My life has been a series of misadventures and misunderstandings. If there is a way for things to become fucked up and wrong I witnessed it from the very first breath. I seemed to always find myself in the middle of a cyclone of unfortunate happenings. I was born different. From my first moments it should be been clear. I was a breach birth. That defined me. Going through life backwards.
These events started when I was just a child and I opened my mouth to ask my mother a simple question about the sun. She turned back to me and asked me to repeat myself and didn’t notice the truck that had a blow out in front of us. The world became a cacophony of horrible noises and glass and metal tearing through each other and when I could open my eyes again I saw my mother staring vacantly into space with a shard of glass through her throat. I never spoke another word after that for as far as I could imagine, the rest of my life. It wasn’t but when you are a kid forever is fluid.
I traveled around the country seeing different specialists about my condition for the next four years. They all said the same thing to my grieving father, “the boy is fine physically. There is no damage to his larynx or vocal cords. It is all in his head.” Believe me when I say that you can only be told that it is all in your head for so long before you get really pissed off. I wanted to scream at them that the last time I spoke a single word my mother ate twelve inches of glass. But that didn’t seem to carry the weight of importance that my inadvertent speech could cause so I just sat there and watched the fish in the aquarium or birds out the window until they finally let me leave.
It was two weeks after the last appointment with a specialist that my father are a bottle of prescription pills in the bathroom after tucking me in for bed. The pills were for depression. Is that ironic?
The next morning I realized that ten years old was too young to be an orphan. It seemed like it was a little late to complain to anyone, besides not speaking makes complaining a bit of a bitch.
So the people from the state came and decided that my condition and the fact that I had witnessed the death of one and found the corpse of another parent made me a prime candidate for a state run home. If I had spoken to them at any point, maybe things would have been different, but I didn’t and they weren’t so I was effectively fucked. And it was off to the home with me.
The home wasn’t horrible like you see in cute foreign films or in any Disney film. The kids weren’t all loveable delinquents that were misunderstood and would rally together to save themselves and the friends they made there. In fact I would say that anytime you see that in a movie you should stand up and scream it is all bullshit to anyone who will listen. I would but I don’t talk to people so I am out of the picture. No this was not a picturesque school filled with singing and laughter, but it also wasn’t the kind of place run by a horrible headmistress who forced us all into slavery to turn a profit. It was a state run home for troubled children and I definitely was not the most the troubled here.
My first day in this new home was spent trying get away from people who automatically assume that because you don’t speak you can’t hear. Nothing is more annoying then listening to someone act like you are a mongoloid because you haven’t answered a question they screamed into your ear. It was within my first couple of days here I made my sign that said ‘not deaf, just doesn’t like to talk’.
I was introduced to my roommate shortly after arriving and I don’t know which of us was more taken aback. He stood in the doorway of the room glaring at me through eyebrows that nearly hung down past his eyes. His entire head looked like the standard form of the homo- erectus I saw on the discovery channel. Thick brow that showed signs of sluggish thought and a horrid under bite that screamed to the world troglodyte, those were my first impressions of Stanley Deal. I cannot say what his first impressions of me were, since upon being informed I was his new roommate, Stanley screamed in anguish and vanished down the hall. So I stood there watching this junior relic of the ice age scream and run away from me as the interns took me into the room and showed me to my bed.
I silently surveyed the room and set my bags down on my new bed, but when I turned to see if my tour was going to continue the interns were gone. I have that affect on people. So I just sat down on my new bed and rummaged through my bags until I found the book I had started on the lone ride to the home and continued on at page eighty one.
Eventually Stanley came back to the room, slowly with nostrils flared as if taking in my unfamiliar scent I saw him make his way into the room. He stopped and stared at me from the doorway and I decided to make a good impression on him and flashed what I hoped to be my most winning smile. Apparently it was not exactly my most winning smile because Stanley took one look and began to scream and run back down the hallway. This was going to be a royal a pain in the ass and I didn’t even know what a royal pain in the ass was yet. I had been here less then three hours and I was left to my own devices in my new room and my roommate could barely look at me without screaming in fear and running away. Not so good for blossoming self esteem I can say without the slightest hesitation. As I sat there reading and wondering if I needed to leave a small pile of offerings to whatever god of fire or sky Stanley and his indigenous peoples worshipped the intercom seated above the door blared into life.
“Good afternoon children, this is Dr. Staph reminding all that dinner will be served in fifteen minutes in the main hall. I would also like to take a moment to announce the arrival of our new student in room 6-b, young Mister Eddie Winkle. Fifteen minutes in the main hall until dinner, that is all.”
I eventually found my way down to the main hall and was greeted by the silent echo only a room full of children can make so unbearable. I stood in the doorway and felt more than saw the eyes of three hundred students wash over me. I was a little nervous about flashing the winning smile since Stanley felt it horrifying so I just stood there and gazed across the room. It was what I assume a typical room full of children would look like, all races and sizes, some cute some ugly, all silently staring. I decided that I had been the spectacle long enough and made my way to the line at the counter to get my meal when the first array of mashed potatoes hit my head. It wasn’t long before every plate of food had made its way onto my body and the laughter of the children threatened to overwhelm me. Then the interns came and demanded that everyone stop and I mustered up my dignity and went back to my room, dripping various meats and potatoes down the hall. This was not the way I had expected life was going to go for me. But maybe the next day would be better.
It wasn’t. In fact everyday for the next few weeks went remarkably similar. Stanley would see me and begin to scream and run, the other kids would throw their food at me and I would end up in my room reading in silence. Twice a day the interns would take me to see Dr. Staph and he would try to convince me to say something. I wouldn’t and he would grow ever more frustrated and I would go back to my room and scare Stanley and read some more. At about the first month point the kids stopped throwing food and began to just ignore me, which was leaps and bounds better.
Eventually Stanley stopped screaming and running, he would just sit up in his bed and stare at me as if I was going to attack at an moment. I learned not to make any quick movements or he would begin to shake and tears would form in the corners of his eyes. It was quite disturbing, and more than any eight year old should have to face but I had seen worse so I didn’t bat an eye. Except at Stanley when I was in a particularly bad mood, but that would just start him into the whole screaming and running thing and even that grew old after a while.
My second month brought new excitement to the home as schooling began and I was forced to sit through classes with the other kids. The teachers didn’t call on me because Dr. Staph had told them I wouldn’t answer, and the other children spoke at me instead of to me. Somehow the story of what happened to my parents began to circulate throughout the home and rumors that I had in fact killed my parents instead of being the direct cause of their deaths made everyone leery of me even more. I was fine with it all though, what difference would it have made if it angered me? I would not have said a word in my defense anyway. Besides I liked how they all backed away when I walked past.
I never would have wanted to be the most popular kid in school anyway. I just did my homework and found that I was quite good at English (ironic isn’t it?) and math and sciences. I didn’t really care to draw so I was staring down the gun of a C in art class but that meant nothing to me. It wasn’t that I couldn’t draw very well; it was more like I didn’t care to. The doctors had always asked me to draw for them so they could examine and dissect the pictures in hope of finding the miracle cure to the illness I didn’t even have. I was growing a bit nervous though, the bad luck that had always followed me around like a pet hadn’t reared its ugly head recently. I knew it was coming but I couldn’t tell which direction it was coming from.
Stanley finally warmed up to me in the third month of my stay. I have to admit it was nice to finally have someone talk to me out of choice instead of being forced to. I found that the Neolithic look was more of a horrid curse at birth and that he was actually gentle and caring. He had read most of the books he could get his hands on and began to read the ones I had brought with me. He would tell me stories about the other children and how they always picked on him due to his unfortunate face.
He had been at the school for the last six years, ever since his ‘parents’, two gay men from Idaho who adopted him from his crack addicted mother in Cleveland were arrested for marijuana farming and accusations of child pornography. He swore they never took pictures of him and he says he never knew about the pot. I found it interesting that life would throw curveballs at two young men like us. It was as if there was some cosmic balance that had to be maintained and we were the comic foils of the universe.
During one of his open-heart moments he explained that he ran and screamed whenever he saw me at the beginning because I looked like the federal agent that arrested his fathers. I wrote on a piece of paper what really happened to my parents and why I didn’t talk. He read what I wrote and looked at me kind of strangely before shrugging his shoulders and dismissing it all as normal. We were instantly best friends from that moment on.
The beginning of my fourth month at the home brought on the challenges of outside physical education. The dreaded time of picking sides and the knowledge that no one likes you and you will be the last one picked hung over mine and Stanley’s heads those days. The worst part of it was that while no one liked Stanley, they liked me even less. The fat kid with bottle thick lens was picked before us and made to feel more like the star because of it. It was during the second of these traumatizing events that my luck caught up to me. We were playing kick ball and the teams were almost decided except for me and Stanley. The captains in charge of picking were young and talented and neither wanted us at all. Finally they began to argue amongst each other over who was better, the caveman or the parent killer. I guess killing your parents ranks just below being a step back in the evolutionary chart because Stanley was the first of the last to get picked. He mouthed a silent sorry at me as he hustled over to his team and I slowly made my way to mine.
We were on defense first so I was delegated to play way back in the outfield. Past the other outfielders and almost past the home run line. Needless to say it wasn’t the place where the action took place unless getting the balls kicked nearly out of the county was the desired action. I was basically just there to fetch the balls no one else wanted to run after. It sucked the sweat off of a dog’s ball sack. But after what only felt like an eternity, we were up to bat.
I, of course was last to bat in the rotation, which was fine. I could sometimes make it three innings without even coming up to the plate. But this game was different, we were on fire. Everyone up was able to get on base if not round two or three of them. Poor Stanley was getting a workout chasing after all the long balls that were kicked. It almost seemed like a set up. And then it was my turn to kick. Normally I was greeted with laughter as I stepped to the plate, but this time there was pure silence. The pitcher wound his arm back and threw the soccer ball underhand with surprising force and I went to kick it but caught the side of foot and it went foul. Then the taunting came. They called me all sorts of names but it didn’t bother me. The second pitch came low and fast but hit a stick and bounced up and I caught it with the top of my shoe and it too went foul. Now the taunting reached a louder peak, and I noted that my team was in on it too. I just shrugged it off and waited for the next pitch and ran and hit it with all the strength I could muster. It was a zinger straight at the pitcher who ducked out of the sheer surprise of it. It flew fast hard past second base and then past the outfielder. I watched as time slowed down and the ball came rushing at Stanley’s head. Stanley wasn’t watching the game at all, just standing out there staring at a butterfly that was fluttering around his face. He must have heard the wind whistling as the ball drew closer because he picked the absolute wrong time to look up and see the ball crash directly into his face. There was a spray of blood as the ball bounced against and broke his nose and a shrill scream as he fell back clutching his face. The entire class stopped and stared at him as he cried and bled in the far outfield. Then they turned and looked at me as I stared in disbelief at what had just occurred.
We stood in silence for the longest time before someone decided to yell, “Winkle tried to kill his best friend just like he did his parents!” it didn’t take long before the chant was picked up by the whole group. Stanley finally regained some control and just stared at me form his distant spot. The look on his face will never leave my mind- it rivals that of dad on the floor with vomit on his shirt and mom with the glass jutting out.
I panicked and ran away form the chanting and the terrible look on Stanley’s face. I ran towards the home and locked on to the only door I could see. I prayed it would open, that it would be unlocked so I could escape the torment. To my surprise it was unlocked and I pulled it open and ducked inside. I slid down to the ground with my back against the door and tears traveled down my face. How could I do that to Stanley? He was the only one who would even talk to me. I had to find a way to make it up to him. I gathered my wits and forced the tears to stop their steady stream and looked around the room I was in.
It was the janitors closet and it was strictly off limits. I got up and began to look inside the bins and tool boxes that littered the room. There was nothing interesting, especially not interesting enough to warrant the off-limits rule. Then I saw the door on the back wall. Hoping it was some kind of secret exit I walked up to it and slowly turned the knob to open it. From inside the room I heard strange noises, something between a grunt and a moan and I edged the door open a little more.
And there I saw the most disturbing thing I would ever witness and utter my first words in six years. At first I was confused by the sight in front of me; there were three or four barrels filled with that pink kitty litter looking stuff the janitors use to clean up vomit from the floors, and sitting up on top of one of them was my math teacher Ms. Blandish. The weird noises I had heard seemed to be coming from her. I crouched low and circled around the room to see what was happening. When I got around the first row of racks I found a space in which I had a direct look at her from the front. I cannot explain how horrifying this was to me. An eight year old should never have to see this sight. She was sitting on top of one of the barrels with her left leg propped up on the barrel right next to her. I didn’t understand what was going on at first, all I could see was that for some reason her skirt was pulled up it seemed like her panties were dangling from her right foot. The look on her face seemed like a cross between a grimace of pain and an odd sort of pleasure. Her right hand was frantically moving up and down and I had to crouch down and peer through another shelf to see what it was doing.
When I looked through the half empty cans of spray paint and rust remover I surprised myself and said, “Oh fuck no. No, no, no, this is not fucking happening.” I must have surprised her too, because the sudden motion that was pushing the vibrating carrot looking object in and out of her groin stopped suddenly.
I want to stop this right now and erase the look of desire from your faces. You are imagining that there was this gorgeous nubile woman masturbating on a barrel of pink kitty litter. You can see this hot teacher with perfect legs and a well shaven vaginal area at the brink of orgasm. Her lace covered pink thong hooked over one of her long legs, and the garter going form the white stocking to the unseen belt. It wasn’t like that at all. She was three hundred and fifty pounds and the underwear hanging from her leg looked like a car tarp with a long brown streak running up the back. Her flabby legs looked like a roadmap of Illinois with the deep blues veins and stretch marks that traveled up them. There were two quivering mounds of what can only be described as cottage cheese shaking with the vibration that guarded what looked like the beard off of the guitarist for ZZ Top. It was not only disturbing and disgusting, but enough to cause a small boys penis to climb back inside and pray that skin grows over where it hung. It was the event that would cause a young man to enter the priesthood if the vision hadn’t clarified the cold hard truth that there was no God.
And there we stood staring at each other; my eyes filled with disgust and shock, hers filled with shame and the terrifying knowledge that she had been caught doing the nastiest of nasties. And through it all the vibrating carrot like device continued to purr like a kitten. Any thoughts of Stanley and his broken nose were wiped from my mind. Any thoughts besides burning my eyes out of my head were driven from my mind as realization hit me. Stanley and I had overheard the older kids talking and had a rough idea of what the female genital was like, but we had never imagined it was so vile. So we stood staring at each other and she finally broke the silence that my first words in six years had already cracked. “You spoke.”
I just nodded and she stared for a moment. “But we were told you never talked to anyone. Not even your friend Stanley.” I just nodded again and looked back down at the hairy monster that was glistening at me. She followed my eyes and remembered what I had walked into. With all the dignity a three hundred and fifty pound woman just caught masturbating could muster; she slid off of the barrel and pulled her skirt down to cover the wildebeest. I pointed down to her right foot and she quickly pulled her panties back up. “You are going to tell the doctor what you saw in here aren’t you?” I just stared at her again before nodding that I would not tell the doctor about this. She looked relieved and waddled as quickly as she could out the door. I stood there for a moment and tried to erase the image burned into my retinas and heard a strange noise; lying on the bucket of kitty litter was the carrot thing and it was still shaking. “This did not just fucking happen,” I heard myself say aloud. Then I grabbed a handful a rags and covered up the horrible stinky carrot.
In a matter of weeks my whole life made a change for the better. Stanley wasn’t pissed off at me, and math class became the easiest (if not most disgusting class) we had. No one knew for sure what had happened in that closet, but the stories began to circulate that I had caught a teacher doing something inappropriate and they were taking it easy on me because of it. The other boys that lived in our hall began to come to our room, just to talk and maybe find out what had occurred. Stanley and I became very popular.
I eventually began talking on a regular basis and with a few minor embellishments turned the negative into positive. By simply replacing Ms. Blandish with Ms. Caruthers, the incredibly gorgeous nurse, I was soon the hero of the hall. And for a small fee of ten bucks the guys could touch the magic carrot. Sure it was disgusting, but what they didn’t know didn’t hurt them. Besides it was excellent payback for the way they had previously treated us. And every single time one of the boys would lovingly raise the carrot, Stanley and I would look away.
Something changed between us. I don’t know if it was seeing my teacher flicking the bean or the fact that Stanley was the first person I felt a connection with that didn’t die. I realized I was falling love. I hid it from him. Thought I did at least, through out our remaining time at the school for wayward misfits. Afraid if I brought it up to him he would reject me or some terrible accident would occur. Neither of us bothered with the ladies. Me because I was already in love. Him because he was Stanley and that wasn’t his way. He was still shy.
A couple weeks before graduation I finally broke down. I couldnt let it go unsaid. The thought of school ending and us never seeing each other was too much to handle. We sat talking one night, random stupid things if no matter. I blurted it out. Just looked at him and told him I loved him. He looked at me funny for a second and laughed. I was so hurt. He saw it in my eyes. And leaned in and kissed me.
It was glorious. Fireworks went off. For the first time in my eighteen years I felt peace. He pulled back after what felt like forever and chuckled again. He had known for years. He did grow up with two gay men for his childhood. He made a point of listing off all of the guys and a few of the girls at our school that were gay. Most had no idea. We agreed to keep our new romance a secret. It was hard enough being teens without the stigma of being gay on top of it.
Every one knew anyway.
Stanley said the first clue should have been my breach birth. I was so against vagina I couldn’t even face it at birth. I had to be forced to acknowledge it.
Suddenly the future wasn’t so scary. I wasn’t going to have to face it alone. I had a best friend and a love. Who cared if he looked like a caveman? He was mine. And I was his.
When we finally graduated and were allowed to attend college, Stanley and I went to the State college together. He was going to major in agriculture, and I had found my second voice in writing. We entrusted the magic carrot to a group of boys that no one would talk to and were always picked last for kick ball.
Stanley graduated at the top of his class, and I received a contract with a gentlemen’s magazine to write five pieces of fiction a year. Everything was going great for us, and neither of us could believe the turn around our lives had taken. Stanley’s fathers were released from prison a year after we graduated, and they taught him how to grow a special crop that helped supplement the income until I finished my first novel.
The day my editor called with the news that my book was picked up and there would be a healthy cash advance, Stanley and I went to Las Vegas and officially announced our love to the world. His fathers just stood there and cried as we held each other at the altar and swore to never leave each other. The four of us eventually opened a bed and breakfast a couple of miles down the road from the farm and it became one of the top spots in the state to vacation. All in all I would have to say that it didn’t turn out so bad after all; and for all the good and all the terrifically bad our lives turned out just fine. We only hope to hear from the adoption agency soon, and then our family will be complete. I wonder how our son will turn out; what with being raised by his fathers and grandfathers in a bed and breakfast down the road from the most profitable medicinal marijuana farm in Idaho. I guess you never can tell in this crazy mixed up world.