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Brother’s Keeper, Directed by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky

Creative Thinking International, Ltd., September 9, 1992 (US)

Starring: Delbert Ward, Lyman Ward, Roscoe Ward, and Bill Ward

Nothingness, driving west on I-70 toward the exit headed south to Ransom, Kansas, did not so much let a wandering mind kill time in hopeless thought as it freed contemplation for Arland Hess, aged forty-eight, to consider manners in which he could snuff the final breath out of his older brother.

The boys never got along. Even throughout high school, when the two passed each other in colloquial hallways between classes, a cold disregard toward the other betrayed any relation. They were strangers, separated by a few months over a year and differing personalities developed over a lifetime. One look under a microscope, however, and there was no forsaking their kinship.

Hank was the oldest. That life brought him to a farm in the middle of nowhere came as little surprise; he was destined for kidnapping by delinquency of some sort. Maybe if his brother had stayed closer to the city and attended college things would have been different. Instead, Hank chose to surround himself in an environment as anonymous as particles of air.

Shoot him.

Slash his throat.

Hang him.

Nope. Kansas had already experienced such tragedy. Arland recalled reading In Cold Blood, while attending college in Miami. If he were to commit murder, he wanted to make a grand impression. In stark contrast to Hank, Arland believed in increased visibility.

To make a name for oneself, one needed to get a degree and live an urban existence, or so Arland espoused. The purest way to live off the land was to own parcels of it: Only fools garden the earth. So, he went to college, earning grades that were hardly worth bragging about. No one asked, anyway, especially once he found his niche in real estate development shortly after graduation. Hank certainly never inquired about Arland’s GPA or line of work. He simply knew that Arland had heavy cash, which is why Hank called out of the blue asking for help in the fall of 2009.

Arland reluctantly wired five hundred dollars at first. Then, a request for a thousand came a few weeks later. A thousand ballooned to twenty-five hundred. And then another call followed by more with needs in varying amounts adding to the tally. All said and done, Arland loaned Hank about fifteen grand over the course of sixteen months.

Expectations were low that the money would ever be repaid. Guilt, over exactly what Arland was unsure, and familial obligation made refusal beside the point. Saying no to a sibling reaching out in need was a whole lot harder to do than ignoring a teenage face in the corridors of Cain High.

Stuff his mouth and gag him with fifty dollar bills!

At least Arland was finally getting creative. Hours behind the wheel of his Lexus was starting to lead to some clarity. This trip was going to be the last. Should everything go according to plan, Arland would never have to find himself far removed from the city, steering through the godforsaken boonies of the lower Midwest again.

A blue rest stop sign tempted Arland to pull off the road, stretch his legs and gather some peace of mind, but he powered on. His brother needed a helping hand, and Arland had the means to a solution. He also had to find the courage to say and do what needed to be done to put an end to Hank’s misery.