Robby was a mean brother. There is no pleasant way of saying it. He was incorrigible. I have no idea why he was so angry or why he had a perverse pleasure in hurting people. If I had to guess, I would say he was reacting to dad while imitating his evilness. I do not recall one good thing that he ever did for anyone. I have illustrations.
One time he took a bedsheet from our beds and tied strings to each corner. He was rigging a makeshift parachute. He forced two of us (me) to climb a tree and jump into a pile of sticks that he had pointing in our direction. The protruding limbs were a nice touch; that’s my brother.
If you’re wondering, the chute did not open during the 12-foot drop. Fortunately, we were not hurt, as I remember it—other than our feelings. Perhaps you’re thinking, why did you do it? A good question. Robby always gave us two options: do what he said or he would beat us, and it was not a friendly beating. Typically, wisdom said it was better to follow along with his plans.
Another time he urinated in the lawnmower because he did not want to cut the grass. I can still see my dad yanking the cord, trying to start the mower while cursing a blue streak. It was humorous to us twisted, angry kids. Of course, Robby miscalculated. By the time dad got the mower repaired, the grass was more than a foot high. It was a beast to cut.
On another occasion, he took a rope and made a “squared circle” (wrestling term) around a few trees and bushes to form a wrestling ring. He got hyped-up from watching the Saturday wrestling show, so he and the next older brother, Joey, put on ski masks and pretended to be the “Masked Bolos,” a wrestling team back in the day.
They beat up two of the three young siblings (me). We oscillated between continual fear of getting beat up by Robby and enduring the wrath a drunk dad who verbally taunted and hit us. It was a sad childhood.
One time Robby strung up a cat inside an open soda machine. (I’m not sure why the soda machine was open, though I have an idea.) Then he beat the animal to death. Robby topped this event by hanging a boy from the second story of our old school building by his ankles just for kicks.
The funniest time was when he strung a thick string between two trees at the end of a path that led to our grandmother’s home. We lived about 50 yards from her. He was hoping that one of us would run down the lane to grandma’s house and get clipped at the neck. The funny part happened shortly after he strung up the string. Mother called him back to the house to do something. He forgot about his trap. Later, mom asked him to get something at grandma’s house.
Mother said she was washing the dishes, looking out the kitchen window that faced grandma’s house when she saw her oldest son run down the path. And all of a sudden, Robby was nearly decapitated as his legs shot out from under him. This “kid karma” was one of the more excellent moments from my weird childhood–from my perspective.
One evening Robby and Joey got into one of their “normal fights.” It escalated to the point where they broke a window in the living room. The glass cut a primary vein, and Robby began to spurt blood on the floor. They stopped fighting, as Robby was weakening and collapsing on the floor. It was a surreal moment. They called the ambulance, who arrived at the nick of time. He almost died. It was the oddest thing to sit there, not able to do anything other than watching your brother die.
And then there was the time when mother was so angry at him that she threw an ashtray and hit him on the side of his head. It was a heavy ashtray.
I was glad in the way of enjoying wrestling where you vicariously take pleasure in good beating up evil.
Mom had a mean fastball.