It was just a room, any
He walked over and stood next to
me. We said nothing.
My brother reached deep into his pocket and pulled out some loose
change. Searching through the pile
in his hand, he settled on four silver quarters. One by one he fed them into the coin
slot on the machine; first one quarter, then a second, a third, and then the
fourth. The machine knew when it
had enough. Two buttons were
pushed, C-5, and a treat dropped. Bending to lift the tray at the bottom, he
reached in and removed his goodie.
My brother smiled at me.
The treat was nice. It hit
the spot. He fished back in his
pocket again. Four more coins came
out. Again he fed the machine, and
pushed two more buttons. D-6. Another treat dropped.
He smiled. I watched
intently. Again and again he
followed this routine, always with the same result, his desired treat. The machine always dropped its goodies
after having its buttons pushed.
It never failed.
After quite some time he once again fed
the vending machine and pushed the buttons. This time there was no treat. The machine was empty.
He pushed the buttons again. Nothing. He pushed harder, different
combinations. B-4, H-8, F-9. Each time he looked down for the
treat. It was not there. He was angry.
I saw it in his eyes. His
hand shot out and wrenched the coin return. Nothing.
No treat and no quarters back.
The blow that slammed into the glass shook the room.
Still no treat. He grabbed
the corners of the machine and shook, slamming its back into the wall over and
over again with a deafening force.
No treat. The machine stood
Then came the verbal
Second quarter: "I'll always be better
"Go cry like a baby."
Then my buttons.
His hand flew out and wrenched my head down.
The first blow I never saw.
F-2. The second was the
worst. That was the one that
Then the treat:
"Stop it! I'm telling!".
Then I would scream. Sometimes I
would swing back. Occasionally I
would hit something, and then get pummeled for it, but the treat would always
My parents would break us up, and then
we would start all over again.
Back then we would always start all over again.
Not now. No more. The machine knew when it had
I counted each coin as it was fed into
me. The buttons were pushed. He knew just where they were, and when
to push them. He knew how to get
the treat that he wanted, but no more.
I have removed the treats.
The blow that slammed into the glass
shook the room with a deafening force.
He grabbed my shoulders and shook, slamming my back into the wall over
and over again. No treat. The machine had had enough.
He stood back and stared.
He reached into his pocket.
No more quarters. His hand
came out empty. He turned his palm
over and looked at his swollen and bloody knuckles.
His hand hurt. The pain was
evident on his face. He made a
fist as though to strike one final death blow, then lowered both his head and
his hand. Silently he turned and
The machine stood firm.
I have had enough.
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