Tina and Dwayne
#1
Tina and Dwayne
 
My oldest cousin Tina
calls me once a week
and will talk and talk and talk
at me for hours—
 
I never get a word in.
 
I don't mind because I put it down
to a kind of loneliness
stamping its feet for attention.
 
I get it too.
 
I see her a dozen times a year
and when she's talking to you in person
she does this thing where she clutches you
by the arm,
just above your elbow—
as if she's holding you still, restraining you
while she tells her story.
 
Or she'll pat your chest
with the back of her hand
when she delivers a punch line—
like she's prodding your lungs to laugh.
 
Dwayne talked that way too;
by his seventh beer
he would practically headlock you
until you cried Uncle
to his charm. He said it all
smiling. But when
the words wouldn't grab
the hands would come out.
 
It scared me at first.
It might be an affront
to more tightly strung egos,
and who the fuck knows who fights and who flees.
 
They said he was stabbed to death
by a boy on a bike
for six dollars and eleven cigarettes.
 
It's not as simple as that.

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#2
i enjoyed the story specially Tina's

i get the impression these two are known by the speaker; if so, is 'they said" needed in the last stanza?
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