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He was feeling much better, he said on that last good day. After spending torturous days glued to the bed, soaking his pajamas, soiling his sheets, and retching up his future, he felt like being in the kitchen where all the action was. He wanted to play cards. After all, The Bid was in our blood. Spades was for scrubs, and he was a big dog who never even looked at the porch.

As his eyes scanned the cards, greedily counting books, wagering set-cards, calculating which suits to keep and which to toss back into the kitty, I examined his faded youth. Deep lines creased his brows where mischievous vigor had once dwelled. His flesh hung limply about his cheeks ,listless and sagging, its plumpness now all gone. Never one who would pass a paper bag test, his caramel skin had darkened to mocha. And his hair. What could I say? In the beginning, before we'd known, we'd marveled that our kinky-haired brother had suddenly sprouted the baby fine tresses gently framing his deepening cowlicks. Junior! Boy, how'd your hair get so good? And then we rationalized. Good hair runs on our granmother's side, doesn't it?