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Excerpt from MacGregor Tells the World

     When did he start to do things wrong on purpose?  His instincts, if he admitted it to himself, had been perverse all his life.  His earliest memory was of a beloved stuffed cat toy, which he intentionally left behind in some bed, so that he could suddenly “remember” it and cause his mother inconvenience having to go back.  But it backfired!  They were miles away when he remembered, and she wouldn’t go back!  He cried until he was hiccupping and sick.  He cried for losing his cat, and cried because what he’d done made no sense even to himself.
     He remembered jumping up from bed when his mother's key rattled in the lock, late at night after work, so that he could run into the living room and turn on the TV and spread himself out pitifully in front of it, so she could yell at him for not being in bed and then curdle with shame.  He remembered taking change from Uncle Richard, grabbing coins from his neat bureau top where he was sure to miss them.  He knew he'd miss them.  He wanted the predictable homosapien to come after him.  As if in the punishment he would debase himself more than he could possibly debase Mac.  Then he remembered the way it felt to drink too much, night after night, and push away all the people who cared vaguely for him.  He remember chasing away a beautiful girl in the Tuileries near dusk with one too many snide comments, so that he never had to find out if she really could have liked him.  As he grew older, he over-adjusted.  He put on a disguise.  He rammed his head into Carolyn's life wearing the mask of an earnest suitor.  He remembered asking himself about the cold tunnels in his psyche, allowing him to steel himself without fear of pain.  His heart a ventilator, cooling his blood instead of bringing it to a passionate boil.  Was he bent on self-destruction?  And yet he wasn't suicidal.  Only once, on a howling windy day in Tres Osos when he was about fifteen, had he made a plan for his own demise.  He ran up into the hills with a rope.  He knew Dick-Dick alone wasn't worth killing himself over; but this wasteland, brown and crunchy in all directions, empty of beauty and hope and love and as alien to him as a moonscape--this wasteland was doing him in.  Not even a short-skirted teacher there to fall in love with.  Would he become one of those drooling hicks who raped barnyard animals and bragged about it?  Who watched his cousin undress through a keyhole?  He didn't even have a pet to love, Dick-Dick said animals made him itch.  Nothing for miles to attach himself to.  Was he destined to stay in this barren landscape forever?  A single oak grew at the top of the hill, a broad, tired oak overlooking the town.  That day he thought about hanging himself from it.  He threw the rope over a low branch and watched it wiggle in the wind.  He wanted his mother, wherever she was, to see what he was doing.  And that's how he knew it wouldn't work.  He wanted more from his life, not less.  He really didn't want to miss anything.  It was just that the elephant man anger in him had nowhere to go.  The anger he carried made him worthy of a freak show.  Come and see the Angry Man!  Step right up.  The one and only--the Greatest!  Keep the children away! 


My Postwar Life || Catamaran Literary Reader || Chicago Quarterly Review || Stop that Girl || MacGregor Tells the World || Short Stories || Early Years ||Accolades

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