Moral Vacuum Cleaner

My brother was always rather brilliant. By the time he was two weeks old, he had developed an oral suction system to get the maximum amount of breast milk with the minimum effort. Apparently he tried to teach this to me, but my mental growth had been normal and I kept going ‘buh’ and spitting out the nipple. Or at least, that’s what he told me when we were ten years old.

Till we were twelve, he used to do a lot of experiments that I would grudgingly ‘assist’ him in. “Annalise,” he once said, “you’re helping the cause of science,” while sheepishly applying ointment on the giant yellow boil I had developed in the middle of my forehead.

A few days ago, he crashed back into my life, moments after accidentally parking his car in my front lawn, on top of my garden chairs.

“I have developed,” he said while rooting through my fridge for food and beer, “a thing called a moral vacuum cleaner. It is constructed on the same principles as moral vacuums, i.e., none. And you can calibrate it to suck morals out of people. Bad morals, good morals, your choice.

“And as of yesterday,” he said, turning to me, giving me a manic, mayo-covered grin, “it works.”

TO BE CONTINUED.*

* But not here.