Category Archives: Part One: Childhood, Infancy, and the Master Plans of Youth

Hiraeth Excerpt (Interlude: Friendship)

The following is an excerpt of:


The Boy Who Dreamed and the Big Bad Wolf Which He Became

By Tex Batmart

If you haven’t been with us from the start, check out Chapter One here

Interlude: Friendship

Over the course of his life, there are only four people upon whom Mr. Batmart has ever bestowed the title of “Best Friend.” The earliest recipient was Ty Howell, both Tex’s first friend, and a comrade through the trying times of daycare. His reign came to an end however, in the summer of 1986, when his chose to launch an unsanctioned attack upon the genital region of a boy named Arthur Grant.

It was, in fact, that incident which made the transfer of title all but guaranteed, having created a bond between the two boys not involved in carrying out that terrible attack. And so, from that summer, until one almost ten years later, Tex considered Arthur to be his new best friend. In fact, considering the tenure of their friendship, and the subsequent absence of Ty, in later years, Tex rarely, if ever, mentioned the first boy who had been the best of friends, merely telling new acquaintances (should the topic arise in casual conversation) that Arthur had been his best friend since Kindergarten. And, considering how close the boys became, both only children who came to be like brothers, two families brought together for the celebrations and consolations, it is no wonder that the generally more insignificant friendship of Tex and Ty wasn’t hardly mentioned (or remembered).

The other two people to have held the title (and who continue to do so to this very day) are both named Dave, grew up with one another, and had their own friendship before Mr. Batmart gained the hat trick. When they came to spend time with one another, there was still kicking involved, but usually directed primarily toward the shins.

The first Dave was befriended when the boys were just eight years of age. They had met in class, and hadn’t really thought that much of one another, but over the years, their participation in Cub Scouts brought them together, allowing them to bond over such harrowing incidents as having Dave’s mother as the Den Mother for their troop.

They circled one another in the coming years, frequently sharing classes. They drifted apart a bit in middle school (which is when the two Daves met and befriended one another in band class, while Tex preferred the decidedly less musical route of art, home economics, and a brief tour of duty in seventh grade shop class), but by their second year of high school, they were better friends than ever, having found a common enemy in the public school structure, as well as their inabilities to constructively interact with members of the opposite sex, though this would prove to be less of a problem at first for Dave B.

There wasn’t really any specific moment when Tex knew that Dave was one of his best friends, rather, it was a gradual realization that they’d spent such a large part of their lives together, and had shared so many moments of a common history, that they were bound to one another, for better or for worse, but in a significantly non-romantic context.

Dave F, on the other hand, was almost a sort of happy accident. He and Tex had most likely been introduced several times throughout the years, as they shared many friends in common, but it wasn’t really until the winter of their Junior year in high school that they truly became friends.

It was a dark time in our hero’s life, owing to his growing apathy and run-ins with the law, and when he found a kindred spirit in Dave F, with whom he could discuss grand plans to improve the world or discuss such major issues as death metal or fringe theatre. He’d found someone who would take him on adventures, and help to relieve the boredom of what life had become. They shared poetry with one another, and hung out in graveyards to get drunk.

When Tex moved in with The Woman at the end of his formal education in the public system, Dave F was there to keep him grounded in reality. They made music together, and played Super Nintendo until the break of dawn. And even when the dark days came, and it seemed as though their friendship could not withstand the internal politics of the drug-addled circle to which they both belonged, it somehow endured. And when Dave F called, and asked Tex to move to California, the move was made without a second thought.

Though he was an only child, Tex Batmart found that he had two brothers, with all the benefits and detriments which siblings have been known to offer. In his darkest moments, he felt the pull of friendship, and yet chose to cling to it, as he let everything else fall away. Arthur was a brother, and because of him, Tex always knew that he had another set of parents, for all intents and purposes. Out of all of the boys which he had called “Best Friend”, the only one to slip away was the first to have claimed the title. So it is with recognition of all which he had set in motion with just one rage-filled kick of his small leg, that this author chooses to thank that old acquaintance, and hopes that he is doing well, wherever he may be.

To read the next installment, click here

Hiraeth Excerpt (Chapter Five: Kindergarten, and Other Injustices)

The following is an excerpt of:


The Boy Who Dreamed and the Big Bad Wolf Which He Became

By Tex Batmart

If you haven’t been with us from the start, check out Chapter One here

Chapter Five: Kindergarten, and Other Injustices

Two little old men, sitting on a log. That is how his Kindergarten teacher described Tex Batmart’s friendship with Arthur Grant. It was a friendship which would supplant the one which he had cultivated with Ty, and which would provide him with emotional and moral support until adulthood. It wasn’t until Mr. Batmart moved away to Seattle proper that he fell out of contact with his friend, and even then, he still managed to make occasional contact with either Arthur or his parents, from time to time. But it all began back in the fading days of summer in 1985.

Both children had been placed into the afternoon Kindergarten class, which Tex would later attribute as the cause for his aversion to rising early. For Tex, it wasn’t really all that terribly much different from what he was used to in daycare, aside from the giant yellow bus he got to ride to get to and from the school. They still played with toys and munched on snacks, but there were also lots more books, and even a computer. His teacher had been surprised to find that he could read even before his first day in her class, and began the tradition which would haunt him until his first report card of high school, stating that he was a pleasure to have in class.

Through the years, the boy discovered that, as he struggled to find a way to completely disappear from notice, for he didn’t much care for all of the attention that came from being put on the spot, that unless he had failed spectacularly at something within a week or two of the end of the trimester, the most that his teachers could ever really say of him was that he was a pleasure to have in class, or that, ironically, he worked well with others. Of course, there aren’t all that many grades in Kindergarten, and usually the only way that someone might fail is if they couldn’t keep their paste addiction under strict control.

Of that year, the most that Mr. Batmart could truly recollect was time spent playing some sort of educational spelling adventure on the computer, and playing with toys at recess. And it was there, upon the playground of that elementary school, that he first got to know the boy who he would come to call his friend, though, considering their first encounter, it’s almost a wonder that there was any kind of friendship at all.

It wasn’t that our hero was unable to make friends, for he had shown himself to be at least marginally proficient at mimicking normal social etiquette, but that, in some ways, he exemplified the natural state of being of a native northwesterner: to outsiders, often considered chilly or aloof, but once comfortable with the people in his surroundings, warm and easygoing, sometimes to a fault. No, the friendship nearly didn’t happen due to a heated political debate.

                “GoBots are stupid!” one of the squealing children yelled.

                “Transformers are stupid!” another countered immediately.

A group had gathered near the monkey bars as the children (mostly male, as the girls had better things to do than defend the honor of their chosen brand of cartoon-advertised toys and action figures) began a spirited discussion of the relative merits of the two major toy lines of vehicles which were secretly artificially intelligent robotic lifeforms currently deep undercover.

Perhaps it was the quality of the Transformers toys, or then again, perhaps it was a preference for the cartoon, but the proponents of an Optimus Prime-led hegemony outnumbered the GoBots supporters by at least two or three to one. Tex had rarely been in the majority, and actually, had never truly had the opportunity to participate in an activity that was so polarizingly decisive, but he himself was a strong believer in the supremacy of the Transformers, and had quickly and easily mastered the transformation sound effect.

He knew of the GoBots, and to be fair, had nothing against the competing program. Cartoons were cartoons, after all, and to him, it was a moot point in any case, as everyone in possession of the slightest amount of sophistication knew that Thundercats was the finest program to debut in the Year of our Lord, 1985.

But when push came to shove, as was likely to happen quite soon if the recess lady didn’t come over in time, he would have said that he was a Transformers man. Of the group facing the moral judgement of superior numbers, Arthur seemed the least fazed about the prospect of conflict. He stood his ground and just reiterated that he thought GoBots were cool.

The crowd was beginning to whip itself into a frenzy, when the recess lady descended upon them and broke up the mob before things could truly get out of hand. As everyone began to shuffle back in the direction of the classroom, Tex walked up to Arthur and helped him gather up the fallen toys. “GoBots are all right, I guess,” he told the other little boy.

               “Okay,” was the only reply he got.

As far as friendships which would one day change the course of human history go, it wasn’t the most auspicious of beginnings. But that simple act of kindness matched against an unflappable sense of calm drew the two together, and soon they began to seek one another out at recess to talk about the things which only five-year-old boys can talk about. Upon examination, they rather resembled the stand-up comics of the 1990’s, in that most of their conversations about things revolved around talking about things from their childhoods which they thought were cool, and asking one another if they’d seen this program or heard about the latest toy that would be coming out.

Soon, they were comparing He-Man action figures and asking one another over for the weekend. This was more of a problem for Tex, as he was still maintaining a friendship with Ty, who was in the morning Kindergarten class. They had seen less of one another since the end of summer, as Ty would leave daycare early in the morning, and be arriving back shortly after Tex had gone to school. The weekends had been their time to compare notes and wash away the stresses which only organized education can bestow. By the time that 1986 had come, they were lucky to see one another every other weekend, but it all came to a head shortly after Kindergarten graduation.

Having been friends for as long as either of them could reliably remember, the boys had a little ceremony at Ty’s house to commemorate their successful completion of their first year of school. Their parents had planned a little party, and there were diplomas, cake, and silly looking headgear. Neither of the boys had truly felt all that much different, as by June, they had both grown accustomed to their new routines.

It was more of a shock to them on the first day of their very first summer vacation when they felt the first stirrings of restlessness which untried sloth can bring. It was kind of like a weekend which never ended, although there was still daycare all throughout the week. By that time, Tex had grown tired of being forced to live two separate lives, and had decided that both Ty and Arthur should finally meet each other. It made sense to him, for he was good friends with them both, so it stood to reason that the both of them should enjoy the others’ company as well.

Sadly, this blind spot in human nature never fully disappeared from Mr. Batmart, despite decades of actually knowing better. Had he been paying more attention to what happened on his lawn in mid-July of 1986, he might have fared better fourteen years later, in similar circumstances.

That day began well, as he jumped out of bed, voice already set to “outside,” and immediately set about peppering his mother with queries as to the time, what the time of arrival of his friends was estimated to be, what the differences in those times amounted to, and finally, what time was it? Just as his mother felt that she might actually have a nervous breakdown if her son was not miraculously struck dumb within the quarter-hour, the first of his guests arrived. Ty came in, and the boys started playing, their voices no less piercing that Tex’s alone had been, but at least directed at one another with no expectation of participation by his mother. Ty’s father gave Mrs. Batmart a nod of consolation, exited through the front door, and quickly drove off before something could occur which might necessitate the cancellation of his so-infrequent-as-to-be-nearly-mythical Saturday plans for peace and quiet.

The boys were so consumed with what they were doing that neither of them noticed when Arthur finally arrived. One minute they were reenacting a crucial scene from that week’s Voltron, and the next, Arthur was standing just behind them, waiting to be introduced. It is perhaps necessary, at this juncture, to bring up the fact that most social situations outside of a binary combination tended to make Tex fairly uncomfortable, and even such a simple task of making the introductions between his two best friends was beyond his grasp. And so, much in the same fashion as he would for the rest of his life, Tex Batmart, given the choice of performing a straightforward social nicety or ignoring his obligations, took the one which allowed him the opportunity to pretend that nothing was happening, in the hopes that the situation would resolve itself, or that everyone might just go away.

His mother noticed his reticence, and stepped in quickly, so as to keep Arthur from feeling alienated. “Ty,” she said, “This is Arthur. He’s a friend of Tex’s from Kindergarten. Arthur, this is Ty. Tex and Ty have been friends since they both started at daycare.” All three children had stopped what they were doing just so that they might give the ranking adult in the room their full attention so that she would see the exact moment when they all dismissed her. “Hi,” the two boys said to one another. Eager to get back to what they had been doing, Tex quickly brought Arthur up to speed, explaining that, though the episode which they were replaying was from the second season, and therefore the use of the vehicle-based Voltron toys was technically correct, both Ty and young Master Batmart had agreed to use the characters and mannerisms of the (far superior) first season, which had featured a lion-based Voltron.

Soon they switched over to playing He-Man, though that came to a screeching halt, as they could not decide to got to play with He-Man and who had to play as Skeletor. They all agreed, however, that no one wanted Man-At-Arms. It was about an hour into their playtime, when Tex’s mother suggested, a little more firmly than any of the boys felt was strictly necessary, that perhaps they might have a bit more fun if they transplanted their adventures to the front lawn. In age before the ubiquity of personal electronics, where video games where still played in arcades, and television channels were changed by an act of manual labor, such a banishment was hardly seen as such. There was no Wi-Fi signal to worry about, and the toys which they were happy to play with indoors were just as fine (as no more likely to be irrevocably damaged) outdoors. Each boy grabbed an armful of action figures, and they trotted out the back door in single file.

What transpired next, or rather, the moments immediately preceding it have been lost to the mists of failing memory and time, but the outcome of what was shortly to occur set down the paths which at least two of the boys in that childhood triumvirate would travel. As they played outside, there was some sort of disagreement, as is not entirely uncommon among small children, or even males of any age, and, in a moment of inspiration, one of them decided that the best way to settle their differences was with a quick kick to the groin. Loathe to keep you in suspense, this author wishes to reassure you that Mr. Batmart’s testicles and remaining genitalia remained untouched by violence on that solemn day, but that one of his friendships would be irrevocably damaged, while the other would be immeasurably strengthened.

Were our hero a callow sort of man, perhaps he might have sided with the victor in that particular confrontation, but even at six years of age, he knew that a swift kick to the gonads was unsportsmanlike, and sided with the victim. And so it came to pass that Ty, who had most likely sought to drive away the boy which he had perceived as a clear and present danger to his friendship with Tex Batmart, instead brought about the very thing he’d been desperately trying to avert. As his sneaker-laded foot impacted upon the genital region of Arthur, he lost his status as best friend, and by never forgiving Tex for having a friend other than himself, Ty eventually lost his status even as a friend.

This drifting apart took time, of course, but by the time that Tex went to visit Ty out at his new house in Bothell, theirs was a friendship in name only. That weekend only came to pass as a sort of nostalgia brought about by the rapid decline of childhood. When they parted ways that time, each promising to stay in touch with the other, neither of them really felt inclined to try.

To read the next installment, click here

Hiraeth Excerpt (Interlude: Road Trips with the Grandparents, Part One)

The following is an excerpt of:


The Boy Who Dreamed and the Big Bad Wolf Which He Became

By Tex Batmart

If you haven’t been with us from the start, check out Chapter One here

Interlude: Road Trips with the Grandparents, Part One

In the summer of 1984, his grandparents, perhaps sensing that his mother could benefit from some time apart from her precious son, took the boy on a road trip to California. When he was told of the impending vacationary travels, he insisted that they take his grandfather’s truck down on the trip. When his grandfather asked him where his grandmother was to sit, he helpfully suggested that there was room in the cargo bed. Sadly, at least to him, he was overruled.

He couldn’t understand why she wasn’t interested, and in fact, the only reason that he hadn’t offered to ride in back himself, was that his grandfather seemed wholly obsessed with the notion of seatbelts where it came to his diminutive passenger. For the entire run-up to the day of their departure, the child could feel his excitement grow, filling him to nearly bursting with a smug sense of glee and four-year-old entitlement.

But on the day of his departure, he briefly lifted up his mask of self-importance, and asked his mother if she was sure that she would be all right without him. He couldn’t say exactly why he came to feel the way he did, but the look upon his mother’s face as he was being bundled into the car seemed wholly inappropriate considering that he was going to be going away.

He felt that she should be wracked with apprehension, tear-stained eyes betraying the sense of loss she felt, seeing her son, her only son!, being taken from her. Instead, he caught only a barest hint of a smile which was quickly hidden behind her “serious face”, and then the door was closed, and the journey begun.

It would be his first trip to Disneyland, as well as his first extended period of time away from his mother. It was also, according to reliable sources, a time when he subsisted almost entirely upon air and various bites of food from off his grandmother’s plates, much to her growing fear and consternation.

As the miles rolled by, and the boy became an official Interstate traveler, he found himself caught between the realization that he would soon be arriving at the “Happiest Place On Earth” and the worry that his mother would be cast adrift without him. Every other night, as he and his grandparents settled into their motel, he would call his mother and ask her if she was all right.

Far be it from a simple narrator to interject his personal opinion, but it is entirely plausible that he was using these conversations not to reassure his mother, but rather, to reassure himself. It was, after all, his first time so far away from her, and though he dearly loved his grandparents, he was also ill-equipped to deal with change.

Of course, once he made it to the Magic Kingdom, the majority of his worry began to melt away, and his conversations with his mother, while still framed in the pretense of concern, were now more about assuaging his growing sense of guilt at having an amazing time and leaving her at home in utter boredom.

As for his grandparents, he didn’t give a second thought to whether they might be bored, as he could not conceive of how someone might remain untouched by the sheer splendor of it all. In later years, the only thing which he was able to recall was a brief moment of stark naked panic at the sensation of flight above a miniaturized London as he and his grandparents glided along upon the Peter Pan ride. And though he never truly got over his fear of heights (either real or of a forced perspective), it made him feel immeasurably better to discover that his grandfather had also reacted similarly.

His grandmother, on the other hand, had thought that they were both acting just a bit ridiculously. But at the time, Tex was rather shaken by it, and demanded almost immediately upon exiting the ride that they make their way back to the Small World ride again.

According to his grandparents, if there is a hell, then it is going on a trip to Disneyland with a four-year-old child. And, if one has truly lived a vile and horrid life, littered with depravity and sin, then the special place reserved for him is the Small World ride. For a child, its repetition and simplicity were the pinnacle of innovation; for the adult accompanying him each and every consecutive visit, mind-numbing would have been more preferable than any term which I may try to insert here.

Throughout their visit, they managed to take a ride on the Peter Pan exhibit, the Pirates of the Caribbean (decades before anyone considered turning it into a film franchise), and very nearly managed to get on the Teacup ride. In contrast, they were forced to queue up and suffer through (at minimum) forty-eight trips through the smallest world of all: their rapidly shrinking sanity. Suffice it to say, that when the vacation was drawing down, their joy at never having to take that ride again was the direct inverse of the child’s despondency, but at that point, they may have even been willing to pay another visit to the Tiki House.

By the time that they had finally gotten home, each of the weary travelers was anxious to go spend some time apart from one another. The boy’s anxiety had gotten the better of him, and once all of the fun had been extracted from his visit to the Golden State, he began to feel a keen and biting sense of urgency to return home. As there was no constant barrage of diversion to keep him occupied, his mind returned to the plight of his mother, and how terribly lonely she must have been.

His grandparents managed to keep it together just long enough to drop him off at home, and only then by retreating into their inner sanctums and imagining a world where tiny people did not feel the urge to speak from the moment when they woke (entirely too early to be wholesome), until the moment when they finally passed out, mid-sentence.

The car pulled into the spot in front of our hero’s home, and as soon as he was unbuckled and set loose, racing toward his mother, a tangible weight lifted from each and every one of the three vacationers. No sooner was the boy’s luggage extracted from the trunk and set briskly upon the porch, did his grandparents get back in the car and drive back to their home.

It might have seemed a bit bizarre, if the boy had noticed it, for normally his mother and his grandparents lingered interminably before departure. He, however, was awash in the comfort of returning home, having nobly cut his adventure short so that he might rescue his mother from her doldrums.

“I’m home!” the boy said with genuine enthusiasm. “Did you miss me?”

His mother only stared at the falling dust which her parents’ car had left behind as they’d driven away. The smile upon her face turned down ever so slightly, and then she snatched up the boy in great big hug, and said into his ear, “Of course, honey.”

To read the next installment, click here

Hiraeth Excerpt (Chapter Four Continued…)

The following is an excerpt of:


The Boy Who Dreamed and the Big Bad Wolf Which He Became

By Tex Batmart

If you haven’t been with us from the start, check out Chapter One here

Chapter Four: Continued…

But, aside from the dog which always seemed to hinder our hero’s entrance to his friend’s abode, everything else about his visits there fell in line exactly with what he had imagined. There were new toys with which to play, and he was allowed his minor bouts of despotism under the graces of hospitality. Of course, it was also during these visits that he began to get some sense of class distinction.

Though he had never before considered his economic situation (and it would be years before he truly started pondering in earnest), he was taken aback by the casual wealth in which his friend seemed to have been born. He still did not consider himself poor, as he had toys, and watched a significant amount of television (though far less than he might otherwise have preferred), but he could not help but notice that his friend seemed to have so many more channels on his television, not to mention that his friend actually had his own television.

Had he not still been at an age where he expected everything he saw to somehow become his, he might have handled his time over there with a fair amount more grace. All was not lost to him, however. The boys seemed to be allowed a far more liberal style of self-management, and henceforth frequently found new and exciting ways of getting into trouble, not that the threat of punishment was much of a deterrent, at least not somewhere our hero was altogether unlikely to be held accountable. And after some time, he was forced to admit to himself a begrudging respect for his new best friend (though, as Ty was his only friend outside of daycare, it was a “best” friendship by default). As much as he would have loved to rule in an approximation of a petty dictatorship, he found that being first among equals was nearly as good.

This friendship would continue on for another couple of years, interrupted by the start of school, and then Ty’s move away to somewhere known as Bothell. By then, of course, Tex would have made another friend, and this one would remain his best friend until they both reached high school (or, more accurately, two-thirds of the way through middle school). But for this brief time in his life, Tex enjoyed his friendship, and when it finally came to an end, as the majority of friendships eventually must, it was with a heavy heart and steely resolution that he finally said goodbye, though it had helped that his sleepover in Bothell had been an unmitigated disaster, which had left both friends eager for its conclusion.


Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch…

While weekdays were spent at daycare, and weekends divvied up between his place and his friend’s, Fridays were reserved for something special. These were the days which he spent with his grandfather. They would get together and go off on adventures, sometimes to the hardware store, and sometimes to the Jiffy Mart. But no matter where they went, it was always the high point of the young boy’s week.

Never having known his father, Tex latched on to the time he spent with his mother’s dad, and relished in the opportunity to explain (at some great length) about everything which had been going on that week. His grandfather would listen patiently, never interrupting (though this author is certain that there must have been times when the old man would have preferred to chew off his own leg than hear another story about Masters of the Universe). Not surprisingly, then (considering how Mr. Batmart came to understand the nature of reality: that the universe seemed only to exist in order for someone or something to be able to thwart him), it wasn’t long until his grandfather’s good nature paid dividends.

They were on a mission to pick up something from the local hardware store, and the boy had been going on for quite some time about the exploits of Prince Adam (who, he was forced to repeatedly explain with growing exasperation was actually He-Man. He had given up entirely on the possibility of conveying to the old man what, exactly, a Battle Cat was), and the general state of affairs in Eternia, when, in the middle of the aisle, he raised up his hands (and, yes, his voice), and proclaimed to the entire crowd of customers in the establishment that, by the power of Greyskull, he had the power.

It was a bit anticlimactic when no one seemed to recognize what he was going on about, and he could not, for the life of him, understand why his grandfather could not seem to keep from laughing. There was nothing amusing about it, at least, not that he could see.

And on yet another occasion, riding back with his grandfather in his pickup truck, New York Seltzer in one hand and pack of bubble gum in the other, he very nearly caused a head-on collision with a tree. They were on their way back to his grandparents’ house from a quick run up to the Jiffy Mart (the finest chain of convenience stores in all of Bainbridge Island), and in the midst of an ongoing oratory regarding the pros and cons of his ownership of the entire collection of He-Man action figures, vehicles, and playsets, he paused to thank his grandfather for having purchased him the gum.

His grandfather had been ready to respond in genuine appreciation for the young boy’s manners when Tex, in a nod to his complete and utter lack of decorum and impeccable comic timing, continued:

                “Yeah,” he said, in a now-conspiratorial tone, “Mom won’t let me have the damn stuff.”

His grandfather’s head snapped to face the boy, and for a moment, his hands followed as well, aiming the truck inadvertently from its course along the road to a row of trees which ran alongside of it. He snapped out of it in time, and managed to shake it off, correct his course, and avoid certain collision, but he was still dumbfounded by the way in which his grandson had so casually (and with contextual accuracy), begun to swear.

It wasn’t, he noted, said for shock value, or to test the limits of parental regulation, but rather used as anyone much older might have used it. He thought back to when he and his wife had taken the boy out to dinner at one of their favorite restaurants, and his grandson had explained (in that clear and piercing, matter of fact tone which only the truly young and innocent possess) that his mother didn’t want him to use the “F-word”, except, of course, he failed to see the need to substitute a euphemism.

His wife was quicker to respond that time, owing, perhaps, to the fact that she hadn’t accidentally aspirated a large sip of cabernet sauvignon, and told the boy that since his mother didn’t want him to use that word, perhaps he shouldn’t use it.

To read the next installment, click here

Hiraeth Excerpt (Interlude: Animals And Other Pets)

The following is an excerpt of:


The Boy Who Dreamed and the Big Bad Wolf Which He Became

By Tex Batmart

If you haven’t been with us from the start, check out Chapter One here

Interlude: Animals And Other Pets

The young boy had grown up without a pet of any sort. His mother was deathly allergic to felines (the inspiration for his purchase of a cat when he moved out at seventeen), and had stated repeatedly that it would be unfair to own a dog, since neither he nor his mother were home enough to spend the time with it which it would almost certainly require. Having never had much experience with animals, therefore (outside of the usual baby and toddler toys which made noises at the slightest swing of a door, turn of a dial, or press of a button), it came as no surprise that he always viewed animals with healthy level of mistrust. A dozen or so years later, he mused if perhaps animals reacted to him based upon his own deeply-seated prejudices. Either way, the reality of the situation was that he never truly felt comfortable around them.

When he was seven or eight (or maybe it was nine or ten), his mother took pity on him and his desire toward pet ownership, and purchased him an aquarium, and allowed him to pick out a fish. The only thing which he would be able to recall regarding any of this was that the fish was black, and quite possibly demented. It would swim up to the waterline to snap its jaws at bubbles, and then shoot downward to gather up and shoot out pebbles. Never the one to pass up an opportunity to categorize something, the young man (who would, one day, grow into legend) christened his pet fish, Poppinsink. It wasn’t really much of a name, but, to be fair, neither was it much of a fish.

When it was discovered floating upon its back, Tex petitioned of his mother that he be allowed to conduct an autopsy (for he was of an age when he was interested in how things work), only to be denied. Thwarted, he set about planning an elaborate funeral for his pet, all the while intending to exhume it just a day or two later, or when his mother had forgotten. Unfortunately, he wound up sidelined by distraction, and kept indoors by heavy rain, and by the time he had remembered, the little marker under which he’d buried his first pet had washed away.

It wouldn’t be until he was a man that Tex Batmart would have the opportunity to try his hand again at caring for an animal. As was mentioned earlier, when he had left home in his late teens, one of the first acts to which he committed himself was the ownership of a cat. Initially, its name was to be Karma, but then he remembered a show from his childhood which he had adored, and named the cat instead, Snowmeow. Eventually, he combined both names (though the wee beast would respond to neither), to the effect of something vaguely Irish sounding.

Spurred on my his successful care of another creature, and that his girlfriend had too many, he soon became the owner of his very own dog, of the Bouvier des Flandres breed, by the name of Wizard. He bonded with his dog, seeing something of the attraction which led man to domesticate said beasts, and was therefore completely blindsided when Wizard wound up killing Snowmeow. In the end, he lost Wizard, as he had nowhere to keep him once he moved out on his own, and when he heard sometime later that his dog had died as well, he could not help but believe that perhaps it might have been better for him to have stopped with Poppinsink.

To read the next installment, click here

Hiraeth Excerpt (Chapter Four)

The following is an excerpt of:


The Boy Who Dreamed and the Big Bad Wolf Which He Became

By Tex Batmart

If you haven’t been with us from the start, check out Chapter One here

Chapter Four

It has been noted that, having grown up an only child, Mr. Batmart never truly had the opportunity to learn a great many fundamental social skills. It is not this author’s place to disagree with the aforementioned sentiment, but one does feel obligated to qualify said statement.

While he was, indeed, the sole child residing with his mother, he had been forced to socialize with all manner of tiny people since being interned in daycare. For those younger than himself, he had always felt great affection, and tried to help them where he could, while his relationships with the older kids were always slightly more problematic. On more than one occasion, he has admitted that he viewed those bigger boys and girls as nothing more than case studies, sneaking glimpses of techniques and mannerisms which were still unknown to him. This often came across as hero worship, though he would be quick to remind you that nothing was further from the truth: he merely stayed close to them so that he might better understand the situations which one day he might face.

As for his interactions with adults, he was well ahead of the social curve, aside from when his passions got the better of him, and let slip the hidden nature of his machinations. Perhaps it was that he had no one his own age with whom to interact once he had returned home, as his mother had no other children, his aunt had none at all, and his uncle’s two boys lived several states away. That left him to learn how to navigate the swirling inconsistencies of interpersonal relations in the master class at which the average adult might operate.

Soon, he began to feel more comfortable around them as well, having also determined through careful observation, that children were generally inconsistent, and while a grownup might not act in such a manner as to capitulate to one’s every whim, they could, at the very least, be counted upon to act rationally, at least within the guidelines of their own personal worldviews. It is no surprise, then, that it wasn’t until he had gained four years of age that he was able to formulate a friendship with someone his own age.

The new daycare to which he had been shipped was, at least from our young protagonist’s viewpoint, a step in the right direction. The woman who considered herself in charge of all the children was generally kind, though possessed the type of face which had caused him some measure of discomfort upon their initial introduction. And while he wasn’t thrilled about having to learn an entirely new set of rules, he found the open space outdoors and adjacent wilderness of twisting paths which cut through forests of Scotch Broom like mazes more than made up for it.

In the beginning he wasn’t allowed unfettered access to the great outdoors, but once he’d been there awhile, and had befriended a school aged boy named Mark, he was granted conditional visitation into the wild. Most days, though, at least during the summer months, when the temperatures rose up to a sweltering seventy degrees, he was content to run back and forth through the sprinkler which his captor had been kind enough to set up on the lawn.

It was the year before he would begin attending elementary school when he had the opportunity to make himself a new friend. Mark was now gone for most of the day, and during the late morning and early afternoon, young Tex had begun to feel his absence. Sure, there were toys, and stories (some of which he had recently begun to read all on his own), but there were times when, after school had started for the day, that he was all alone. That is, until one day in late autumn, another little boy began arriving at his daycare.

This new kid was the same age, and always brought some neat toys, though Tex viewed him with a small measure of suspicion as he knew absolutely nothing about baseball cards. Still, after a week or two, once the wary circling had faded into just a hollow gesture, the two boys began to play in earnest, and little Batmart was thrilled that, from his position of seniority, he was able to teach this new kid something or two about the conditions of their captivity.

When they played outdoors, they were to remain in the front lawn; the Scotch Broom and back lawn were strictly off-limits. No yelling, hitting, or (and this one, personally, felt like an attack upon our hero) biting. Any toys brought from home must be shared, or they would be confiscated. Snacks must be eaten at the kitchen table, and completely finished before one was excused and allowed to return to play. Naptime was non-negotiable: if a child wasn’t tired, he could just lay there silently until time had expired, but was not able to play with toys, or even bring a book along to stave off the inevitable boredom which would follow. As he ran through these many regulations, clarifying any vague points and making sure to spell out the consequences for non-compliance, Tex came to realize that perhaps the only thing which had kept him outmaneuvered at every turn since his arrival had been the simple lack of an accomplice.

It took longer than he might otherwise have preferred to bring the new boy up to speed, and somewhere along the way, he was forced to adopt a façade of respectful deference, as Ty seemed to believe that simply because one is more naturally extroverted, he should be the one to call all of the shots. At first, young Tex was taken quite aback, for if there was anything which he disliked almost as much as bathtime, it was someone of obviously subordinate capacity who quite clearly believed that he was somehow the brains of each and every operation. Soon, however, it was made clear to our pre-Kinder hero that there were definite benefits to remaining in the shadows, most notably in the areas of discipline and watchfulness.

While Ty delighted in the limelight (and remained perplexed as to why it was only ever he which seemed to be placed upon Time Out), Tex began mastering the arts of subliminal messaging, and reverse psychology. And while he remained unable to directly withstand an interrogation, he found that if he had merely nudged Ty early enough in roughly the right direction, he could answer honestly that it hadn’t been his idea. Was he uncomfortable about selling his friend down the river when the heat was on? Perhaps, perhaps not. It is more likely that he simply felt that if one didn’t wish to wind up facing punishment, one best not be caught.

Another benefit to this comradeship-in-arms was that it opened up the possibility of there being something to do upon the weekends. While he would have never openly admitted it, Tex had grown accustomed to being around other people under four feet tall, and every weekend, he would be deprived of them. Sure, there were cartoons on Saturday morning, and his growing LEGO collection provided hours of entertainment. But there were certain things that simply could not be done alone, as well as the fact that if anything conceivably “irregular” occurred, he was the prime (and only) suspect. Soon after befriending Ty, he was made aware of another option: going to his friend’s house to play (or, failing that, inviting his friend to come and play with him).

At first either option suited him just fine, but it rapidly dawned on him that he rather liked the way that his things were set up, and rules by which he made believe, and that his friend, useful as he might have been, just didn’t seem to understand this very well, which especially irritated him when his mother made him aware of the social traditions involved in the host-guest relationship. That in mind, he made a concerted effort to permanently relocate their play dates to the home of his best friend.

But, as it should be obvious to anyone who has been with us since this tale began, this new plan did not come without its costs: Ty was in possession of a dog. Not some cute canine like was often featured on television, but a massive, drooling beast which made a point of always barking and running full speed at visitors of shorter stature.

I suppose that I should take the time here for a brief interlude to explain our hero’s feelings towards animals.

To read the next installment, click here

Hiraeth Excerpt (Chapter Three)

The following is an excerpt of:


The Boy Who Dreamed and the Big Bad Wolf Which He Became

By Tex Batmart

If you haven’t been with us from the start, check out Chapter One here

Chapter Three

It seems as though a bit of levity may now be in order, for our tale grew slightly more somber than was necessarily intended. Have no fear, however, dear reader, for reality and relative chronology are on your side today. If there was a dearth of information regarding Mr. Batmart’s second year, then this author is quite literally at a loss for words to describe what little to nothing remains of the events which transpired during his thirty-seventh to forty-eighth months. Of course, failing reliable intelligence from this era, we may, once more, fall back upon our dearest servants, Gossip and Apocrypha (a pleasant lady of vaguely Greek origin), to help us to fill in the details. As was mentioned in Chapter Two, our hero did not earn the honorific of “the Terrible” until this period in his young life. And, as with all tales regarding the dangers of prepubescent Hubris, the path which he rode to his inevitable fall from grace was littered with small victories and a plethora of unintended humor.

It was during this most formative of years, when the young boy first learned how to curse. Like most skills which he would later come to treasure, this was imparted to him by his grandmother. It was a summer day, the sky blue above, and his grandmother had set him in her car so that they might depart for somewhere marginally more entertaining. Having secured the child in place, she lost control of the heavy door which she’d been holding ajar, and soon felt the fury of its full weight upon her ring and middle fingers as it casually swung back into place before she could think to extricate her hand. A quick exhalation, more reaction to her foolishness than toward the throbbing of her middle digits, and the word had cleared her lips and nestled upon the tiny ears of the young man strapped into his car seat in the back. For a moment, there was an oppressive silence, and his grandmother began to think that perhaps he hadn’t heard. But then, like the whisper of some demented angel, came a tiny voice, whose single word she found she could not bear to hear.

                “Damn, Grandma?”

She let out a sigh in hopeless resignation, trying with all her guile to conceal any reaction from the boy, that he might not see the power of this word.

                “Damn? Damn, Grandma?”

For the next few minutes, she tried to reason with him, explaining that it wasn’t really all that nice of a word (and then silently cursing herself upon witnessing the gleam within his eye as it dawned upon him that this new word was a word which they didn’t want him to know or say), and that his mother wouldn’t like it all that much if she heard him using it. That, of course, only inspired him onward, a cascade of sing-song epithets now parading out of his mouth. She finally gave up, and just ignored him for a while, at which point, she assumed that he’d lost interest. Truth be told, this new class of word intrigued him, but he saw that after so much repetition, it seemed to lose some of its efficacy. Well, that, and his mouth had begun to tire. A year later, an incident occurred involving this very word and his grandfather wherein he nearly caused a major vehicular collision, but that is a tale for another time.

Having been ambulatory for quite some time, and having also come to terms with the limitations of his toddling form, little Tex had decided that it was time to put aside the pastimes of his infancy and set about conquering the world. As with most of his plans for total conquest, it seems that he did not take fully into account the sheer mass of resistance which he was sure to face. It was logical to him (as it ever would remain) that he knew better than most everybody, and it would be far simpler, and infinitely less painful, would the universe just do him the simple favor of genuflecting at his uttered will.  And, while the universe itself may have been inclined to hand him the reins, it seemed that mankind most certainly did not share that same desire. More and more he was punished for demanding that which he felt must surely have been his (as he had seen it, and therefore wanted it), and frankly, that level of unending negativity was his own undoing.

Whereas he had been known, just scant months before, to be a personable sort of fellow, he now could barely be taken out of his own house, for fear that he might attack someone. Not with his fists, of course, as even the young man knew that he possessed not nearly enough upper body strength for it to be worth the expenditure of effort, but with his teeth, which were, though diminutive in appearance, just as strong as anyone around him, and his jaw capable of wielding them with preternatural speed and force. It wasn’t that he went out of his way to sink his teeth into random passersby, but if they were foolish or inconsiderate enough to violate the no-fly zone of his personal space (defined here, for clarity, as anything within his range of motion), he made sure that they wouldn’t be so flippant about it as to try again. This worked fine for the boy, as he had grown quite weary of interpersonal relations, but it was somewhat vexing to his mother, who was unable to remain a hermit and slave to his many whims.

But, like all good tales, this too came to an end when he finally managed to bite the wrong person at precisely the wrong time. His grandfather had warned him away from such an attack, and, out of thanks for having given him those delicious leather slippers, the boy had respected their uneasy truce. But one day, he decided that there was nothing so offensive to him as a rule which stood unbroken, and he marched solemnly upon his dear old grandpa. Again came the warning against an action which he could not hope to win, but little Batmart had girded up his loins, and committed himself to battle. He darted haphazardly within the giant’s reach and managed to land a clean shot upon his hand. Had he been a student of history, he might have drawn parallels to World War II, and the United States’ response to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Had he been a more active listener, he would have heard the steely tone devoid of compromise in his grandfather’s warning. Had he been the master tactician which he believed himself to be, he would have delayed his potty training for at least another year.

His grandfather’s counterattack was as swift as it was precise, and, mere seconds after he had notched another victory upon the scored linoleum of the kitchen floor, he was handed his most decisive defeat. It would not be for another dozen years that he would have to face the shame of being on the losing team of such a one-sided victory, but in those wars, the stakes were raised, and all bans against chemical weaponry thrown firmly to the wind (I speak, of course, of the trials of adolescence, and first loves, wherein pheromones are finally introduced into the mix, acting as nerve agents on the minds of all young men). For a moment, he stood where he was, time having stopped in a moment of sheer shocked panic. His grandfather had never hit him! Never! It was completely out of character for the man, and, he told himself, there had been no way for him to have predicted it.

His defensive counter came into action just a moment later, sparing him the necessity of having to consciously call up tears. It wasn’t the pain which had caused the boy to weep, though he was certainly willing to admit that it was not a sensation which he cared for all that much. Nor was it the seeming betrayal of someone he had considered dear to him, for he knew grownups to be treacherous and disturbingly obsessed with carrying out injustices upon him such as bedtimes, broccoli and baths. In his mind, what had truly wounded him was that he hadn’t seen it coming. As the tears continued rolling down his cheeks, and his cries rose in pitch and harmonized with themselves as they bounced around the hallway at right angles, he tried his best to digest this utter failure. Perhaps he would have to find another way, he dared considering, in that dark moment.

An hour later, he had buried his failure deep inside, and, from all outward appearances, seemed to have forgotten the entire incident, save for a small flinch at the sound of his grandfather’s voice, or how he seemed to give everyone a wide berth as he passed by. Appeasement hadn’t worked, and even if it had, he knew that he simply didn’t have the requisite energy for it to be a seriously implemented strategy, nor had direct conflict seemed to work, either. If there was only some other way, he thought furiously to himself, some way to combine the two: launch an assault with the hostility of unadulterated aggression beneath the passive camouflage of acquiescence.

Around the same time, his mother had been forced to find a new prison to hold him while she was away, as his last warden had insisted that he leave, as he had developed a tendency to share intimately his frustrations with anyone around him, which, if allowed to continue, could cost the warden her precious license to operate her pre-Kinder hoosegow. The bitter sting of defeat still lingered in his mouth (as well as firmly upon his tender buttock), and he was determined to find a more sinister, and altogether safer method of attack. There were weeks of trial and error, and a seemingly unending parade of humiliations visited upon him, but eventually, he came up with a plan.

To read the next installment, click here

Hiraeth Excerpt (Interlude: On Fatherhood)

The following is an excerpt of:


The Boy Who Dreamed and the Big Bad Wolf Which He Became

By Tex Batmart

If you haven’t been with us from the start, check out Chapter One here

Interlude: On Fatherhood

It has been observed by this author that the lack of a father does not necessarily preclude the healthy and otherwise normal development of a child, nor the does presence of said paternal force ensure that a child will turn out all right in the end. And, though his childhood was spent in the absence of his father, our protagonist did have many father figures from which to pick and choose. As we will see in later chapters, however, it was this void that he felt so keenly as child which helped to shape him into the man which he would later become. Perhaps it is for the best that he never witnessed the failure of his parents’ marriage, as walking through its aftermath was certainly more than enough. But one cannot help but wonder if it mightn’t have allowed him to lower his expectations, even if just a very little.

When the time came for his own attempt at fatherhood, he found himself spectacularly unprepared for the task at hand, though it had been one of the many goals to which he’d driven himself to attain. In those times, when his patience was long expired, and he seemed at the very precipice of tears, he would think back to the kind, and gentle natures of the men who’d helped him along, pleading with his memories for any sort of guidance. Ultimately, however, he came to understand that their successes had been predicated upon a sort of inexhaustible supply of good humor and delicate care, as well as a basic understanding of simple human interaction, something which he knew that he could never match, and so, instead of standing upon the shoulders of these great men, he fell silent in their shadows.

When he was a child, however, it was all much simpler for him. Without an understanding of complex human mating rituals, the nuance of “boyfriend” was beyond him, and so every man who wooed his mother was immediately interrogated as to whether he would propose to her. This, of course, was a natural reaction to the programs which he watched on television by his mother’s side, as well as an upbringing within the constructs of Traditional Family Values. It never occurred to him that these men might want something anything less than forever, because, even from an early age, he knew the words, “’Til death do we part.”

Of course, he also was quite interested in obtaining a younger brother, one whom he could command around the house and force to do his bidding, and, failing that, someone to fall back upon should the need for a well-placed scapegoat suddenly arise. He’d heard conflicting stories of how little siblings were most commonly generated, but, having ruled out extraordinarily large birds, and vegetable gardens, he deduced that it was something which required a mommy and a daddy, and of these two necessary ingredients, he had but just the one. In later life, he would brush aside his secret desire to have had a younger sibling, and instead insist that he had only been worried about the happiness of his mother. Alas, it is this author’s misfortune to relay that our hero remained an only child, his mother having never chosen to remarry (though he was to learn later that marriage wasn’t entirely integral to the production of the successive generation), and his dreams of brotherhood had to be transferred to his two best friends, both of whom were older (by a month or two), and also both called Dave.

To read the next installment, click here

Hiraeth Excerpt (Chapter Two)

The following is an excerpt of:


The Boy Who Dreamed and the Big Bad Wolf Which He Became

By Tex Batmart

If you haven’t been with us from the start, check out Chapter One here

Chapter Two: Daycare Boogaloo

While for most children, their second year of life is tenderly referred to as the “terrible twos”, it has been noted that our protagonist did not suffer the same fate. Rather, it was at this point (and, according to some sources, only at this point) in his life, that he was outgoing, engaging, and otherwise extroverted. There has been some speculation as to why he postponed the outward stirrings of rebellion, but it is the opinion of this author that he preferred to keep his enemies off-guard, and had overheard somewhere of the strategy of homicide by pleasantry.

Ultimately, of course, he discovered that this friendliness gained him absolutely nothing beyond the expectation of continued good behavior, and by his third year, he had almost entirely abandoned this tactic, except in the most dire of emergencies, or when he really, really wanted something.

Records from this time are few are far between, but it was during his second year that he decided to liberate himself from the tyranny of diapers. It has been reported that it was most likely a combination of an attempt to emulate the older kids by which he was now constantly surrounded, and an extreme dislike of the discomfort of carrying on while trapped within the confines of a soiled and clinging diaper. Of course, the real reason he began to utilize the facilities was, in fact, a two-pronged method of attack: The first, of course, was to continue in his campaign to gain the (foolish) trust of those in some position of authority above him (or so they continued to believe).

The other was far more devious and subtle: by ditching the padded protection which his Pampers could provide, he would be able to lull the maternal unit into a false sense of security, a weakness which he could then exploit at a moment of his choosing, by declaring a state of gastro-intestinal emergency, requiring a complete and total cancellation of all plans which she might have chosen to pursue.

But, aside from laying the groundwork for eventual domination and subjugation of those wills weaker than his own, there were two events which he would carry with him far past the time when every other memory had long since faded into nothing more stories told around the fire at family reunions and other opportunities for his mother to use his life as nothing more than a tired and tried old punchline. The first of these was arguably the least important. As soon as he had potty-trained himself, his mother took him to partake in his very first swimming lesson.

He wouldn’t be able to retell much of this in future years, but the image of vaulted wooden ceilings somewhere in between a longhouse and cathedral, and being completely surrounded by a deep blue sea, pleasantly warm, but slightly off-putting in its aroma, stuck with him powerfully. He managed to find a center, within himself, of peace in his deepest terror. In future years, when this memory resurfaced, he would cling to it as some sort of proof of concept that such a state could be found once more, though he was never to wholly recreate it, no matter how diligently he endeavored.

The second memory, however, stuck with him much as flaming napalm is wont to do with skin. It was an afternoon. Overcast, if the memory is to be believed. The young boy, his life still measured by many in months, plays in the living room while the black and white television airs something which doesn’t terribly interest him. There is a knock upon the door. This, in itself, is not unusual, as his great-grandmother who lives next door is a frequent visitor.

He glances with the indifference of someone who has not known sorrow at his mother as she opens the curtain to see who is outside. He knows that momentarily, he and his mother will have a visitor, and he will have to be quiet, or pick up his toys, or have to perform some little song and dance (quite literally, I might add) to entertain whomever has decided to drop by. Aside from a moment of discomfort at the notion of an unplanned performance, he turns back to his toys, and tries his hardest to push the unpleasantries from his mind. But then something unexpected happens.

His mother slams the curtain shut, as much as fabric sliding upon a rod may actually be slammed, and scoops him to standing, pushing him quickly, though not entirely roughly, toward his bedroom door. He doesn’t know what’s going on, but he’s never seen her act like this before. She opens the door and scoots him inside. He wonders for a moment if he’s done something wrong, as this timeout is coming from out of nowhere. She then speaks to him, “I want you to press yourself up against your door as hard as you can, okay?” She looks over her shoulder briefly, then turns back to him. “There’s a bad man at the door.”

She closes him in his room, and he does as he is told, listening for any clue as to what is going on. He cannot make out the words, but he easily recognizes his mother’s tone, for it is the same one which he uses when he’s trying to get something which she has no intention of allowing him to have. Only catching snippets as the sun begins to sink, he manages to make out “You can’t be here,” and “I’m going to call the Sheriff.”

Images of bandits in black hats began racing through his brain, for sheriffs still rode horses and all bad men were easily identifiable even in shades of grey. There was then silence, and the sound of the phone’s rotary being dialed. Now he could only hear his mother’s scared and broken tone as she was speaking to somebody.

Some time must have passed, as the sun had all but disappeared from behind the solid grey sky outside. He hears another knock upon his door, and then his grandfather’s voice. There is some more talk, quieter than the young child would have preferred, but his mother’s voice sounds calmer now. As he begins slipping through the cracks between boredom and sleep, a raised voice stirs him back to waking, “You can’t come here,” his grandfather booms, “The Sheriff is on his way.”

It is then that the boy finally succumbs to sleep, his anxiety having thoroughly exhausted him. When he wakes up again, there is no more talk of what had happened, and the only thing which he remembers for the next few years is an image of a man on horseback chasing after some villain of the week.

In the years to come, he pieces together the story of that day, mostly in surprised reaction to the fact that he can remember any of it in the first place. Since their divorce, his mother had gone to a judge to have a restraining order placed upon her ex-husband. Apparently, during the final months of their marriage (and the first months of our hero’s embryonic life), he had attempted to strangle her, trying to end both her life, and the life of their child which grew within her.

When he showed up on her doorstep that autumn afternoon, his mother did her best to send him on his way. Seeing that he wouldn’t leave, she then placed a call to her father so that she might not have to face this threat alone. By the time the child’s grandfather had arrived, his father had taken his leave. Later, though, he returned once more, and this time did not leave until the sheriff took him away.

The lesson which our young protagonist gleaned from all of this was that his mother considered his father to be a “bad man.” Of course, this conclusion would not be arrived at until he had reached the venerable age of ten years old, but even without all of the pertinent information, this incident would color and continue shaping him throughout his entire life, as he attempted to come to terms with who he was, and how to balance just how much of his father he might carry within him.

To read the next installment, click here

Hiraeth Excerpt (Chapter One)

The following is an excerpt of:


The Boy Who Dreamed and the Big Bad Wolf Which He Became

By Tex Batmart

Chapter One

Our story begins, as most stories do, on a storm-soaked December afternoon in the Pacific Northwest. Hang on. Statistically speaking, almost no stories begin like that. Nevertheless, our tale must carry on. I suppose we could go back a ways, and briefly tell of the love between a man and woman which endured nearly the requisite number of minutes for our hero to be conceived, but that is another tale entirely, and not one which this author is particularly interested in retelling. Suffice it to say, that when our hero came into this world, he did so into an already broken home, the vessel of a fading, jaded love which a bruised and beaten woman had infused with all her hopes and dreams for an uncertain future.

Our hero, of course, knew nothing of this, knew nothing much at all, save for the newly-gleaned understanding of the differences between dark and light, warm and chill, weightlessness and gravity, and a rapidly developing preference between the lot of them. Gone was the soothing rhythm of his mother’s beating heart. Gone was the safety and security of an existence at the center of his own personal universe. I am convinced that he never fully recovered from these losses.

Within an hour of residency within the nursery, he was returned to his mother under the pretext of having incited a neonatal revolution. Even minutes old, he didn’t take too kindly to disappointment. Life, such as it was, had been thrust upon him, and he didn’t much care for it, truth be told. No one had warned him that things would be so jarring, so cold and desiccating, for the first time in his brief (measured by the pulsing beatings of his heart) life, and as he filled his belly, and fell, troubled, into sleep, he had no idea what it was that he would do, or how he might come to repay these slights visited upon him during his moments of vulnerability.

For the first year of his life, he and his mother stayed with her parents, as she struggled to make sense of her own broken life. A failed marriage, single motherhood, and the shame of the necessity of returning to the house in which her parents had made their home (and lasting marriage, she bitterly chastised herself), did not sit well with her. For the child, however, it was a wonderland of near-constant attention from interesting people. What he loved more than anything, however, was a pair of leather slippers which had previously belonged to his grandfather. I say previously, because as soon as he could crawl, the child made his way over to them, and began to gum them into submission in a release of his frustration at having several bony protrusions slowly tear their way free of his still tender gums. His mother was always snatching away his slippers, but the child never failed to find them once again, as long as no one was looking.

It was during this time, that he made his first friend. Having grown tired of the removal of his playthings, and this new vocalization, “No!”, he came to befriend a flower-print couch which he was occasionally imprisoned upon. It never said much, but always seemed to be there for him, listening for hours on end, without interruption, as he practiced his nascent idiomancy. Oh, the tales of tiny victories and heartbreaking injustices which he imparted to his dual-natured cellmate and prison. Inevitably, however, his sentence was commuted, and he was separated from his friend and captor. Actually, as memory serves (though it rarely does), it was around the time when he had mastered his plan of escape that he was whisked away. Normally, he was allowed brief moments outside of his cell to exercise himself upon the pea green shag carpeting of the prison yard, but this time, he was taken somewhere new, somewhere his couch and confidant could never follow. Worse than that, he would soon come to understand that it would now be just he and his mother living together. The final indignity, of course, the event which would set him upon his path and remind him of cooed promises made moments after birth, was his enrollment in something he once overheard described as “daycare.”


To read the next installment, click here