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Haunted Sideshow

Dustin Putman

My Best Friend, My Brother
By Dustin Putman

    Dustin and RudyBy the very nature that you have a brother, you love them unconditionally. You may occasionally get into a meaningless spat with them, or you may not always see eye to eye about one thing or the other, but all of that doesn't really matter in the whole scheme of things. What really matters is that you are forever connected to this person—not just by blood or by family or by genes, but through an inexplicable bond that is lasting and true.

    My brother, Rhudel Putman (or "Rudy" as nearly everyone called him), and I had all of these things, and so much more. It is something that cannot be written about and done complete justice to, because this "thing" we had came directly from our hearts and into each other's lives.

    For as long as I can remember, I have had a deep passion for movies. In recent years, it has lead me to writing screenplays, directing and editing my own short student films, and carrying a freelance job as an Internet film critic that grows bigger and more successful by the day. I owe all of this to one person—my brother, Rudy.

    Rudy and I shared a deep and always-compassionate friendship that transcended our ten-year age difference. From the time I was three or four to the time I was sixteen and got my driver's license, Rudy and I had a ritual every Saturday that we followed religiously. We would go to Video Villa and, later, Blockbuster and Wonder Book & Video to rent movies, and then come home and watch them together. Horror movies were our favorite, and even as a child just beginning elementary school I can remember Rudy and I renting and devouring such films as Friday the 13th and Halloween. He adored horror movies, as well as every other genre of film imaginable, and because he loved them, so did I.

    Whatever Rudy liked or did, I did with him as a child. Because he was my big brother, I looked up to him, and admired every last thing about him. Our shared adoration for movies did not stop with simply renting them. Every Friday we would go to the movie theater together to see whatever started that particular week. It didn't matter what movie it was; we saw them all. Because I wasn't old enough to have a job, of course, Rudy would use his own money (and he didn't have a lot of it) to pay his and my way into the movies. He would also buy me Raisinets or popcorn or an Arctic Blast or whatever else it was that I wanted to eat or drink at the concession stand, and he never once complained about spending his cash on me. He wanted to do it, and for anyone who was close to Rudy knows, he was as generous and kind a person as you are ever likely to meet. Rudy would do whatever was possible to make sure the ones he loved so dearly—his parents, his brother and sister, his niece and nephews, his grandmother, the rest of his family, and his friends—were happy. His heart and his soul were boundless.

    When I was seven or eight, Rudy and I decided to start rating every movie we saw—first on a scale of one to ten, and later on a scale of four stars. On our computer, we created files together where we would list every movie we saw and give our respective ratings for them. We spent hours together talking about movies, and even tried to write a book together when I was only about ten and he was twenty. Later, as I grew older, Rudy and I confided in each other about more personal things, things that you would only be willing to tell the person you trusted most.

    By the time I started at American University in 2001, Rudy and I did not hang out as much as we used to. I commuted to school, had a heavier workload, and now had a significant other, all of which left me with less time at home and less time to spend with him. By this point, Rudy had also gotten a new passion: video games. Because I was not as much into video games as I once was when I was little (Rudy and I also always used to play Nintendo, GameBoy, and Super Nintendo together), and he was not quite as heavily into movies as I still was, our interests somewhat parted. This changed nothing, however, in the way I felt, and still feel, for him.

    As much as any family member can possibly be, Rudy was my soul mate. He shaped who I am today. And if I can take comfort in only one thing, it is in knowing that he knew how much he meant to me and how much I greatly admired and looked up to him when he left this world at 8:50 p.m. tonight, June 11, 2003.

    Rudy, I love you, and always will. You are forever my best friend, and my brother.

    — Dustin