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Chapter three

I don’t suppose I’ve ever really fit in anywhere. From early on I’d been told that I could do anything I wanted to. Accusations of cheating and berating out of frustration marked my scholastic career. I’d once read a book where a child had a disease on his back. A salve was applied, and overnight he sprouted wings. He flew through the chilled night air, and as I gazed out of the windows at the poofs in the sky, I exchanged places with the fictional boy. Ahhh! What it would be like. To flow through the clouds not just cut through them so impersonally as we do when we ride airplanes. I pictured flying next to a flock of birds, turning my head to the lead bird, waving and saying “Hi”. The look on his face made me laugh aloud, and as his V formation, he was proudly leading fell asunder, so did that theoretical world. For I really had laughed aloud. So, to Sister Margaret’s office I trekked… once again. In trouble again.

In retrospect I deserved it in their world. The nun was speaking of the details of exactly what a crucifixion entailed. Those tend not to be too humorous. So when she described the agony, that I hadn’t heard as I was flying at the time and not atall sitting in the last row first desk, and laughed; they all gasped at my… insolence.

“Oh Jesus!? Yeahhhh I know that dude. He’s my bud. We go wayyyy back. He’s always got my back, and yes we do actually speak with one another..
Yes we do..
It’s not bullshit, you can’t hear him because you don’t have your ears on stupid ass..
Well maybe he doesn’t like you..

My mother came to get me out of school early that day, and when I described what had actually happened, not their version of it, we went and got an ice cream. I tended to switch between pistachio, black walnut, and the granddaddy of them all… mint chocolate chip.

When my father planted a huge garden in the backyard, I pitched in and planted green beans. They sprouted easily, and was complimented on my green thumb. Knowing now that these are about the easiest plants to grow, that might’ve changed my perspective. As it stood I was a straight up Irish descendant. I could grow anything. So long as my hands touched the seed and the soil that would bear the fruit, it would grow. This gave me confidence to think that perhaps I was indeed special. Then I learned of Gregor Mendel, punit squares, genetics, and the fact that he was A MONK!!!
My little mind found yet another man who loved God and had a green thumb! Things were indeed looking up. But… back to the “special” parts of me.

I never trusted tests all that much, so when I got the results of two separate tests, given for two very different reasons, I claimed neither genius nor insanity.

It was read as follows:
“Mr. and Mrs. Lynch I have good news and bad news.”
Of course they both perked up when they heard my IQ. I laugh thinking about the visions they each had, no doubt, and the enormous responsibility of being the parent of a genius.
“Well we’ve got us a little Mozart on our hands eh?”
“…and for the bad news. Alexander is… casually neurotic.”
“What!” He yelled at the shrink that had calmly spoken the directions of both tests to me before I took them.
“The fuck you mean, casually?”
“Sir… p-p-please allow me to….”
“Johnny, calm down let…”
“Naw fuck that. This asshole tells me my kids crazy and you’re takin’ his side? What the fuck kinda muhtha ah you?”

As my dad went on to berate and belittle everyone there but me (a welcome change) I mentally explored the rug. There seemed to be little squares shaved into the design of it. My mind’s eye zoomed instantly… to… an alien?
What the hell was an alien doing in the design of the lead pediatric psychiatrists rug!? It didn’t matter. It was shaking its’ little fist at me as it drove its’ little alien jeep towards me. Steadily firing its catapult, always falling short, and shaking its’ fist in hatred to me. I must be a god of some kind to this thing. That and he definitely didn’t enjoy my company.

I watched him avoid this chunk of paper on the floor, wondering for a second what it looked like from his perspective. His alien jeep almost tipped over, and I began to hear his alien curse words at me. I laughed aloud, though not a soul could hear me over my father, who was still yelling indignantly at the concept of him bearing an insane child.

I stared at the would be god-killer. Out of the corners of my eyes hooded… shrouded heads popped up and around them the room took on a black mist. Swirling about the shrouded individuals like death itself.

“CHALLENGE A GOD!!!” I yelled as my divine foot reached its’ apex and came thundering down with the force of all the Olympians.
“KILL MEE!!???”
The room had faded by then, and I was standing among the shrouded men (rather THEY were graced by my presence) who were chanting, on what seemed to be a cliffs of sorts. Torches, little matchsticks, lit the way up to my throne.

I stomped the little alien into nothingness, along with his jeep-catapult, his funny alien cursing, and his dreams of killing a God.

I looked about the scape for more daring fools. There were none, but the shrouds. They’d all run away. As I sat back on my throne, exhausted from the excitement of mortal contact. The shrouds faded. No more matchsticks lighting the way to me.

All I saw was my father’s eyes tearing up, and his jaw agape as far as I’d ever seen it. Farther than when Billy Buckner let the ball slip through. Never having seen my dad cry really affected me at that point. He was a rock. The hardest man I’d ever met. Which wasn’t really saying much as I myself hadn’t grown up yet, and would meet and become much harder than he could ever be.

But he was crying. MY DAD!!! So I joined in his lament. Whatever it was I wanted to be there for him to share the agony, and try to pull him out of it or somehow assuage the anguish.

But I was the anguish. I was the agony. He went from as proud as could be that I was called a genius by the head of the most prestigious psych ward in the world, to wanting me to disappear for being insane. As though I had a choice in such matters! Half of him is me after all. Given his proud nature I know which half he’d vote himself attributable to.
“Yeah kid ye got dat crazy gene from ya muhtha..”

“Alex..?” Other than my mom’s sweet voice there was dead silence.

I’d realized I was standing. I apologized, and promptly sat back in my chair.

During such an instance, I’d never really thought much of it. It’d always happened to me. So, when I became a god for a little while I was fully realized within the world; as I always did become readjusted upon my return to this horrid place. Never missing a beat before, during, or after. I’d never really given it any thought. Never really considered myself insane. Insane people chewed on their lips, rocked back and forth seated Indian style, talked to themselves…

Well, ok maybe I considered myself a little off. Eccentric even. When I learned about the zodiac, and the fact that I was born on the first day of Aquarius, it seemed to fit well. From early on I’d noticed people had inadequacies. Little things they did to themselves or to others that made feel better about their own self. My little mind couldn’t really wrap itself around such things.

The blizzard of ‘78 for example. I was three years old, and had walked on snow before. That wasn’t so much the big deal, nor was the cold making my breath into visible fog in an instant. It was the fact that I couldn’t see beyond it. I couldn’t see the highlands outside the city. I couldn’t see…

That was when it hit me. At the ripe old age of three. The fact that I was so tiny. A sense of smallness suddenly invaded me, and never really left. As I learned about the cosmos, and how small we humans really are with our inadequacies, our jealousies, our hatreds… We always seemed so small and insignificant. So it occurred to me very very early on to ask myself why I was here. Why was this little frail thing so loved, trusted, feared…

Naturally I sought answers where one does when one is little. In family. Since my father seemed to know everything (little did I know), he’d always said the answers lay within. He took to quoting, or rather misquoting as it turns out, philosophers, thinkers, great people in general. Socrates, the bible, Abraham Lincoln, John Lennon… the list goes on.

So, the answer lay within dearest Father?
… and you know what?
He was right.

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The following comments are for "Chapter Three (Requiem Eternum)"
by Robert Walker

great so far
I like what you have done with Rowan so far. He is believable and interesting. There are a few minor places in your plot that I could pick on, but they are extremely minor. This reminds me of Catcher in the Rye, with the diffrence being that I actually am enjoying your story. I look forward to more.

( Posted by: brickhouse [Member] On: June 25, 2009 )

thank you
Thank You Sir. Feel free to comment about any portion of it. Actually, please do because it only helps hone the edge right? As to Catcher in the Rye, I know it's a great American classic etc, but I never actually read that one. Maybe I should.
Thanks again, and there will definitely be more coming.

( Posted by: Robert Walker [Member] On: June 25, 2009 )

friends don't let friends Catcher in the Rye. I took the time to read it because it was touted as a classic, and I was infuriated because it was such a singular waste of my time! If you must, read the first chapter, and close the book, satisfied that you have gotten all that you will from it.
As for yours. Your story is going somewhere. I don't know where yet. Perhaps you don't either. Still, Rowan is easy to relate to, and with all of his talent I am sure he will accomplish some things.
His dad is hard to believe for me, because he is an asshole most of the time, but at other times he seems like the typical concerned parent. Maybe he is both, and therein lies the paradox, but it seems unbelievable to me, especially since Rowan feels such resentment for him.
The part about basic training was also hard to swallow, because it is hard to imagine drill instructors (A) stepping out of character and (b) being incapable of performing their own obstacle courses, if required to do so.
Finally, the psych evaluation. On the one hand, I think you presented it masterfully, because everything leads up to it. On the other hand, you did such a good job of showing (not telling) that it is totally unexpected, so I had to connect some dots there that other readers may not necessarily connect. Your choice. I like the subtlety as it is, but others may not.
The greatest strength you have with this piece so far is Rowan's perspective. You never waver from his point of view, which is necessarily limited; this adds a dimension that I like a lot.

( Posted by: brickhouse [Member] On: June 25, 2009 )

re: Brickhouse
Preferences differ. I can't *stand* Great Expectations myself, but I recognize that it works for some people. And I'm not sure even that 'it works for some people' is required for something to be meaningful. I've never heard of *anyone* coming back from J.G. Ballard's 'The Atrocity Exhibition' with satisfaction. But does that make it a waste of time?

Oh well.

( Posted by: Beckett Grey [Member] On: June 25, 2009 )

Apologies that it's taken a couple days to get back to you. Life keeps me too busy these days. To address your very welcomed comments:
I've asked around and not too many people have read Catcher in the Rye. I wouldn't look too much into that as I live in rural ALabama. The Dad's character will be developed little by little as the story rolls, or falters haven't made up my mind lol. The boot camp part wasn't boot camp at all. That was something that actually happened in my life, and it was in the Fleet Marine Force. You are absolutely correct in that DIs know everything they're doing.
I do appreciate the compliments about the psych eval. I know the way I write can sometimes make it tough on the reader, but... the way I see it if anything I write sells it'll be worth the read. In other words, I'd rather create one opus that is a measuring stick (To kill a Mockingbird) than a library full of crap (Twilight). At the same time I've written stuff like that, but when I go back and read it I don't like it. So it goes into teh crap I've written folder, instead of the books folder. Kepp the comments coming and I'll keep the fingers flying. Well, in truth, even if you all don't I'll still keep the fingers flying.
I hope this addressed your concerns and questions. Thanks again to all for your comments.

( Posted by: robert walker [Member] On: June 27, 2009 )

I just wanted to say
This is an interesting piece. I enjoyed it!


( Posted by: OchaniLele [Member] On: June 28, 2009 )

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