"Older brother." JD instructs. He tells me things with the surety that comes from age and a life of wide (and wild) experiences. My replies go ignored; he's hard of hearing, and anyway what he has to say is much more important (in his opinion) than my comments. As frustrating as that is, I know that Big Brother eye coexists with a warm heart.
"Little brother." Addison and I could spend a whole day at my kitchen table, just drinking and chewing the fat. In fact, we have done just that. Most days, though, are less profligate. I feed him, we have a couple of beers, and then he gets a phone call and dashes off to his girfriend or his buddies. Or, because he loves my house, he'll help with all those little chores that keep it running. Not a bad arrangement.
"Compadre." Clifford and I share a taste in music, in decorating style and in cultural appreciation. He's a fellow storyteller and, like me, an opinionated SOB. In some Star Trekkian parallel universe we were, or are, an item.
"Mr. What-If." Pops, the almost-homeless prince of my Richmond neighborhood, can be either exuberant or obnoxious. I have a hard time understanding him because he's missing a good number of teeth, but he makes himself clear whenever he occasionally hits me up for cash. Why do I consider him one of my guys? Because he keeps me grounded, aware that life is precarious. We're all only a few steps away from living on the street.
"Soulmate." No way am I skipping over Tom. He is all these other men, plus more. I dedicated my novel to him as the person "who has made everything possible." Still true. Still marveling that I met someone so perfect for me. Still in love with him.