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The Brothers

Martin Hooijmans | Lars de Ruyter

Alfred was in tears. So was Ed. His tears were not tears of grief, however. They were tears of utmost joy. For years, it had been his dream to tear down one of his brother’s masterpieces. Today it was coming true. As a child he had simply used his little toy hammer to destroy Alfred’s wooden block structures. Now, as a grown-up and the city’s most renowned demolisher, he had positioned the best wrecking balls around the structure, polished for the occasion. They would pummel the red brick walls for a while, just for show. The explosives, placed carefully in the building’s foundations, would then tear through each and every piece of support, a literal final blow. To Ed, it was a beautifully orchestrated opera. To Alfred, the pinnacle of senseless waste.

He looked up at the office building. Twenty years ago, its stunning red appearance, its massive round windows and its majestic wooden entrance had fascinated the world of architecture. Companies had paid fortunes to occupy it, or they had commissioned Alfred to design something even grander. Two decades later, a new review had marked it hopelessly outdated, boring and only befitting to squatters, who had been eager to move in after the businessmen left. Their stay had not left much intact of the building’s interior. The police sweeping in to clean them out even less. The exterior however, the true mark on the city, had been intact, and would have been for years had the soil not been purchased by a multinational with a love for young promising designers. Alfred’s red wonder would be replaced by a cold, modern spire made solely of shiny metal and glass. He had protested against it, but had found the now homeless squatters to be his only allies, and truth was that not many people cared for their opinion. So he had lost his case, and to top it off his awful brother had been assigned to perform the demolition.

Ed went up to his brother and patted him on the back. He loved destruction, especially in this case, but he still felt sympathy for his brother. Twenty years ago he had shared the joy, had drunk the same champagne, and his feelings had been genuine. His brother had hit the big time, which meant that his buildings would be worth destroying one day, and that had been worth celebrating. Nobody in the demolition industry fought about the little suburban residence contract. Everyone wanted the solid, the famous landmarks that would truly test their equipment’s ability. As Alfred had a portfolio of creation, Ed had one of destruction. And today’s project would be the perfect addition.

“I hope you’re happy with yourself,” came Alfred’s shaky voice.

“I am,” Ed answered, and once more patted his brother on the back. The latter shrugged off the friendly gesture, then burst out in pure anger.

“How can you be?” Alfred shouted, wheeling on his brother. “You are breaking down my building, my dream! How can that possibly bring you happiness?”.

“Because this is my dream,” Ed calmly retaliated. “You create the future. I create space for it.”

“But then why are you so overly happy today?” Alfred threw back.

Ed wanted to answer, but then the signal was given. In perfect symmetry, the wrecking balls crashed into the solid walls, creating a cloud of dust and a deafening roar that drowned out any other sound.

“This is how I see it!” Ed shouted. “Twenty years ago, you were celebrating, you had created something grand! Now the circle is round, and I get to celebrate for doing what I do best! And twenty years after this, another duo, just like us, will witness something like this. And twenty years after that another! It’s not the end of the world, it’s the start of something new! Another man’s chance! And you know why I’m so happy?”.

The explosion ended the orchestra. The building came down cleanly, throwing up another cloud of dust. As it settled, Ed grabbed Alfred by the shoulders.

“Because I’m proud of you, little brother. It is an honor to work on your building. Think about that.”

Alfred would. And it touched him. He would go on to design another series of breathtaking buildings, no longer wasting his time on what had been. His gaze was on the horizon.

And whatever he created, as always his brother would be there to clean it up.

About Martin Hooijmans

Martin Hooijmans is a writer, a traveler and the founding editor of Story Shack. He has a profound love for storytelling and a mind overflowing with ideas. Currently, he's based in Munich and working as a SEO and front-end developer. Also check out his new project: relgrowth

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