I think that I have solved the issues with Parts 1 and 3, so please go back and take a look and see if they display correctly. I hope you guys don't mind me posting this story. It's sort of keeping me sane over the winter when I'm not doing much wrestling.
Jack let his backpack hit the floor and sat down across his bed. It was his bed, in the respect that it was in what had been his room when he was a kid. His poster of Bruce Lee was still on the wall. His wrestling trophies were still on their shelf. But now he was in his brother’s house.
“I didn’t change anything,” said David, leaning against the doorframe.
“I see that.” Jack scratched his head and gave his little brother a good look. David had grown quite a bit in three years. He could probably grow a beard now, and he no longer had the face of a kid. He was still short, but muscled up quite a bit, and Jack couldn’t help but note how he filled out his t-shirt. “You look great, you know that?” Said Jack.
David grinned and flexed a bicep. “Not just the kid brother any more, am I?”
Jack nodded his approval. “Yeah. Look at those guns.” He stood up and cupped David’s bicep in his hand. “Very nice, David. You’ve really been hitting the gym.”
“C’mon, let me see ya,” said David, playfully shoving Jack back a step. Jack was surprised at the force David could summon. “Let me see how the Marines have been treating you.”
“Okay, okay…” Laughed Jack. “So, little brother wants to see how the real badass in the family is coming along, huh? Is that what my baby brother wants?”
“Off with the shirt, punk.”
Jack fixed his brother with a look for a second and then with one motion stripped off his t-shirt. David whistled.
“Dude, you look great. Look at those abs!” David ran a hand over Jack’s ridged abdominals. “Hoo-ray for the Marines, dude.”
“We had a weight set at base camp. I was a major lifter.”
“Not much wrestling over there, though.” Jack flexed his biceps and let each pec dance up and down for David’s amusement.
“You gotta come to Middleboro if you want to hit the mats, Jack. You know that.” David slipped off his t-shirt, too. He flexed for Jack. “Not too shabby, huh, Big Brother?”
“Yeah, David. Look at you. Nice chest. Big arms. I bet you drive the boys wild.”
David lost his smile. “Not enough. I keep waiting around for a phone call from that punk, Mitchell. But nothing.”
“Have you called him?” Jack walked over and draped an arm around David’s shoulders. “You can do that, you know.”
“I know. I did. But he hasn’t called back.”
Jack got David in a headlock. “If he doesn’t want to go out with my hunk of a brother, then he’s a loser. Fuck him.”
David worked on Jack’s arm, trying the loosen Jack’s grip. “He’s not…a…loser…”
Jack let go, got behind David and put him in a full nelson, lifting him off the ground. “Has my brother got a crush?”
David grunted from the force of Jack’s hands on the back of his neck. “Uhhh!!! No!”
Jack applied more pressure. “Really?”
“Okay! Okay! I really like him…now let go…”
Jack released him and pulled him in closer to his chest and gave him an affectionate hug. “This guy better be worth it.”
David pulled out of Jack’s hug and punched Jack, playfully in the abs. “He is.”
Jack laughed and reached out to catch David, but David backed up and squared his stance. They leaned over and locked up, working for a takedown in the narrow confines of the bedroom. In their struggle, they bumped up against the side table, knocking over Jack’s authentic Star Wars lamp. David used the distraction to attempt a single leg, but Jack was quicker, and he drove David back onto the bed where he pinned him.
“You can’t beat me, Baby Brother.”
David didn’t answer; he was too busy trying to break free of the school-boy pin Jack had gotten him into.
“Struggle all you want, but you’re not going anywhere.”
“Get off me, Jack! I’ll kick your ass!”
Jack remembered other wrestling matches with David. Out in the yard on the cool grass on summer evenings. On the mats, downstairs in the basement, wrestling until pools of sweat caused them to become slippery. Across that very bed. He’d had David in this pin so many times over the years, and it never failed to piss David off. Jack eased up and leaned down so that they were chest to chest.
“You know what, Davey?”
David struggled to get Jack off for a second or two and then relaxed. “What?” He sounded exasperated.
“I’m really glad to be home.”
Jack and David had their hands clasped together, but Jack released David, and David reached around and hugged Jack.
“Was it scary over there? You know, in Afghanistan?”
Jack held himself up on his elbows and looked down into his brother’s brown eyes. “I don’t scare so easy, Davey.”
David ran a hand over Jack’s head, brushing the stubble of Jack’s hair. “I’m sorry I couldn’t warn you, about…you know…Chris.”
Jack rolled off David and lay on the bed beside him. “No sweat.”
“You still love him, don’t you?”
Jack sighed deeply, and then said, “When I saw him walk out of the bathroom, the first thing that went through my head was that you guys were dating.”
David sat up and put a hand on Jack’s chest. “No! We just wrestle sometimes. That’s all! I haven’t fucked him, Jack. We haven’t even Jacked-off. I swear it.”
Jack ran a hand along David’s rounded tricep. “I know. It was just a stupid thought. But, yeah…I missed him. He never would send me an email or a text or anything.”
“He doesn’t talk about you. It’s sort of an unspoken rule.”
“Great.” Jack looked up at the ceiling for a minute. There was a slight discoloration that had been caused years before when the bathroom upstairs had over-flowed. How many nights had Jack laid in bed and looked at that stain?
Jack sat up and rubbed his eyes. “How about we go over and see this Mitchell guy? See why he’s avoiding you. Maybe I’ll kick his ass for you.”
David laughed. “I want that ass. I’m not sure I want you near it.”