Cousin Butch (River of Names)

“I loved my Cousin Butch. He had this big old head, pale thin hair, and enormous, watery eyes. All the cousins did, though Butch’s head was the largest, his hair the palest. I was the dark-headed one. All the rest of the family seemed pale carbon copies of each other in shades of blond, though later everybody’s hair went brown or red and I didn’t stand out so. Butch and I stood out then – I because I was so dark and fast, and he because of that big head and the crazy things he did. Butch used to climb on the back of my Uncle Lucius’s truck, open the gas tank and hang his head over, breathe deeply, strangle, gag, vomit, and breathe again. It went so deep, it tingled in your toes. I climbed up after him and tried it myself, but I was too young to hang on long, and I fell heavily to the ground, dizzy and giggling. Butch could hang on, put his head down into the tank and pull up a cupped palm of gas, breathe deep and laugh. He would climb down roughly, swinging down from the door handle, laughing, staggering, and stinking of gasoline. Someone caught him at it. Someone threw a match. “I’ll teach you.”
Just like that, gone before you understand.”

Dorothy Allison – “River of Names”