|The House of Mercury
Author: Guede Mazaka
By the time they’ve dropped one cherry bomb too many in the school toilets, they’ve practically made town mascot. Singular, not plural, because really, Connor and Murphy are like stepping in your own footprints in the snow. The teachers all have their little mental lists of which twin does what, but they’ve long since forgotten them because the McManuses are always moving too fast for any details to be distinguished. Except maybe the occasional smoke-ring floating out to the side.
But yeah, it’s nothing like hell-bent bastards and cruel dodgers—no, the last place anyone pictures the grinning, backslapping, clever-assed and lazily brilliant twins is jail, no matter what vocal predictions they make. Connor’s just got that bit of sense holding them back, or maybe it’s Murphy’s instinct for that one right way of supporting his brother that makes even the head of the school succumb to laughter, though he’s throwing them out.
Ma’s disappointed, but not really. She knew damn well they were never one for the school, their five, fifty, whatever shared tongues aside.
Connor wonders once in a while whether she knows the second meaning of that: the way Murphy will lash his spit up against the roof of Connor’s mouth when he comes and they’re still kissing, the way Connor can’t resist dragging out a taste of that peppermint strip trailing around the inside of Murphy’s mouth. He wonders if maybe the whole town knows, has figured it out but done it so gradually that it seems natural. It’s a good Catholic place, as their Ma keeps reminding them, but it isn’t one for the strict fire and brimstone. She tells them that, too, with a sneer fresher and more raw than it usually is and a damp light in her eye.
And she’s always muttering about high spirits and small rooms, and how easy it is to break the ceiling, though as far as Murphy knows, he and Connor haven’t ever gone that far. If things are that cramped, then maybe she should move. Hell, he and Connor aren’t even living at home anymore. Only about five minutes’ walk away, and it’s a fucking shitty little hole in the only apartment building this side of town, but their place is just far enough so they can hear Ma dicking around with the guns without risking bullet rain. And it’s right above the bar, which is always important. When Connor’s just this side of tipsy, it’s easy as pinching cigs to get him on his back.
It’s comfortable, yeah? They’ve got jobs, and decent-paying ones for this end of the country because one, family takes care of its own and they have a fucking lot of uncles on Ma’s side, and two, they just know. When to turn, when to catch, when to twist around each other and trade.
Everything seems like sex, which makes Connor want to laugh and roll his eyes at the same time. He’s not a teenager getting yanked around by his dick, he’s damn well not lovesick over an airheaded jackass like Murph, yet some days just the flash of the curve of Murph’s shoulder is enough. Just the fading blue glimmer of jeans. And then, later, he’s got Murphy up against the wall with his hands spreading his own twin’s legs for his aching prick and his mouth buried in Murph’s neck, rolling over endless plains of sweet flesh. He hurries and doesn’t look to see what he’s doing, so he always ends up catching his lip on a bead at least once.
Ma wanted them respectable, whatever the hell that meant. A suit, a strangling tie and a briefcase, maybe. Someday Murphy’s gonna borrow those from Liam and show up on the doorstep while Connor snickers himself sick in the bushes. But the whole church bit was Da’s idea, she swore and swears up and down, and Murphy supposes he has to believe her, given that Da’s not around to say otherwise. He doesn’t really put much stock in what isn’t around, and moreover what he doesn’t feel the lack of when it isn’t around. They got up fine without a Da or a Father What-Have-You that did anything more than a Sunday mass, and Connor took care of him. And now Connor takes him, hard and rough so the wall’s rasping his back through thin cotton, and Murphy gasps and moans and doesn’t miss a thing.
In the morning, they’ll read the newspapers—fighting over the sports pages—and they’ll pause on the bit with the news from other countries. Not that the rest of the world doesn’t have its fair share of problems, and more than that in the case of Ireland and a few others, but America somehow seems to outdo them all. It’s like the land of the free, purveyor of commercials that deafen and bright shiny McDonalds, is screaming beneath all the plastic, and no one can figure out how to stop it.
“Good thing we’re not there,” Connor mutters, tossing Murph his jacket so the fucker doesn’t go and get sick and snot all over Connor’s again.
“Christ. Hey, maybe we should go there sometime, see if it’s really that bad.” Murph shrugs on half the coat and leaves the rest dangling while he sneaks a hand into Connor’s backpocket.
And Connor just gives him a look. “You don’t fucking rubberneck, Murph. You either walk off or you do something about it.”
“Well, can’t do fucking either if we’re over here, can we?” The words weigh strangely heavy on Murph’s tongue for a moment. But then Connor has him pinned to the doorframe, and he loses speech.
Behind them, the window is ajar so a breeze comes and ruffles the paper, making it wave forlornly at their unseeing backs.