“When you were born, I didn’t know you. And I told the nurse I didn’t know you, and she laughed and said I was silly, of course I didn’t know you because you were just born. She didn’t understand. I knew both of your sisters. As soon as they were placed into my arms, I knew them. But you. You I didn’t know.”
That has haunted me all of my life.
Why the hell would a mother say something like this to her son, even if it were true?
When I was a kid, I used to pretend that I wasn’t really her son. Maybe I was a changeling, and that’s why she didn’t know me. Or some hospital nurse was switching wrist bracelets on the newborns or something.
But as I got older I saw my uncles and my grandfather in my face. I had their stocky, solid build; even when I was slender, I was, somehow, stocky. I had their nose, their jawline. So I couldn’t keep questioning my genetic heritage, at least.
I’m a genius, too. I’m not boasting when I say that. It’s just the plain and simple truth. I’ve corrected college professors in class. I never graduated from college; I never had the money to. That doesn’t mean anything, though. All a college diploma means is that you had enough money, enough time, and enough patience to sit there and be force-fed whatever “the man” wants you to think. Then you regurgitate it back in the form of exams, essays, projects, whatever. After you’ve taken the approved number of classes and–more importantly–paid the requisite sum of money, you get that piece of paper that says you’re now somebody. I don’t need that piece of paper to tell me I’m somebody.
I’ve written love poems so beautiful that the recipient told me she wanted them to be buried with her. I’ve written incredible books that far too few people have read. Someday I’ll get a big publisher, and then people will know who I am.
People tell me I’m lazy. They don’t know anything about me. I work hard. I’ve been a security guard, a supervisor over a team of security guards, a long-distance truck driver, and other things they consider unimportant. What they don’t realize is all those “dead-end jobs,” as they call them, give me time to think. Time to dream. Time to imagine.
Some nights when I’m all alone on the interstate, just me in the cab of my truck and the radio buzzing to let me know there are other people out there somewhere, I look out at the earth. And it’s strange to me. I don’t know it. And I can’t help but wonder if somehow my childhood fantasies of being a changeling have some basis in reality. Hell. Maybe I am an alien. Maybe some alien mother didn’t want her son, so she found some pregnant woman on earth and did some alien mojo and there I was, not fitting in anywhere.
Because I don’t, you know. Fit in, I mean. There’s not a place for me. My family doesn’t want me. They say they love me, but they don’t want me around. And I can understand why, I guess. I just want to write, and they want me to work, too. Money. Everything comes down to money, doesn’t it? Anyway, my sisters went to college and graduated. They’re writers, too. And they have their 8-5 kiss-ass jobs, so I guess they think they’re better than me. They hate it when I brag all the time. I hate it, too, but it just sort of slips out of my mouth. I know they’ve achieved more by the way the world counts success, and I think I have to show them up or something. And then they give each other these looks that they think I don’t see. I see them, all right, and it hurts. And my big sister gives me this condescending advice. Okay, she probably doesn’t mean to be condescending, but it comes across that way. Get a steady job. Focus on the writing when you get off at the end of the day. We’d all love to take a year off and have nothing to do but write, but we’ve got to face reality. Well, you know what I say to that? Fuck reality.
I’ve tried marriage, and that’s never worked out either. Nothing ever seems to work out for me. What’s the point in tying yourself down to one woman, if that woman can’t be bothered to tie herself down to you?
This world’s a damned lonely place for an alien like me.
This is some character work I did, based on how I imagine my brother might be feeling a lot of the time. Regardless of what he thinks, we do love him. I probably do come off sounding like a condescending ass sometimes. I just want what’s best for him. I guess I have to stop and remind myself that each person has to figure out what’s best.
And Pat, wherever you are, I love you. Happy birthday, bro.