Knowing A Lost Cause

Don’t be too hard on me, this is my first attempt at creative writing. Its the first chapter and as much as I have of the second chapter of a novel I’m working on. I’ve grown to hate a lot of the first chapter.

Anyway, I can’t really say what genre it is, somewhere between fantasy, dark humor, and social satire. Sorry about the formatting, I had to transfer it over from MS Word, and the formatting didn’t transfer over,so I just gave it a quick once over fix.

Well, here goes:

I
Thinking of you as family

Normally middle age is a time to reflect on our lives and figure out just how we screwed up before we’re dead. Now that I am there, I find both points to be moot in my case. That I should reflect on my past mistakes is a given, but I have already spent every moment up to this point in that endeavor and I’ve sickened of it to the point of complete unconcern. Death, too, haunted me in the past, but now I have come to realize that I am already far deader than most are and not nearly as dead as I deserve to be. The question then is: Why bother? Why are you wasting our time and yours in tossing together some painful and overwrought memoir that encompasses both of the topics that you seem to despise so much? Do you think we will take as much pleasure in your misery as you take in it? The answer is, I think: No, far from it. I simply hope that one of you will become so disgusted or annoyed by my story that you decide to take up arms and end my life. That shouldn’t be so hard now that Straak is gone. I would just like to note that it would be easier on the both of us if you do it overnight as I’m afraid parts of me may yet be unwilling to go, but I will keep the door unlocked nonetheless. But, I’m wasting time; surely no one will show up on my doorstep to take my life if they set this work down before they have the chance to hate me.

I was unhappy as a child… You know, let’s not start there…Here, let’s try this: The carriage I was seated in forced its way forward through the muck in front of its wheels as the overweight, bearded man lashed the whip again. I stared at the back of his head from my place on the uncovered slab that was the rear seat. I was considering why my father would have his fattest driver assigned to this job when he already knew what the weather would be like. The thought had just occurred to me: He did look a lot like my father… Well, perhaps twenty years ago… Not to mention that they had the same basic temperament. So that was it then… I shifted my gaze to the crate that I had my feet propped up on and then to the twenty or so others between myself and the driver. Apparently I wasn’t trusted to escort twenty crates of nails without a chaperone.

The bitter internal tangent that this realization started was cut short as I realized that the chubby head that I’d been staring at for the last couple of hours was no longer there. In fact, the entire chubby body that I’d been staring at had fallen from the carriage altogether. This was immediately followed by a thud, which was followed by some panicked snorts and the creak of carriage wheels, which was then followed by the most unsettling noise I had heard up to that point. I’m not sure exactly how you would classify it, but if you were to run a rolling pin over a tomato that was mounted on a glass rod, I imagine the sound produced would be similar. Two more thuds followed, the horses this time, and then a third as I threw myself to the carriage floor.

I landed on my side between three crates and the carriage “wall”. The “wall” was three boards high, enough to keep a crate from being jolted overboard and just enough to conceal a small man lying on his side. The space between the crate and the wall was about one board wide, enough for a thin man on his side. I fit into this category well enough. Good luck, I guess. Some good the luck did me. I set my face against the carriage side and focused my gaze between the two uppermost boards. I saw a tree. I decided that it probably wasn’t responsible for downing two horses and a large man, so I looked to the left. Then I looked away, and then back, then away, and so on for a few seconds. I had seen a human skeleton, standing upright, with a small blue dart in hand and a leather pouch (probably containing more darts) strung over his shoulder. It wasn’t its existence that shocked me, those things were around, I had heard about them from some of the no talent entertainers that my mother so loved to waste her money on during her benders. What did shock me was how well composed it was. The bards had all embraced the same cliché: Mindless, stumbling, arm-forward, sometimes mumbling illegibly. This one took careful steps forward, swiveling its head cautiously from side-to-side, occasionally making gestures to a companion that I could not see. I think I would have preferred the cliché.

I considered the situation. I decided that I might be able to use something or other that I had picked up from the academy. The darts made it seem unlikely that they were out for blood. I slid back from the wall to give myself room to gesture. I paused. I think I knew that my best bet was to make some attempt to flee, but I was taken up by a fear of the consequences of such an attempt. I thought about how much help running had always been in the past. A moment later I stood, raised my arms in submission, and dismounted from the carriage.

As I lowered myself into the mud, I saw that the “companion” was another skeleton which looked much the same as the first, and, what’s more, he had a similar companion as well. It was the original that got the honor of providing me with my dart. It whipped its arm backwards, and, in one fluid motion, threw one into my right leg. I stumbled backwards, felt my limbs grow numb, and collapsed to the ground. I landed on what felt like a human arm. I didn’t look for the source, I knew what it was, and I hadn’t much enjoyed looking at him before he was run over by a carriage. Instead, I turned my gaze to the side of the carriage. “Wracod Inter-Planar Merchants” was written in silver letters on the side, and below that “Thinking of you as family”, a motto my father’s assistant had come up with. The numbness spread upward and my eyelids sealed themselves together. I lost consciousness.


“Thinking of you as family”, the motto was on my father’s letterhead this time. I focused on this line for an excessive amount of time, even though I had seen or heard it so many times in the past. I was in no hurry to see the letter’s original content. It was eight months earlier and I was in my room at the academy. I knew what I was about to read, my father didn’t send out those pleasant little “Everyone at a home misses you, and you cat’s doing fine” letters. He must have heard something about my academic standing-or something worse. That something worse was the contents of my dorm room. I had started, well, taking things from around the campus. Nothing particularly valuable or useful, at least I didn’t know of any real value or use to them. In retrospect, I think I mainly chose targets on whether or not they would be missed. If they would be, I grabbed them. Sitting on the desk to my left was the bust of a man who looked remarkably like everyone else who has ever been vain enough to have a bust of themselves made. Now he was wearing an amount of jewelry (stolen too, of course) that would have upset him if he had seen it on his wife in life (assuming he was dead, for all I knew he was one of the living professors). He was also now a paperweight, something that I’m sure he would not have appreciated. Similar trinkets were scattered across the room: statuettes, watches, hats, a small bench, etc. Most were arranged in a way that wouldn’t have brought pleasure to their former owners. That was half the point, I think. Social commentary or something, I don’t know, I was young. Back then I thought there was something clever about being a cynic. Now it’s more of a necessity than anything else.

I forced myself to read further. “Listen Boy” – That was the salutation, “Listen Boy”. As much as I could say against starting a note to your son like that, it did do a fine job of setting the tone of what followed.

I read on:
“Maybe you don’t get it. Maybe you’ve somehow missed everything. Maybe you can’t see how much better off you are than everyone else. (The “everyone” here was an exaggeration, but not much of one) I got boys your age working for me, hauling crates around, who are just happy to have the work. They do nothing but praise me for giving them money to buy food at night. (In truth, most of them were spending their money on cheap alcohol) Hell, I got one boy whose like fourteen, his parents were eaten or something, and all he does when he sees me is weep tears of joy and thank me for hiring him, despite his being smaller than the others. But my own son, who has never had to so much as…”

I don’t think I ever did finish reading that letter. This time my interruption came in the form of a knock at the door. I stopped reading, but made no move to open it. I had no reason to believe it was really for me (I assumed some student, probably drunk, had confused room numbers), and if it was, I didn’t think I wanted to open it. I had no friends at the academy; I had made no attempts to gain any. The knocks continued; it was for me. Now I guessed that it was some merchant. They traveled from door to door on the campus, taking advantage of the students, who often had large disposable incomes and were just looking for a chance to dispose of them. I opened the door, preparing a line about how I couldn’t afford whatever it was because my father was ill. (I wasn’t so sure I would be lying either) It wasn’t a merchant. It was the groundskeeper, key-ring in hand, with two men in uniform. I shut the door and locked it.
That time I did use something I had learned. While the groundskeeper was looking for a key with “107” on it, I was gesturing and muttering to myself. While he was fitting the key into the lock, I was watching the door warp slightly and jam itself into its frame. While he was wondering why the door wouldn’t open, I was sliding out of the window. I was on the first floor, and the windows were set low to the ground. Good luck, I guess. Some good the luck did me. As I brought myself back to a stand, after dropping from the windowsill, I caught sight of another uniformed man. He was a student, probably working a security detail to pay for his education, and he was standing to the left of my window, staring at me.

“I guess it wouldn’t do much good to run…,” I forced a smirk.
“I guess not,” he replied.
“Still…”
I turned and shot for a nearby lecture hall. I’m not sure if I made it two steps before I was tackled. He hauled me up and grabbed my arms, twisting them together behind my back.
“Did that make you feel better?”
I couldn’t see it, but I figured it was his turn to smirk.
“Not really.”
“Too bad.”
He began to lead me towards the dormitory and his coworkers.
“So… I guess I’ll be locked up or something…”
I heard him snort.
“Maybe if you were on a scholarship. No, you’re just going to be expelled probably. You’ll be sent home.”
I lost consciousness.

II
Pictures

Individuals have come up with any number of things to live for: Gold, fame, the gods, and so on. They choose something, declare it to be all important, and live for it for the rest of their days. Now, I do not often make sweeping philosophical claims. My seething self-hatred has prevented that, but I’m about to make one now. I’m about to share with you the root of all these beliefs; the real thing that we all live for. We all live not to die. That’s it, that’s where all religion, all drive, all goals come from. That’s why we find a mate and produce young, so some bit of us can not die. That’s why we make heroes of those who do some imagined great service, so they can not die just a little bit. That’s why we view suicide as a crime and martyrdom as an act of valor. Martyrs give their lives to not die. Suicides give their lives to die. That’s an affront to everything we really stand for. Usually our drive not to die lurks in the background, in some subconscious push that leads us in everything. Rarely does it step to the foreground and enter our conscious minds as itself. It had been hidden from me well enough when I was at the academy and spent most of my time snatching useless trinkets that were just barely wanted enough to get me in trouble. It had been hidden from me when I was staring at the neck of my father’s driver and contemplating how little my father trusted me. It ceased being hidden when a dart struck me in the right leg. It was at that point, and the seconds later as I lay spasming on the ground that this all became clear to me. There was nothing I could do then but think about it. As my body grew numb and my eyes forced themselves together, I realized just how badly I had failed at not dying so far.

I was a bit disappointed when I woke up. I had slept without any restlessness or dreams. The numbness had apparently anesthetized even my thoughts. It was the first time that I slept like that, and, I think I’d prefer it to even the pleasurable moments of my life. I’m not sure whether it was the rocks or the voices that awakened me. The “floor” was dirt, complete with small rocks (one of which was stabbing me in the thigh) and a thinning layer of grass. As I shifted to remove the pain in my thigh (and create a new one at the small of my back), I was granted a more complete view of my surroundings. I was in a small wooden structure with four low plywood walls and a flat roof, more packing crate than house. The walls had been “painted” with mortar, apparently much more recently than the structure had been built, and it looked as if, after finishing this job, the wannabe architect had poured whatever mortar had remained along the edges where the building came in contact with the ground. The “painting” had been haphazard and someone had been forced to chisel along the frame of the single door to allow it to open.

The voices were discussing philosophy.
“What the hell did I do to deserve this?”
“I told you already”
“The hell you did!”
“Well, you can’t expect me to be exact when it may not have happened yet, can you?”

I groaned, rolled over, and learned that I had three roommates in my packing crate house; the two arguing men and a third who sat aside from them regarding them with a look somewhere between concern and disgust. The man lamenting his fate was young, apparently in his twenties, and well built with short unbrushed black hair and a terribly ugly face that I would later hear described as “somewhere between frog and ape”. He had, in fact, done a great deal to deserve “this”, but his opponent was ignoring that point for the sake of his argument. His opponent was in his late thirties, similarly built, had hair that was too blond to be natural, and wore animal furs in a way that somehow made him seem more pretentious than earthy. The concerned man was about my age (at the time), thin, had ruffled brown hair that was neither long nor short, and wore a long burlap robe. He was shifting from side to side uneasily, and I took a moment to consider whether this was a result of the floor, his clothes, or the general anxiety of the situation.

My groans cut short their conversation and they turned to face me as I forced myself to sit up.
“Uhh…. Hi…,” I managed.
“Hey…,” the man in burlap answered.
The ugly man snorted.
The man in furs flashed me a counterfeit smile, “Hail.”
“What…” I started
“Good news,” the man in furs grinned, “We’re being held for ransom…”
“Ransom?”
“Yep,” the beam didn’t leave his face, “I’m Alex, by the way.”
I sighed at the shift of topics, “Nugan…”
The man in burlap opened his mouth to share his name, but was cut off by the ugly man.
“Pike.”
The man in burlap opened his mouth again, but this time it was I who interrupted him.
“The weapon or the fish?” I forced a smirk.
“The man.”
“Of course.”
“Hector.”
“What now?” I turned to the man in burlap.
“My name… Its Hector…”
“Oh…” I turned back to Pike. “Anyway…”
“What the hell did I do to deserve this?” Pike blurted out again.
“I told you already.”
“The he-.”
“Yeah,” I interrupted “The hell you did. Anyway, what the hell did he do to deserve this? I missed that part.”
“He may not have even done it yet.”
Pike snorted, “Do you hear the bastard?!”
“Ok…. Would it surprise you if I said I was lost?”
“Well, its like this,” Alex began, “He asked what he did to ‘deserve this’. That means he sees this as a judgment of some kind, right?”
“Yes…”
“And who does he think is giving him this judgment?”
“The gods… I guess…”
“I don’t think….” Hector began.
“Yes, yes. Now, the gods don’t see things the way that we do, do they? They have a much more far-reaching understanding of time and so forth, correct?”
“That’s what they say…”
“Yes, but…” Hector tried again.
“Well then, who says the crime and punishment have to strictly follow each other in that order? Maybe the gods, with their more complete view of time can punish us even before we or society feel we need to be punished.”
“Bull!” Pike interjected.

I could tell Pike was broiling internally. I’ve often wondered at the ability of “blasphemy” to anger the most immoral men. The only thing that seems to hit them harder is questioning the purity of their mothers. Alex’s philosophy didn’t bother me, but his tone did. I forced myself to smirk at his remark.
“So you’re saying that maybe the homeless man’s crippling hunger is a punishment for that damned piece of bread he was going to steal?”
“Why not?”
“I really think…” Hector wasn’t about to give up.
“Well, sounds suitably unjust. I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case.”
“Unjust? Didn’t you listen at all? It’s perfect justice. Every act has its perfect reward or punishment, just not necessarily in perfect order.”
“But…”

This time it was a cloud of grey dust that interrupted Hector. Someone had opened the door. Four individuals (or one, depending on what your definition of “individual” is) filed into the room and brought to an end the enlightened conversation we had been using to forget that we were all probably about to fail at not dying. The first two were familiar, one of them (I’m not sure which, since without flesh we all look pretty much the same) had provided me with a dart in my leg a few hours earlier, and the other had probably at least helped carry me here. The next, and the only individual in the strictest sense, was a middle aged man who seemed to wish to be confused with someone older. His hair and beard had obviously been died white, and he lacked the wrinkles to match. His gate seemed to have been forced to a slow, but awkward pace, as if he was trying to avoid breaking out into a giddy skip. His face and clothes were plastered with the same mortar, recently dried, that covered the walls, which prevented me from identifying him as the living one among his friends at first. The “individual” following him wasn’t completely foreign to me, although I’ll admit I didn’t expect to see him walking through the doorway, or to see him walking period. I failed to suppress a shudder as I watched at the form of a man, a man who looked like a younger, deader version of my father, walk into the room. Walk may be the wrong word, as he was bowed by a fractured spine to the point that he was nearly crawling.

I closed my eyes and covered my mouth with one hand while swatting pointlessly at the dust with the other. Somewhere in the room I heard someone cough. I assume it was Pike, as it seemed like the kind of sound a man that looked like a cross between frog and ape would make: a sort of combination of croak and growl. This was followed by a giggle, which was definitely not Pike.

“Come now hon, it’s not bad enough to start reverting to your natural state over, is it?”

I opened my eyes in time to see the white-bearded man wink at Pike, and it was my turn to croak. He overheard my disgust, and turned to face me with an energetic smile.
“Hi there newbie, how are you doing?”

I looked up at him, squinting at his mortar plastered, grinning face through the dust.
“Do you honestly want-”
“What the hell is this?!” He threw his hands liberally into the air, and turned to his assistants, “A couple of mud stains?!”
“What? Are you gonna strip me down and sell my clothes back separate from me? Damn, you’re thrifty…”
“Huh…” His expression was completely blank as he turned to me again. After a second he giggled again and waved dismissively, “No, no, no hon, You’re a teensy bit lost…”
“Oh gods no…” I rolled my eyes.
“Yes, yes, its not that the mud spots are too much, its that they’re too little.”
“Who the what now?”

“Come now, I can’t send a picture back to Mom and Dad with it looking like the worse we did is throw mud balls at you, can I? That’s not going to make them very worried. They’ll spend a little extra on some mercs just to have the extra satisfaction of bringing me home with you if they don’t think you’re in any kind of distress. But if it looks like you’re struggling to coax another breath out of your brutalized lungs… That’s different.”

“Yeah, my Dad would probably give you a bonus…”

“That’s not what I meant hon, but more the better.” The white-bearded man giggled again. “Anyway…” He waved to his companions, and the man who a few hours ago was able to drive a carriage and sit upright moved towards me while the two skeletons moved to guard the others. The former carriage driver wrapped my arms behind my back and held me in place. I didn’t try to resist. The white-bearded man took out a long, mortar-stained pair of scissors and skipped over to me. I shut my eyes, and gritted my teeth together, bracing myself. I heard the fabric over my shoulder-blade be cut open, and felt the cold metal brush against my skin. The scissors withdrew, and I tightened my teeth against each other more, and waited. The scissors came down again, to cut a new slit in my robes near my right knee. I swooned some, and let out a breath, before clenching my teeth again. This process continued: my left wrist, my chest, the hem near my left leg, and so on. Then the scissors withdrew and I felt a wave of tiny particles cover me. I sneezed and was released from the hold. I wiped some of the fresh dust off my face and opened my eyes, looking up puzzled into the same merry smile.

“You’re done?”

“Just about…” The white-bearded man extended a fist out towards me, opened it, resumed giggling, and blew dust into my eyes. “There.” I shut my eyes instinctively, only to make the dust that was already inside my eyes burn more, groaned, and fell backwards against the wall. I heard a clap, felt chubby finger clamp around my arms, and was drug out of my concrete packing crate.

I bumped against the rocky ground for a few yards before I was let go, face down, and spun over. My smoldering eyes flickered open, and I looked at my surroundings through an inch of internal water. I lay at the center-point of a non-existent square with four copper stands forming its corners. At the top of each stand were a fist-sized prism, and a fifth stand, prism included, stood about a yard in front of me. In front of that stand, about five feet away from it was a blank sheet of canvas stretched over a frame. The white-bearded man beamed down at me.

“A few more tears would be great hon… But this’ll do.”

He made a sharp wave, light was drawn into the four main prisms, and my vision was cut short by a flash.


I was eleven, had not yet realized that life was all about not dying, and was living for whatever method I could find to avoid thinking about anything relevant. That was task enough in a house that my father had filled with business texts, ledgers, and an ever-changing flow of underpaid, overworked, and hastily fired child laborers whose job it was to do any house work that my father was too busy to think of and my mother was too drunk to do; i.e. everything. My mother’s main method of escaping relevance was not a choice open to me, as, although the house was invariably scattered with half-empty shot-glasses, I was never to them within a arm’s length of my mouth before the smell led me to place the glass back on the tabletop, desk, armrest, shelf, sink, floor, bedpost, sand-box edge, or where ever it had been initially abandoned. The child employees, on the other hand, had weaker noses, stronger stomachs, and an even greater need to escape relevance than I did, which prevented those half-empty glasses from going to waste, and provided my father with a ready-made excuse to terminate them just prior to the end of a pay week. 

It did end up being my mother who provided my method for escaping relevance through her entertainment spending binges. Many of her favorite “entertainers” had decided that they were simply not making enough acting like hacks, so they began writing like them as well. They had taken to waiting until the end of a performance, when my mother had drunk several times as much as her minute weight and years of alcoholism would allow, and then offering “transcripts” priced at somewhere around what eight of the children working for my father would’ve made in a week, assuming they remained employed that long. My mother would, of course, pay this amount, plus tip (this was her idea), and a library of coverless parchment booklets began to accumulate around the house. My father eventually became fed up with having to sort through “six –thousand pages of filthy waste to find one damn ledger” that he “needed to feed this damn worthless family”, so he sold four armchairs and an oak table that he had never seen before, and turned the fifth drawing room into a makeshift library.

It was on the fifth, unsold armchair that was still in this library, reading these transcripts where I found my escape from relevance. The plays were poorly written, there’s no question there. The plots were clichéd, the characters were little more than a heroic profession with legs, and the same six or seven lines of dialogue seemed to appear and reappear about twenty times an act. Even today if I hear someone’s hair compared to rays of sunlight, or of some creature’s “stench of sulfur and eyes like burning coals”, I can’t help but to have flashbacks of sitting on a large leather chair, trying to ignore the sounds of tiny feet pushing brooms outside the door, and the smell of half a dozen glasses of discarded whiskey valued at six-hundred gold a bottle. Every one of them was also, of course, a “true story”, or at least based on one. Even at the age of eleven, though, I found it hard to believe that the fate of the world, the gods, millions in gold, every sort of artifact of supreme power, and so very many innocent but barely dressed women of less than one-hundred pounds had hung in the balance enough times to fill four six-foot tall oak shelves. The fact that at least seventy-five percent of these things hung in the balance in each and every play did not increase my confidence in their claims either.

There was another way in which the plays were attractive to an adolescent with no friends surrounded by wasted eight year olds who was trying to escape relevance: everything in them held significance. A smooth black rock was always more than just some bear that fell into a bog a few million years ago, a walking staff always signified something more than being bowed by crippling arthritis, and a locked box always held things of greater importance than old letters, cheap gin, and a deck of risqué playing cards (as the one under my father’s bed did). While reading one of those plays, I could very nearly begin to believe that there actually was something resembling a guiding purpose to life, until I was interrupted by the inebriated weeping of a recently terminated worker wondering how he would bring money home to his likely equally inebriated mother and father for food (which was probably code for whiskey).

That wasn’t what interrupted me that day. That day I was interrupted by my fathering opening the door and stepping into his former drawing room for the first time in something over three months. “What the hell happened to you, boy?” My father, at that time, had short brown hair with an accompanying short brown beard, with a cigar filling much of the thin space between the lower part of his beard and his mustache. The brown hair has since changed to grey; the cigar’s placement has not changed at all. He was also overweight, just over two-hundred pounds, which was a real accomplishment for a Wracod, who’s bizarre metabolisms result in men who struggle to reach one-hundred and thirty pounds and who’s women rarely see one-hundred. It was not that my father was born any less in the family’s image than the rest of us, I’ve seen old portraits which disprove that, but rather his extra seventy pounds were a result of a life devoted to desk work and hedonism. (Technically it was a life devoted to Epicureanism, but the difference between those terms exists only in the minds of epicures who would like to place an extra bit of imagined value on a valueless life, and hedonistic peasants who have dreams of some day eating food that originated more than fives miles from their home, drinking booze that cost more than their current homes, and having intercourse with women who have had the chance to wash their hair within the last seventy-two hours.)

I set the transcript in my hands down on the oak table in front of me without attempting to save my place. Missing part of a play was never a tragedy; since it was always all too easy to fill in what was lost. “Reading…” I replied to my father with my eyes fixed on the flimsy, and already badly bent, metal ring that held the play together at the upper left hand corner. “That crap?” My father snorted and knocked his cigar off on one of the room’s ashtrays, which were the only items in the house that were more numerous than half-empty shot glasses. “You’d be damn well better off getting trashed every day like your damn mother.” He was right. Looking back on it now, I’d take a twelve hour hangover instead of a life of delusions inflicted by bad literature without a second thought.

My father had not climbed three flights of stairs, and checked eight-teen doors before finding me behind this one just to inquire me on what I was doing. He wasn’t that kind of father. He had a definite purpose, and he wasted no time in expressing it. “That damn bastard I’m paying to take the picture has been sitting on his ass downstairs for gods know how damn long waiting for you, and if we don’t get this the hell over with soon, he’s probably going to start eating my damn food too, and gods know those little bastards filch enough of it from me when I’m not in the house, and its not like your damn mother would get the hell off her damn bed to watch them. You’d think those damn kids didn’t have enough to eat at home or something. Who the hell cares, I can’t stop them and still work my ass off to buy food so that we can eat whatever crumbs they leave us, but I sure as hell can make you get down the damn stairs now, so that pansy whatever the hell he thinks he is can wave his arms around like a drunken woman, like your mother, and get that damn picture done before he takes food out of my mouth too.” The “damn picture” my father was talking about was a family portrait that was being produced as part of Wracod Inter-Planar Merchants newest advertising campaign, the same one that spawned the slogan “Thinking of you as Family”. It was the company’s most successful of its many emphatic pleas for more money, one that, as far as I know, still continues to this day. It was also not my father’s idea, but rather the brainchild of his twenty-two year old assistant, Gerhane, a man who, incidentally, had never had a family.

I followed my father down three flights of stairs, across a hallway that smelled as if someone had sprayed the residue of a nursery mixed with the musk of a tavern over the desk of a money lender, and through a door that was about two feet taller than my father and about two inches wider. Inside the door, the three remaining living members of the Wracod family, my “family”, were seated on a leather sofa placed against the wall directly opposite where I stood. On the far left, propped against the arm of the couch entirely for support rather than style, was my mother.

That’s all I have so far. I know, bad place to leave it. But, like I said, its very incomplete.