birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Yeah, Right

“Don’t tell them, lie,” I urged my brother, meaning our parents. It’s what I did to stay out of trouble. But not, J. J. He couldn’t help but tell on himself and often on me. His conscience was huge and tender. Our mother knew just how to prod a confession out of it. She’d wake him up, hustle him into her Bronco and drive him to the hospital where she had arranged for him to take a piss test. 

Afterwards, she take him to Jill’s drive-thru and buy him some burgers and tell him how concerned she was about him. What would Jesus think of what he was doing to his bodily temple? And there, in the same drive-thru where our parents met, J.J. would spill the beans. Yes, he had smoked pot (which might appear on the drug test) and dropped acid (which never would). 

When the drug-test would come back clean, I’d give him grief. “Why say anything? You could have gotten away with it.” 

“It felt better to get off my chest. I got Mom to buy me some burgers at Jill’s. Can you believe that Mom buying burgers? Now she doesn’t care if I eat meat.” 

“Just leave me out of it.” I pleaded.

And usually he did. 

One day he found an out. He had walked to town. An eight mile-walk. He found Billie Jack and some acid. Spent the afternoon exploring the lakeside park. He called mom to pick him up and came home tripping hard. 
When she asked him what he had been doing he said flatly, “dropping acid with Billie Jack.” He said it so flatly she didn’t believe him.  

A couple of weeks later Mom asked what did y’all do when me and your daddy were out of town. JJ would say, “We had a party, smoked pot, and drank until we passed out. Three people stayed the night.” 

Mom just laughed and said “yeah, right” and then ask why the water was coming out of the faucet so strangely. I told her that it had been like that all weekend before JJ could explain our need for a pipe screen. He could have his confession, but I needed the cover.


The Last Time