This is Stupid

I joined a writing group. This picture was my first prompt.

And here is what I wrote. I apologize in advance.

They were brothers, once. In oath, and in blood.

Philosophers and officers of the law like to quip that the rain falls on the just and the unjust alike. Take a moment to think about that and you’ll realize that the same is true of all weather, be it rain, snow, hail, a gentle breeze, or like today, warm uplifting sunlight.

One is just, one is not—though you’d be hard pressed to figure out which is which—they spy each other through a crowded street on a pleasant spring morning. It is immediately clear that neither of them ever expected to the see the other alive again. The man in white is the first to move, slowly, so slowly, in and around and through the crowd. His demeanor speaks of a military man, of training, rank, and discipline. He sits on a simple bench and lays his weapon—still sheathed in its bucket—across his lap. The invitation is clear.

The man in yellow, the Clown, approaches the bench, but remains standing. He is casual, languid, comfortable in the movement of his body in a way the colonel could never be. His hand rests easily on the hilt of his frysaber.

 

“Hello, Ronnie,” says the man in white, the Colonel. “You never did answer my letters.”

The Clown eyes him carefully. Though he never anticipated having to go through with it, he’d rehearsed this meeting hundreds of times in his head, and it was already well off script. Never one to be easily flustered, he smiles and sits. Only now, side by side, does it become painfully obvious: beneath the facepaint, the white goatee, and all the damage cause by years of hovering over a hot grill, these men are identical. With strong chins offset by weak cheeks, they look much, much younger than they actually are.

“They were written to a man who no longer exists, Harland. They call me McDonald now.”

The Colonel laughs to himself quietly. “Yes. Ronald McDonald, the wandering clown. Is it true what the people say? That you’re slinging burgers in towns from here to the mountains?”

“Further,” says the Clown, swelling with pride. “Killed the ‘Burglar, too.”

“I knew that one. Saw the… leftovers.” They sit for a few minutes in surprisingly comfortable silence, watching passersby. Perhaps they are reminiscing about their time as boys, fishing together by the river. Perhaps each is planning how exactly he will kill the other. Who can say. “Why are you doing this, Ronnie? You’re a Sanders. We’re chicken folk. We’ve always been chicken folk.”

The Clown turns to his brother, his breath shallow and controlled. “You know exactly why I left, Harland.”

“Ronnie—“

“Stop calling me that.”

“Ronald,” sighs the Colonel, “whatever’s happened between us, whatever has yet to happen between us, you know I loved Wendy just as much as you.”

“Not enough to save her,” retorts the Clown.

The Colonel is taken aback by his brother’s stubbornness, though he supposes he shouldn’t be surprised. They were nothing if not stubborn. “Perhaps not.” He leans in and hisses, “but I’m not the one who walked her right to middle of the court of the King.”

They sit quietly for a time again, though now there is no doubt as to what is on their minds.

“So how is it going to be, Ronald?” asks the Colonel. “Shall we let each other pass peacefully, go about our business like ships in the night? In honor of our long-lost ginger?”

The Clown’s hands tense visibly on the hilt of the frysaber.

“No,” signs the Colonel. “I suppose not.”

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