I know I've never written about "Hank," my crazy stepbrother. He's the natural-born son of my stepfather and he is, as I mentioned, batshit crazy.
Hank's always been an aggressive ass and a bully. The apple didn't fall far from the tree, there, but since he spent most of his time at his mother's house instead of ours my life was a lot simpler.
I'm not sure when he started getting crazy, but I know he did it to himself by boozing heavily, driving drunk, and demolishing cars. He took a few head injuries in the late '80s and early '90s. As I understand it, the head trauma triggered some changes in his brain that led to him being diagnosed as paranoid psychotic.
One of the drunken car wrecks led to him being placed on 6 months' house arrest. In our house. Thanks, Dad (step-pops talked the judge into that instead of 30 days in jail--he never seemed to let the bastard face the consequences of his actions, but he'd whip the shit out of me for relatively minor stuff).
Hank took to muttering to himself--"goddamnmotherfuckindrinkinproblem" was a favorite--and pacing around the yard like Jason Voorhees working as a mall-cop. He carried a sledge hammer around for a few weeks, always leaving it at the back door when he came back inside. I decided that it needed to disappear so he wouldn't hurt anyone, and I'm still pretty smug about how I did it.
As I was heading into the house from a coffee run, I grabbed the thing, hoping to sneak it into my room before he came outside--and damned if he didn't pick that moment to open the back door. I'm holding the sledge in my left hand by the end of the handle (he always leaned it head-down against the house by the door) and quickly moved it so it was hidden along my left leg. He came out to my right, never even seeing the hammer, and I moved it around to the front of my leg, walked into the house, and closed the door. Scared the crap out of me. I don't know if he ever figured it out, or whether he blamed the neighbors.
He started carrying a jack handle, instead. Oh, well.
When his house-arrest was finally over, he went back to live with his mother. Instead of the jack handle, he started toting a 12-gauge shotgun or a rifle, pacing along the property line and shouting at passers-by to get off his street. Yes, they were loaded. Step-pops finally got some backbone (it always took him a while to man up and deal with Hank) and took the guns away from him. The rifle went to Hank's son. The shotgun came to our house, where the Old Man kept it in his closet. Yes, it was loaded.
In the next 10 years or so, Hank would cycle between living at his mother's house, living at ours, and staying with his son or sister out in Mississippi. By the late '90s, his mother was so terrified of him that he ended up with us when he was in town. In 2006, when the Old Man had the stroke that brought his Alzheimer's into full play, Hank had to go.
I was picked to clear the guns out of our house, since no one really knew what the Old Man would be like when the Alzheimer's took over. It was a good idea, as it happens, since he freaked out over mirrors and photos of people and was convinced that my mother was an impostor.
I found the shotgun in his closet. Yes, it was loaded. Safety fucking OFF. That's scary enough, but the ammo it had in it was a couple of triple-ought buckshot shells and two one-ounce deer slugs. That's what Hank had been toting around.
It's a wonder no one ever got killed.
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