I am the only one She was my sister and she was sleeping late. She's a lot older than me and at the time she was about to break into films, directing them, so everybody was indulging(纵容) her. She was the only girl, too. If something didn't work out in her life and she had to come home for a while, it was a big deal. It mattered more than if I fucked up in one way or another. When Kelly was at home you had to creep(蹑手蹑脚) around the house and keep your voice down even if it was in the middle of the afternoon. Our mother's Canadian - I don't know why I say that, except maybe it helps explain her opinion about Kel: Smarts Needs Special. It was this crappy little phrase that she had made up and it meant that clever people. People with special talents, need special treatment. Like they have a disease. You have to meet the Canadian side of our family to understand how cute she thinks that phrase is. I remember thinking that it was bullshit(n.胡说) when I was fourteen and it still smells bad now. But to my mother, Kelly was this asteroid (小行星)that had landed in our lives and no one knew how she got there or what size hole she was going to leave. I've never been very good at school, and Pete, our older brother, is the same. Then along comes Kelly. So my mother has us all pussy-footing(轻轻的走) around like a family mime(笑剧) troupe (剧团), waving our hands, taking our shoes off.
I'm thinking of a particular morning, I was creeping around trying to make a silent breakfast, opening cupboards quietly, acting like I didn't exist. I'd been doing it for a couple of weeks since Kelly got back. It felt like I'd been doing it my whole life. The situation came about because earlier in the year Kelly had moved in with this guy called Aidan. They bought furniture, the whole works. Then she cheated on him and he left her. Apart from Kelly being back in our house, it was also a shame because Aidan was the only man she ever went out with, before or since, whom I've had any time for whatsoever. Aidan was a top man, a good guy. The thing I like about him was that he was smart, but he didn't need much of this special treatment. He was Irish, from Dublin, and he could be funny, he could talk football and he liked to see other people's mouths open and close besides his own. It was good knowing someone like him. I needed it; what with dad not being around, Pete married and gone; and me in a house full of women. That was the year I was praying for a few more inches on my height and shaving the bare space under my nose hoping that something might turn up. So it was good to know Aidan, six foot three and hairy as a bear. He was hairy back and front and Kelly would tease 揶揄, ( 取笑) him about it, and he would laugh her off or tell her she could do with losing a few pounds which, between you and me, was nothing but the truth. She was a fat little thing back then. And he went and told her, straight-up; didn't care that she was almost, sort of,
famous. He told it how it was. That was the way he loved her. She never appreciated it, though, and then she had this fling with some pretty boy in the film industry. But you could see she realised what she'd lost when he left her because she slunk (slink 的过去式, 溜走) back home and holed herself up in Pete's old room that I'd been using for weights. She took it over and lay in there all day in the dark curled up(卷起) in a stinking (臭的,讨厌的)duvet(棉被) watching old black-and-white films. I remember asking her, 'Why can't you use your own bedroom?' She had a small bedroom upstairs that used to be covered wall to wall in her school friends' graffiti until she went off to university and mum whitewashed the whole thing. I asked her again, 'Why can't you use your own bedroom, that's what it's there for.' She said, 'I can't sleep and work in the same room. I need a study.' She said it as if a study is one of those things you can't do without, like clean water. I said, 'But I need to exercise.' She said, 'You're fourteen. Your body isn't even developed. The only thing you need to do is stop beating the bishop before you go blind.' This was classic Kelly. She always knew how to make you feel four inches long in every direction. So she came back, and I had to move out all my weights and spread them around the house wherever there was space. I put the bench press in my room along with the free weights. I put the Abdominizer in the lounge. I stuck the chin-up bar at the top of the stairs which lead down to the front
door. And even though I was pissed off with Kelly for taking the spare room, having the weights all over the place did make it more like circuit training and doing circuits made me feel like I was Rocky. It's what they do in the middle of Rocky movies; a two-minute sequence to show that over a number of months he got fit and pumped up. You pray for that kind of speedy, magic-time when you're working out, the same way you wish your adolescence would pass like it does in a TV serial: a school scene, a sex scene and graduation. It's slower and faster than that. And some events become still and solid, and turn into a thing in your life, an object like a lampshade or an ironing board. They hang around; you could reach out and touch them. This day I'm trying to tell you about is like that. So: my exercise. I'd start in my room, and do about four sets of twenty. Then I'd run downstairs and start on the Abdominizer. If you've never seen one, they're like half of something fun, half a bike or half a swing. You lie down in them and you do sit-ups. You spend good money trying to make sit-ups something else. In the end, a sit-up is a sit-up. But I'm a big a mug as anyone and I'd try and do two hundred sit-ups in that thing in sets of fifty. The pain was very bad. So I'd think of something that pissed me off, usually Kelly, and the anger would help me push out the last fifty. I wanted to show her that I could develop if I wanted to. Because there was always this thing between her and me that we were
both kind of overweight, and always telling the other one that they were obsessed with it. So if Kelly didn't eat lunch, I'd be like 'For fucksake, you're not dieting are you? You're not even fat.' Trying to make her feel pathetic. And if she caught me with the abdominizer (it was hers, she never used it), she'd say something like,' Jono, you're not even developed yet. It's just puppy fat, for fuckssake, give it a chance. We used to swear like troopers. And we like to make each other feel bad about things. Around that time she was also giving me a lot of shit about girls. All about how she didn't want me to sleep with girls because I was too young and under-developed. She was more a mother in that way. And the fact that I started exercising, working-out - that really irritated her. She'd find me with a weight in my hand and start shouting. She'd say I was a boy trying to be a man too soon. I know I'm meant to be the stupid one, but I could work out for myself that it was all about Aidan. Not me. Most days, I just did my best to avoid her. When I'd finished the sit-ups, I'd normally do about twenty-five press-ups before going to the top of the stairs and doing my chin-ups. The way the bar was positioned meant I could see the people passing in the street. That was deliberate. To be honest, I've never been a natural exercise freak and you need something to distract you, take you away from the reality of it, otherwise you go mad. So I'd watch people without them knowing and then occasionally someone would pot me through the glass pane in the
door, spot my head going up and down, and you could see them double-take, trying to work out what was going on. From out there it looked like magic. Levitation. A nice way to end a heavy-going routine. But on this morning that I'm talking about, I really wanted to see the street and pull my own weight - I didn't care about the rest. I skipped the press-ups, went straight to the bar and hooked my hands round it. I don't know how much you know about it, but when you do a chin-up you meet your own fingers in a position you don't usually come across. With the nails facing you, like somebody else's hands are reaching out to touch your face. I remember looking at my fingers, all white, all the blood gone travelling elsewhere, and thinking that this was OK, doing this with your fingers. Do you know what I mean? It wasn't holding a camera or writing a concerto, but it was OK. It made them tingle. It got the blood going, and that's the whole point, isn't it? Whatever gets the blood pumping. Whatever makes you feel high; unreal. And then I saw Cole coming down the street, heading for our front gate. You couldn't miss Cole because he was black, six foot nine and a half inches and fourteen years old. I had only met Cole a month earlier, after I joined this new school for my re-takes. I failed practically everything the summer before and it was one of those schools where they cram a lot of stuff into a little time to get you ready to re-take your exams in December.
Cole was re-taking practically everything too. But weirdly, between the two of us, we'd managed to fail a lot of totally different subjects. I remember thinking that was hilarious at the time. Two people being so stupid, but with no overlap. Stupid in two completely different ways. So Cole and I were only in one class together, Performing Arts, a course that had a lot less performing in it than we'd hoped. We'd both taken it because we thought it'd be an easy option. In fact, it was mostly reading about the history of the cinema and the theatre. Really dry stuff. I was bored out of my mind until Cole turned up, late and slow as usual, two weeks into the course. Six foot nine and a half. I remember when I first saw him I couldn't believe it. I asked him all the usual questions. I said, is it weird being that tall? Do you have to buy different clothes? Are all your family like that? And Cole said, 'No, mate, I'm the only one.' You could tell how often he got asked the lame stuff I'd just asked him. I didn't want to bore him, but it's a hard thing to get used to. Harder than you'd imagine. It still hadn't worn off when I saw him loping up the path, a magic giant, while I levitated, a genie. He spotted me, and looked surprised, and I laughed and dropped down from the bar. For some reason I always felt so happy to see Cole. So happy! And this was the first time he'd come round to my house so it was like a stamp on our new friendship. It was a green light. I didn't want to be a big girl about it, but to be honest with you, I kind of skipped down the steps.
'Whatsup Cole?' I said, opening the door. I greeted him how we always greeted each other. In way I couldn't really describe; low handshakes and a kind of slouchy walk we picked up off MTV, the videos, the rap shows. We liked to be American about it. But it was still very personal to us. We added something to it, is what I'm trying to say. Cole grinned like a madman. 'Hey brother, you were floating! Where's your magic carpet?' I pointed to the chin-up bar. 'Oh, I see. Getting fit for the ladies,' he said, even though I had no success with the ladies and he knew it. 'Can I come in?' I said, 'Yeah, but be quiet on the stairs. My sister's asleep. And be careful, bro. You know these ceilings are low! Good to see you, man.' We went up to the lounge and talked about some stuff, stuff that was happening in school. Cole was one of those people who's always trying to put a spin on things. All you got from him was, 'Of course she likes you', and 'Don't worry about that, he won't give you any trouble'. So by the end of a conversation with Cole you sort of felt you were the king of the world, even though he was the one with his head in the heavens. I remember he was talking, flattering me and everything, and I kept looking at him and feeling this strange pride, as if the fact that he was so
tall was something to do with me. Then I got this burning urge to show him to Kelly. 'Wait here,' I said, 'I want to get somebody. Just a minute. Just stay here.' I knocked on Kelly's door a few times but of course she didn't answer so I pushed it open a crack. It smelt like shit in there. I didn't think the sheets had been changed since she moved back. She was asleep but she had an old black and white film that she'd been watching, The Philadelphia Story, playing on the video. Sometimes she'd watch this film three times in a day. If I walked in she'd always say something like, 'Now, you see Jimmy Stewart? There was a man. There was a tall, handsome man.' Or if the other guy was on screen, she'd be like, 'that's how a man should wear a suit. Can you see the cut of that suit?' I didn't give a shit about the film or anybody in it. Kelly was always telling me about stuff I didn't give a shit about. But for some reason, I wanted her to see Cole. I didn't know if it was me or her who would get a buzz out of it. Maybe neither of us. But I wanted it. I was persistent. I said, 'Kelly! Kelly, I want to show you something.' She didn't move. But I kept on. I wanted her to see Cole so much it surprised me. She was asking me, 'What is it? Just tell me what it is. What is it?' But I wanted her to see Cole without warning, the way I first saw him, coming into a room like a moving statue - something great and
still that had been given life. Finally, Kelly moved her big fat butt out of that duve
 

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