Like every other guy in town, Jude had the hots for Katie. After all, she did resemble a cross between
Cher and Brooke Shields. Even though Jude was pretty good looking, he was strange, and I’m not just saying that because he’s my brother. Jude had this theory that if you didn’t shower for a day or two after you sunbathed, the dirt would sink into your skin and increase your tan factor. He brought this theory up every time he lay out with us.
“Ooooh, ga-ross!” we’d squeal. Gross was our favorite word and we always said it as if it had two syllables.
I blame Jude’s weirdness on illegal pharmaceuticals. He didn’t take Nancy Reagan’s advice to just say no to drugs. He smoked a boatload of pot. In fact, he grew it in his room. Mom thought it was a really pretty houseplant.
“I never would have guessed Jude had a green thumb,” she said.
His grades weren’t great but I reckon he was a little smart because he figured out how to fashion a pot pipe out of a salt shaker. It was shaped like a catfish and the one time I walked in on him getting high, he looked like he was kissing a thumb-sized sea creature or giving it mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. The room he shared with my oldest brother Matthew often smelled like a fall burn pile.
Jude liked to brag about sniffing glue to Katie Lynn and me. I knew he was telling the truth because I saw the squeezed tubes of model glue in the woods whenever I walked our dog over that way. He also told us how he and his buddies did acid every day during their high school years. One of his friends dropped so much it damaged him forever. He never made it to college. Heck, he never even made it out of his parents’ house. He was like the poster child for that commercial that showed an egg being cracked open: “This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs.” And then they’d show the egg frying.
Jude was always getting into trouble. Like the time the police called the house and informed Mom they’d nailed him shoplifting. She gave me the job of phoning my father at his office and telling him. Man, was Dad honked off. Right after he picked Jude up at the police station, he drove him to a barber shop and told the guy to shave Jude's head. Mom boohooed for days. I don’t know which bothered her more—his criminal record or the removal of his pretty copper curls. I found them one day when I was snooping through her dresser drawers. Dad must’ve had the barber put the hair in a baggie for her. I snuck outside with them. Stuffed them into a garbage bag inside a trash can. Just because.
In addition to being a klepto and a druggie, Jude consumed scads of beer. In fact, the first time I ever got drunk was with him. Jude and his friend Robbie had snuck a case of Rolling Rock into the basement. Katie Lynn and I walked downstairs to watch Charlie's Angels, and there they were—the boys and the beer.
“Want some?” Jude asked.
“No,” I said.
“Yes,” Katie Lynn said.
I have no idea how my folks never figured out two college boys were getting two ninth grade girls tipsy in the basement. I take that back. I do have an idea.