You may not know this, but Dave didn't have a great life before me and Dad got a hold of him. You see, Dad was married to his mom for a few weeks before he even found out she was Irish, let alone had a kid. Let's just say when Dad got invited over to meet him, he broke up with her. Quick. What he really did was kidnap her son. Not that he didn't have good reason; don't get me wrong! See, there were never even any charges pressed. That's how much his birth parents loved him. The only reason Dad never adopted him was because they couldn't be found to sign the papers.
Anyways, he was eight just barely at that point. Dad had found out he hadn't spoken at all since he was two, and those first few months were no different. We thought maybe he had brain damage (how right we were, huh?) because we knew he had a voice still. He screamed to high heaven some nights, but he never said a peep when he was awake.
I remember one night I was so jealous of him. This was about three days after he came home with Dad. Anyways, it was the middle of the night and suddenly I heard screaming coming from the other side of the room. Dad had given Dave my bed and made me sleep on the floor until we had enough money to buy a second one for me. At least I had the couch cushions though. But back to the story. Dave was screaming. Dad came in right quick and ran over to the bed like he was afraid there was an actual monster attacking his "new son". He pulled the chain on the side table lamp and turned it on so blue fish showed up on the walls from the shade and Dave woke up. Instantly he scooted to the back corner of the bed, away from both of us, but especially Dad.
And get this. He wet his pants. Not while he was asleep, oh no. No, he woke up, saw Dad standing over him, and wet his pants in fear. And Dad didn't even laugh at him! He didn't call him a wussy! He didn't say anything! At all! He picked Dave up, put him on the floor standing up, took his wet clothes and sheets, cleaned him and the bed off, and got him, not only clean bedding, but one of his own white undershirts to sleep in. If I had done that, I would have been laughed to hell and back for months before he got bored of it or his alcohol-addled mind forgot! I asked him why he was like that once when I got in trouble for something that Dave had done the day before and not gotten in trouble for. He told me it was because Dave was already sorry and I wasn't allowed to pick on him for it until he said so, and don't be a jackass about it.
I remember another time too. The first time I thought Dave was a total moron. Besides the not knowing how to talk thing, which I found out just a little while ago was because no one ever talked to him. Like ever. He just sat in his room alone until he was eight and he wasn't allowed to make noise, and that included moving around too much. As it turns out, the thing I was talking about before was the second time I was kind of wrong about the whole moron thing. Not that he isn't.
So then. We didn't know it, but Dave had this thing for stashing food. He'd eat with the rest of us, sure, like the first time Dad gave him a Snickers bar and he ate it in literally nine seconds flat, and the second one immediately after, which was supposed to be for me, in less than fifteen. I swear, he could get into the Guinness Book if he ever found out about it. Anyhow, he was stashing food without us knowing. We caught him a while after this incident so we know what happened. Dad had gotten a bonus at work so he'd gone and bought a roast beast just like in that Dr. Seuss book, but smaller, and he cooked it up with some potatoes and so-called rabbit food that he's only willing to eat when it's roasted in the fat of a dead animal and crystallized with salt and pepper.
And Dave ate two whole plates practically overflowing with the stuff, but oh no, that wasn't enough for him. He had to go and steal a bunch of it for himself for later. He stole two baked potatoes, three slices of roast beast, and a bowl full of gravy and roast vegetable fat-carriers. He kept them hidden in my dresser that stored his clothes ever since he moved in. He apparently didn't know about meat going bad after a few days out of the fridge, so he saved that for three days before eating it. And gave himself food poisoning. We had to take him to the emergency room and he stayed for three days and Dad got investigated as an abusive parent. Something to do with Dave being like ten pounds underweight, which I see now is a huge deal when the kid's less than four feet tall to begin with. Luckily, he pulled it all off and got Dave back and kept me despite my huge protests to the social workers that Dad gave all his attention to Dave now and Dave sucked and they could take Dave away if they felt like it because I wouldn't mind. Hey, he was a moron.
I see now that was wrong. Not about the moron thing. That I wouldn't have minded Dave getting taken away. He may be a stupid idiot, but he's our stupid idiot. I realized that a few weeks after the food thing. You see, Dave wasn't faking it. He wasn't just trying to get attention. Dad had stopped doing stuff with him, like sitting up at night in a chair next to the bed with the lamp on, never saying a word as he read his book until Dave fell asleep again after another nightmare. But Dave hadn't stopped having nightmares. And he hadn't stopped stashing food, even when me or Dad found it and took it away. No, he just found new and creative ways to hide it. Sure, he didn't hide meat again, but he still gave himself stomach problems until his stomach lining adapted and remade itself out of the wrought iron material he must have today. And he never said anything. He didn't do anything either.
When he was at daycare in his special classroom with the other special kids, the teachers sent notes home that said he never did anything but sit in the corner and stare. He didn't even watch the other kids; he just looked at nothing and occasionally rocked front and back. The only thing he would ever move for was food at snack and lunchtime. We knew they weren't just exaggerating because he did the same thing at home, but Dad would physically pick him up and move him out of the bedroom corner and sit him in front of the TV with us, where he'd stare at nothing from the comfort of the couch that I had to move the cushions back to every day.
And then one day he changed. I was outside playing in the sprinkler because damn summer gets hot sometimes and Dad wouldn't spring for a pool. I looked up and saw his face in the window. He was watching me. Actually watching, not just staring in my general direction. So I walked inside, dripping wet (which I got yelled at for later), and invited him out. He just kept staring at me, so I gestured in a very mature way what I was saying and threw a pair of shorts on his head. He went into the bathroom and took forever to put them on before he opened the door again and waited for me to gesture him to follow me outside. I still remember that look of shock on his face the first time he got sprinkled like he didn't know it would be cold. So I picked up the sprinkler and chased him around the yard until Tommy went and told his dad on me. Which I also got in trouble for later.
He started to talk a couple days after that. Sort of. He would mouth everything anyone said in his presence like he was trying to figure out how people said words. It was annoying, but I got him to mimic some pretty funny stuff when Dad wasn't around. And then one day he actually spoke. His voice sounded wrong, and he didn't quite say the words right, and it set him off on a coughing jag, but he was allowed to go get the snack he'd asked for. So long as he brought back a beer for Dad from the kitchen. Which I had been doing since I was three and I never got any credit for it.
Dad had been so happy that he actually called the daycare and bragged about how he got Dave to talk. And he invited Tommy's dad over for a few seconds and gloated to him until he got too annoyed. All of this happened over a grand old span of about three minutes, but it was enough to embarrass Dave into shutting up for another week. Which was just fine with me.
And then he started talking to Tommy too, and then Tommy's dad, and then the people at school. For a while there, a few years later, he spoke more than anyone I knew, but it only lasted until he got that look you get from people when you just said something completely stupid a few too many times, and then he got more like he is now, waiting in the background, speaking, getting the look, and shutting up for a while. After he goes on to obliviously make a huge fool out of himself of course. Well, not always obliviously. Usually he just doesn't care anymore, which is nice, I guess. For him.
Because he never did get any smarter. He stayed in the special rooms until middle school and even then, Dad had to fight to get him put into regular classes with the rest of us. By that time Dad was treating Dave the same way he treated me, mostly because, as he put it, I had corrupted my brother and made him into as big of a wussy moron as I was. Which I maintain is not true. I just made him a bit more enthusiastic about it. And besides, it's not like Mom and Dad didn't help!