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Cain vs. Cain


Of course, he remembers the goddamn sandwich board. "Today's soup: the tears of our enemies." Jay's subsequent promotion at the Rabbit Hole (presumably on account of being so goddamn clever), was immediately followed by Jasper's now-infamous Yelp review, in which a web-savvy 65-year-old woman had graphically described how the new manager had sexually assaulted her service dog (which was also pretty goddamn clever). Both boys had (of course) been fired. Both had (of course) told the other he quit.

Now, in the fragile Chinese paper lantern glow of their boyhood tent, Jasper and Jay share the contents of their father's dented flask. "People like us," says Jasper, "we need wars."

"Do we?" says Jay, but of course he agrees. Outside the tent, the blistery red licks of the fire jot skyward in fits and starts.

"Don't come crying to me if this turns into some 'Telltale Heart' shit for you," says Jasper.

"I won't," says Jay.

The trip had been Jay's idea, a kind of campy ode to the past twenty years, which had been a kind of campy ode to the first twenty chapters of ​Fight Club.​ The last time either could remember having functioned amicably was when they'd vowed to date the Olsen twins together in the fourth grade. The years since had been a cavalcade of escalating transgressions, each more Andronican than the last.

e.g., O​n account of Jasper (who claims to be a vegetarian), Jay no longer has pets larger or more sentimental than a goldfish.

e.g., O​n account of Jay (who claims to be straight as a proverbial arrow), Jasper no longer mentions when he's engaged.

"This is reminding me of something," says Jasper.

"Genesis?" says Jay.

"No, the summer after kindergarten," says Jasper.

Beneath a swath of violet, the indifferent fire laps at the collapse of a log. Or a femur. Jay pours another shock of liquid into the speckled aluminum mugs. "What is this shit?" says Jasper.

"Amontillado," says Jay.

"Cute," says Jasper.

The click of the toast becomes a kind of mirror, each hunting down the slight genetic deviations, the shape of the brows, any rogue curvature of the hairline. A rubbery, earthy stench of flannel and Deet and neanderthal impartiality and drugstore cologne winds its way beneath the rift of the tent flap.

"Why did you hate him?" says Jay.

"Because he loved you more," says Jasper. "What about you?"

"Because he loved us the same," says Jay.

Tomorrow, they will almost certainly relapse. Even now, behind the near-orgasmic flicker of unity, each is silently coiling an exquisite plot to pin this on the other with the precision of a boutonniere. Each will be up before dawn, jockeying for who calls the National Park Service to file the report, scuffing each other's boots with the ashes.

Tonight, they'll talk late into the night, each adoring the other as the best lesser version of himself, roasting marshmallows over the embers.