PodCastle 214: We Never Talk About My Brother


by Peter S. Beagle.
Read by Malcolm Charles.
Originally appeared in Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, July 2007.

But back then, back then, Esau was just a little way south of a movie star. Couldn’t walk down the street, go out grocery shopping, he’d get jumped by a whole mob of his fans, his groupies. Couldn’t turn on the TV and not see him on half a dozen channels, broadcasting, or being interviewed, or being a special guest on some show or other. I mean everything from big political stuff to cooking shows, for heaven’s sake. My friend Buddy Andreason, we go fishing weekends, us and Kirby Rich, Buddy used to always tease me about it. Point to those little girls on the news, screaming and running after Esau for autographs, and he’d say, “Man, you could get yourself some of that so easy! Just tell them you’re his brother, you’ll introduce them — man, they’d be all over you! All over you!”

No, it’s not a nickname, that was real. Esau Robbins. Right out of the Bible, the Old Testament, the guy who sold his birthright to his brother for a mess of pottage. Pottage is like soup or stew, something like that. Our Papa was a big Bible reader, and there was…I don’t know, there was stuff that was funny to him that wasn’t real funny to anyone else. Like naming me and Esau like he did.

A lot easier to live with Jacob than a funny name like Esau, I guess — you know, when you’re a kid. But I wasn’t all that crazy about my name either, tell you the truth, which is why I went with Jake first time anybody ever called me that in school, never looked back. I mean, you think about it now. The Bible Esau’s the hunter, the fisherman, the outdoor guy — okay, maybe not the brightest fellow, not the most mannerly, maybe he cusses too much and spits his tobacco where he shouldn’t, but still. And Jacob’s the sneaky one, you know? Esau’s come home beat and hungry and thirsty, and Jacob tricks him — face it, Jacob tricks him right out of his inheritance, his whole future, and their mama helps him do it, and God thinks that’s righteous, a righteous act. Makes you wonder about some things, don’t it?

Rated PG