The blood on the brick frightened him. But when Jesús looked up and saw the broken visage of his brother, hand to bleeding mouth, he became considerably more scared. Jesús had learned long ago that fighting back against his brother’s beatings only resulted in greater brutality, a multitude of blows for every retaliatory strike. Glancing back down at the stone, he marveled at it and how it had made its way into his hand to slam into his brother’s head.
Past where he held the brick at mid-waist, on the ground next to his sneaker, Jesús saw the broken teeth, wet in a puddle of reddened saliva. His brother rising drew his attention next, tears of anger promising the most brutal beating Jesús had ever received. Fear of that, of crossing that line, had caused Jesús to bow to every schoolyard bully since he had started leaving the house.
So Jesús just kept hitting him.