, he spoke.  "We'll talk tonight, and by God, you'd better be there, Soldier."

 

I nodded, suddenly much less scared of dying than what Ray was going to say to me.

 

"And take care of that helmet, 'cause I want it back." 

 

I did take care of it, and I gave it back to him that night.  I thought he'd read me the riot act, but he didn't. I thought he'd tell Hannibal, but he didn't. He said what happened was just between us, and as far as I know, it was. I know I never told anybody.

 

Until now. 

 

I remember him telling me, "You'll be okay, kid." 

 

And I was. After that, I made more of an effort and forged a connection to Hannibal, Murdock, and BA that, for better or worse, -- sometimes better, and sometimes worse --  changed my life.

 

I thought that once I'd connected with Ray that he'd be around more, but he wasn't. He transferred to another unit, and we didn't see each other much after that. I remember his last night, after everybody else had headed off to bed. He and I sat at a corner table in the mess, nursing a couple of cups of coffee in the dim light and not saying much. 

 

I remember him telling me again, "You'll be okay, kid."

 

And I was for a while, until the bank job and being sent to Bragg and not knowing what was happening with Murdock. Ray was okay, too. He sent a letter to Bragg, but Hannibal thought it best we not drag him into our troubles, especially since he had Trish to think about, too.  At any rate, we went over the wall one night -- Don't ask me how. That was Hannibal's plan and I'll let him tell you about it himself.

 

We'd heard Murdock was in LA, so that's where we headed. I'd have gone there anyway, because it was the only place that felt like home to me, and I wanted to be home.  

 

Getting in to see Murdock wasn't going to be an easy proposition, what with the MPs staking out the hospital grounds. Hannibal had said since we knew where he was and that he was getting good care, we should leave him alone for a while. I'd agreed then. But later, that's where I'd gone.

 

I couldn't get in to see Murdock. No visitors. No one. But I caught a glimpse of him down the corridor. He didn't see me.

 

Someone saw me, though.

 

"Hi, kid."

 

It was Ray.

 

"You look like you could use a drink. I hear they make a mean cup of coffee in the cafeteria."

 

We sat at a corner table, nursing a couple of cups of coffee and not saying much. He said I could stay with him, but I could never do that. He tried to give me $500, but I could never take his money. He gave me his phone number and told me to call him anytime.

 

I just nodded. Didn't want to make any promises I couldn't keep.

 

I remember him telling me, "You'll be okay, kid."

 

And I have been.

 

More or less.

 

Less today, because Trish sent word that Ray's gone.

 

I wish I'd called him more often.

 

I want to talk to him one more time so he can tell me I'll be okay.

 

~*~

 


Big Brother by Pam

 

 


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