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"Who needs counselors?" asked Ben. His brother Frank stretched the blanket over the window while he smashed it in with a brick. The glass fell inside the building almost silently.

"Not us, man," said Frank. He folded the blanket over the frame to protect them from shards and they scrambled inside.

"Damn straight," said Ben. "We coulda spent thousands of bucks on some fancy-ass shrink, but we worked it out on our own."

"That's right, bro."

Inside, they stood facing each other in street light from the window, two men with ponytails. Ben was a large, fat, bearded man in jeans and a black leather jacket. Frank was a skinny bearded man in a tie-dyed T-shirt and cargo pants.

"You know what we got?" asked Ben.

"No?" asked Frank, who wasn't tracking very well.

"Common ground," said Ben. "I heard somebody say that on the radio once. Common ground."

"Common ground. Awesome, man."

"That's all we need, common ground. You got common ground, you can work anything out. Specially in a family."

"Hey, man, I'm really sorry for all that crap I said."

"And I'm sorry I set your van on fire."

"Hey, it's cool."

They shared a hug.

"So where're we gonna do this?" asked Ben.

Frank looked around vaguely, but the building was dark.

"Maybe up on the stage there, where the altar used to be," Ben suggested.

Frank set off down the center aisle, between the theater seats, and Ben followed him up the steps to the stage. They sat themselves facing each other, cross-legged in the dark.

"This musta been a real pretty little church, before those arts-farts turned it into a pansy theater," said Ben, looking around.

"I can still feel the church vibes," said Frank. "Gives me the heebie-jeebies."

"That's what I mean. Common ground. This is something we can—you know—share."

"Share, man—that's cool. Hey, I love you, brother. I'm sorry I called you a fascist, redneck carrion-eater."

"Bygones will be bygones. I'm sorry I called you a rat's-ass Commie slacker."

"Water under the rainbow, man."

"Well, how we gonna do this?"

"We need, you know, some kind of fire, and something to make it spread. I got fire." Frank pulled a Bic lighter, some Zigzag papers and a baggy full of pot from the pockets of his cargo pants. He began to roll himself a joint with practiced fingers, the first smooth, efficient movement he'd made all evening.

"I've got the stuff to make it spread," said Ben, pulling a bottle of amber liquid in a paper bag from under his jacket. "You know, we won't need all of this. Sin to waste it." He twisted the cap off and took a pull as Frank lit up. "Ground don't get any commoner than this," Ben said.

It was at that moment that they both realized they were not alone.

The police report filed later that night said that the two men received the lacerations that put them in the hospital through trying to jump simultaneously through the same broken window.


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