Sunday, November 12, 2006


The winter wore on, making the whole family restless. After putting up with an unusual amount of bickering, the parents sent their two children to bed. The man who would become my father decided to take a walk outside to burn off some nervous energy. He bundled up and let his feet take him where they would. The light of the full moon reflected from the snow and made the night glow.

The subdivision was new, with many parcels of land still left undeveloped. My father decided to walk across one of the vacant lots. Unfortunately for him, the snow concealed a large rock, and he tripped over it. He managed to catch himself before he fell, but in the process he jostled the rock enough to actually dislodge it from the frozen ground.

As soon as the exigency of recovering his balance was met, he heard a horrible squalling. He had spent time on a farm as a boy, and the noise reminded him of something halfway between a colicky infant and a distressed goat. Worse, it was coming from just behind him. He whirled about in case some animal was attacking, but nothing was there. He shuffled forward a bit and looked down into hole that had been covered by the displaced rock.

The sight took him aback. The creature making the hideous screech lay before him. It had two arms, two legs, and a head. It lacked fur and a tail. Could it possibly be human? Or humanoid, at least? If so, it was the ugliest baby he had ever seen.

Not knowing what else to do, he gritted his teeth and picked it up. As soon as he did so, a chthonic voice said, "It is done." My father's nerves were already shaken, and the unexpected voice caused him to drop the wailing monster, though he did manage to catch it by a leg before it hit the ground. He was at heart a kindly man, so he controlled his revulsion, slipped the creature under his coat, and hurried home.

As he came through the door, his wife at first thought he was concealing a badly injured animal. When she saw what he had, it frightened her, but her ability to act in a crisis soon asserted itself, and she bathed the creature in warm water and wrapped it in a blanket.

In the meantime, the commotion had awakened their children, and the whole family stood around staring down at the frightful beast. "I don't suppose we can bring him to the humane society," said my father.

"I don't think they would take him," said the woman who was to become my mother.

"Can I feed it to my dog?" asked the boy who was to become my brother.

"I'll go buy some baby formula," said my father.

And so they reared me as their own. I'm informed that I was unusually cantankerous in infancy. I grew into a shy, cautious, solitary, cynical, curious man with curmudgeonal delusions.

My kind are hard to see. We prefer the moon to the sun, calm to excitement, quiet to commotion, loneliness to crowds. We can be found in the shady spots, the hidden spots, the spots that others overlook. You will never see us at the front of a parade, under the lights, or rallying the crowd. When we sing, we sing alone. When we dance, we dance alone. We are the denizens of the in-between places. Our minds, however, soar free.

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