Jonah and Derrick were born thirteen months apart to Judy McInnis. The boys shared their mother’s last name because she was never sure who the fathers were. They lived in a small house on the outskirts of a small city in a neighborhood that may have been beautiful when it was new, but by now had become overgrown and neglected.
Jonah was the oldest. Born with a thick batch of brown hair, he was large for his age, but docile and rarely ever cried. He would lie quietly in his crib watching Judy intently. Wherever she went his eyes would follow.
Derrick was blonde, premature, and colicky. When he screamed it seemed to be as much out of anger as it was need. When he raged Judy would come running and as she tried to calm him down a bond formed between the two that did not exist with Jonah. Judy talked incessantly to Derrick while she carried him around. She shared every detail of her life with him and although he could not understand it explains why Derrick began speaking long before Jonah ever muttered a word.
It was taken for granted that Jonah was slow and a doctor confirmed the suspicion before he attended his first day of school. He was not retarded, but try as he might he would always struggle to keep up with his peers. For his own benefit, he did not start school until a year after he was eligible so that he brother could attend with him and provide him the support he was deemed to need.Derrick, on the other hand, was sharp. Aggressive by nature and curious to a fault, he took pleasure out of blurring the lines of acceptable behavior. He would often con the other children of whatever he wanted and then once caught he reveled in the art of talking his way out of it. He bullied and swore on the playground all throughout grade school. Even Jonah was a target when there was no one else to harass. Although short and wire thin, Derrick was fearless. His classmates were wise to befriend him to avoid becoming victims themselves.
Home was much of the same for the boys. Derrick was the center of attention, reciting his acts of guile while Judy ate up his exploits and at times seemed to encourage them. Jonah sat alone on the couch, silent. He did not read or play or watch television. He quietly observed the back and forth between Judy and Derrick as if it was some great drama unfolding before his eyes.
For her part, Judy rarely spoke to Jonah except to tell him to get ready for school or dinner or bed. It was shameful, but Jonah never asked for much. Also, Derrick took up so much of her time. Then again, some effort should have been made, but that is in hindsight and in that moment Judy saw nothing wrong in how she raised her sons.