Tmesis (tmee’-sis): Interjecting a word or phrase between parts of a compound word or between syllables of a word.

He threw the Barbie Doll at the wall with such force that it left Barbie’s face print in the plaster. My little sister screamed and I ran outside, I got on my tricycle, and sped down the street. My brother was knocking on the front door of the loony-boingo-bin. He was big for 12 and scared the hell out of people. Violence was always pending on his to-do list—like brushing his teeth, getting dressed, or breathing. My poor Ma spent most of her time hiding in the basement with my little sister. Dad worked 12-hour shifts, 7 days a week, at the GM plant making Chevy station wagons. When he got off work, no matter when it was, my brother would disappear, often with his friend Tucky.

Tucky was 5 years older than my brother, and a poisonous influence. As far as I was concerned he was a psychopath—I wasn’t sure what that meant, but I knew it was connected to crazy. I thought, maybe, that craziness was contagious, and that my brother was catching it from Tucky. The most horrendous thing they did was play catch with dead animals. If there was a road kill nearby, they scraped its flattened dried corpse off the street and tossed it back and forth between them. One day Tucky himself became roadkill, hit by a garbage truck he ran in front of on a dare, seeing how close he could come to the truck without being hit. I saw it all from the curb. It was horrifying and disgusting all at once. When his head hit the pavement, it was like a pumpkin smashed on the sidewalk on Mischief Night—but instead of seeds, there were brains. I threw up all over my shirt. My brother just stood there like a great burden had been lifted from his shoulders.

My brother was bad no more. He learned how to cook, made dinner frequently, and washed the dinner dishes every night. He helped Ma with the laundry, and read our little sister a story every night before tucking her in. She loved “The Cat in The Hat.” Dad and my brother finally crossed paths, actually got to know each other, and Dad would do things with my brother when he could, like play hit the bat, or Poker.

My brother had gone on an overnight “camporee” with his Boy Scout Troop, somewhere along the Passaic River. That night, I was headed to the bathroom to brush my teeth when I glanced into my brother’s bedroom and I saw a little piece of fur hanging from between his bed’s mattress and box spring. Curious, I went into his room and lifted the mattress. There were four dried out flattened animals under his mattress—all roadkills: 2 squirrels, 1 Starling, and 1 toad. I didn’t know what to do.

When he returned from his camporee, I asked him about the flattened animals he was sleeping with. He laughed and told me not to worry. He told me one of his Superman comics had an ad for a mail order taxidermy/leather crafting school. He had sent away for the “kit,” paying for it with his earnings from mowing lawns and his paper route. A couple of days later, he made a hat like Davy Crockett’s out of one of the squirrels, and wore it to school. He was an instant celebrity, and more. He had given the squirrel skin hat glow-in-the-dark button eyes. Everybody wanted to get in the janitor’s closet with him to see them glow.

I was still worried about my brother. Then, a mystery creep showed up in our town: “The Pinkie Chopper.” He wore a balaclava and would follow his victims from the GM plant, chop off their pinkies, and bag them. At first, I thought my brother was involved, but no, he had become a model human being! On the other hand, his room was starting to smell pretty bad, and there was a balaclava hanging from his bedpost.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

Buy a print edition of The Daily Trope! The print edition is entitled The Book of Tropes and is available on Amazon for $9.99.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

Buy a print edition of The Daily Trope! The print edition is entitled The Book of Tropes and is available on Amazon for $9.99.

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