My mother had two cousins who were, in Southern parlance, Not Right. The offspring of my great aunt May, who apparently had these young 'uns in her 40's, these fellows were poster children for the Idiot Manchild Awards.
My mother grew up with them, and played with them, in that itinerant way families hooked up during their vagabond wanderings throughout south Georgia during the Great Depression. She would see them for weeks on end, then a sawmill job, or a carpenter job would appear, and she would move on, from Waycross to Manor to Baxley to Savannah.
Mom always loved Aunt May, however, and kept in touch, even unto her adulthood.
Now, Gene and Joe, I have to tell you, were brain damaged. My mother always wove a fiction of ill fate, and bad luck. She always told me Joe was brapped by a Buick in the noggin when he was four, and thus became an Idiot Manchild, and Gene learned that behaviour from Joe. Thus we now have two Idiot Manchildren, created by operant conditioning.
I smoked that out as bullshit by 13, of course.
At any rate, I never interacted with the Boys too much, other than to tell you two stories:
1) In 1969 the Senator took us to Titusville to watch the Apollo 11 launch. Made a week of it. As Aunt May and the boys lived in Plant City we trekked over for a day. Nice place they had. Can you say Okie? Bonnie & Clyde po white trash? Yes. That sweet. Anyhoo, the old man had gassed up at a Gulf station, and they had these assemblable lunar modules, the Eagle, made in cardboard. Free with a fill up. We took these things to Aunt May's, and tried to assemble them, and these pieces of cardboard so excited Gene and Joe that they leapt into the fray to help, and utterly destroyed the things.
We were pissed, of course, but of good manners. Bit our tongues. Life moved on.
2) A few years later, when I was in high school, Gene decided he would send my mother cassette tapes in lieu of writing, which he was incapable of performing. The tapes consisted of him watching episodes of the Lone Ranger. You could hear it in the background. He suffered from that whatsit, too, where you repeat the last words of everything, and so as the announcer said "The Lone Ranger!!!!" he would say, quietly, "Ranger...".
Very disconcerting stuff, but funny as hell. We hallooed for hours over it, even as my mother, smothering her mirth, would threaten to beat our collective asses.
I know you want a payoff. Here it is: my aunt Vesta told us, as she visited more often, that as Gene was watching the Lone Ranger episodes he was furiously masturbating. No one apparently could break him of the habit. Like a monkey at the zoo, he was.
Joe was dead at this point, recently, as I recall, Jesus having called his damaged child home. Gene was just paying homage, I reckon.
Fast forward to 1998. I was in Orlando at dance competition with my daughters, when my mother called and said Aunt May had died. I figure she was 177. Now, Plant City is right down the road from Orlando, so I took the Benz and drove to the funeral.
A humble service in a humble Baptist graveyard. And yet who did I see, for the first time in 30 years? Gene! Old now, not in his 40's but his 70's. That put the freaky in my deaky. He apparently understood his momma was gone, about to be buried, and was inconsolable. He wept, he threw the occasional fit, he whined, he sulked. Spittle flew. It was fucking pitiful. He knew me not, of course, but I attempted to console him. He was alternately accepting and recalcitrant.
My mother and Vesta finally walked over and grabbed him, and cooed in his ear, I know not what, but it must have been something from 60 years earlier, and he calmed down, and smiled. He was still weeping, but smiling.
And so, I left. In a state of fugue. I was always tempted to ask my mother what she said, but she would have demurred anyway.
And some things are better left unknown, unsaid.