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The inheritance of a boy named Twenty-
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The inheritance of a boy named Twenty-
"Hi, my name is Twenty, and I'm an alcoholic.
I'm here tonight ... Shi#...shi...
I can't believe that I'm here. But I'm quite certain, it's because of the prayers of my father. My father who I haven't seen or spoken to, for... almost five years now. I'm sure he has been prayin' for me to come home... to finally have this... this, 'Come to Jesus'-like moment. But... but my Dad wasn't always such a...such a saint.
"I suppose you wonder how I got my weird name... well, I used to think that my story, like my name, was unique, but havin' listened to some of your stories here tonight, I come to realize that I'm...ahemmmmm... That my own story is not really anything all that special."
Twenty, throughout this night's long and torturous meeting, continued to keep his gaze on the turning, wobbly ceiling fan above the group of people now in front of him. Even here, in this meeting, he couldn't stand to have to endure yet another pity filled gaze from well meaning people hearing the story of his name. The pity and empathetic looks grew old and quite empty to his mind. Probably because nothing good ever came from them anyways.
He forced himself on, concentrating solely on syncing the 'huumph, huumph' sound of that unbalanced fan, with its out of control, turning blades.
"You see, my Dad, before I was born, was a legendary party hound of sorts. He never went a day...or a night without living out a crazy life of 'Par- Tay! Par-Tay'. Maybe you heard of him... old 'Ramblin' Jake the cocktailin' snake', I heard they called him... Ummmm... No? well it was a couple towns over from here, and many years ago, I guess. It was Ramblin' Jake's life ambition, I heard, to have for himself more women and jobs than he had drinks or cocktails to consume. And he consumed a lot of them. As you can imagine, he never was very sober, and he could never really keep a job very long ...that is, not until he met my Mom... And then, when she became pregnant ...I guess it was almost 19 years ago...
Well... that really changed his life... and he even got a job and quit drinkin', cold turkey, my Grandpap told me."
"According to what my Grandma Bekah, my mom's mom, told me... because my Dad would never really talk about it... She told me that, when my Dad found out that he was gonna become a father... well that really began to change his wild, partyin' ways... and then, when he found out my mom was gonna have twins ... a boy AND a girl, he used to strut around in front of everybody. Proudly calling his soon to be twin children his 'clear-vision' for his life.
"My grandma Bekah said that he would even joke with my Mom, that he was gonna name his twins, 'Twenty and Twenty' , because of this new found cleared up vision for his life... So...so... I guess when it all went wrong... on that day that I was born... ahemmmm... Where I was born... and... and my twin sister was ...ahemmm... not... born...Well, not alive anyways... and then... when my mother...she began to bleed terribly and lost...lost..."
He squinted his eyes tighter, watching that fan go round. Its bouncing,hanging light bulbs giving off light ray's that stung and pierced through his eyelashes, with little crosses of white light that seemed to go straight through his retina, down into his gullet, and puncture his own already bursting heart.
He went on with his story, that he told probably hundreds of times before, "... so... so... so...much blood herself that the doctors... the doctors,they k... k... could... they couldn't save her, and I guess she basically bled to death right there in delivery."
He turned his head aside to stare at the shutter covered windows overlooking the street. Avoiding having to see, yet again, those cross-filled water orbs that attacked his eyes and pierced him through. Twenty despised the sounds of shuffling plastic chairs and plastic empathetic sighs and sniffles, interspersed with some throat clearing and phony coughs. ALL only noises that loudly and annoyingly drowned out his comforting 'huumph, huumph' distracting rhythm of the fan.
After about a minute of silence, when that fan finally got its beat back, Twenty continued on, "Well, my Dad... when he filled out my birth certificate... my grandma says that he shouted out, 'F*#@ you God!'," he gulped for air, not even sure if the sound was his, or if it came from elsewhere.
" 'Twenty-twenty, vision my ass!', My father screamed ...'Look at THIS! and deal with THIS...THIS vision! God... you... Damn YOU GOD! ', he screamed into the air at God. Not sure again, if this was even his own voice, or his Father's voice, just playing for the thousandth time in his own tortured head.
"And then my Dad disappeared into the night," Twenty went on. "He didn't come back for... for, I guess that it was two and a half years. Anyways, on my birth certificate that night, he filled out my name as 'Twenty'...well
... if you think that's weird, then wait till you hear my middle name... it's... 'Twenty', as well. Yes, my name is Twenty Twenty Paretti," he shrugged his shoulders, as if they were familiar soldiers of hard-fought apathy. An apathy that always seemed to win his battles for him.
"I guess, my dad did that, as kind of a way of coping. Or a grieving rebellious act against God... or out of mourning my Mom... or maybe just as a way of honoring my dead sister... by giving to me, her name as my middle name," he dully laughs, and blinks away a few falling crosses.
"I don't know... All I know, is that he disappeared after signing it, so they were never able to talk him into changing it, or even get him to consider a more traditional name for me.
"But as I said, my Dad disappeared for quite a while. What exactly happened during that time, I'm not sure. And I never really asked him. But whatever happened, when he finally did come home to raise me, as a young boy, all I can remember is him being a great Dad who loved me an awful lot. I don't remember him ever bein' drunk, or even touching a drink... until... until ...well, I'll get into that, but, he used to bring me to church every week... or maybe it was even more times than that. It was a church a lot like this one... But, I remember that if he wasn't raising me, then my Grannie Bekah was takin' care of me ...and they both...they both, took great care of me.
"But then, one day when I was about thirteen, my father must have went on some kind of a bender, because he lost his job. My Grannie came and got me, and I lived with her for four or five months. One night and... after Grannie got done arguin' with my dad on the phone... she looked straight at me and said, 'Child, you got no hope of ever escapin' your Daddy's ways... You ARE doomed to be... just like him... Even... even when you were in your Momma's womb... she said... she said... it was probably your carousin' and carryin' on, that you inherited from that man, that killed your sweet sister... and killed my precious darlin', Rachel!' "
Only the mighty fan blades prompted him on, "It was... Grannie's dead stare... the way that... the things that she...the ...the...how can someone say that to their own grandkid? She just plopped that out... just shot it out there onto my... my plate... How can I?... How should I have?... What could I do? The guilt just... festered there in my little thirteen year old brain ... for... well... well, until... until now, even."
Those cross daggers kept striking his heart.
"I don't know anything about the medical issues of being pregnant and birthin'. But how can a little baby?... How can he kill his own sister in the... in the womb? How does that work? How can that...? How could I...?"
His eyes locked onto the fan blades... almost jealous of them, and how they could just go round and round like they knew their purpose, and didn't need anybody's love or permission... or forgiveness... they just... WERE. Huumph!, Huumph!, Huumph!, they uncaringly chided.
"But, when my dad finally came out of his bender and came home to get me... And when my Grandpa Ike told my Dad what Granny had said to me... well he was, I guess you would say, livid. He told her he could ... that he could never forgive her for sayin' that to me, and that she'll never see her grandson again. And to this day, I haven't seen Grandma Bekah.
Ooohhhhhhhh! I do miss my Grannie ... I guess ...I can...I should forgive her, or, or she should forgive me... I don't ... I don't know."
The sound from the fan seemed to just stop. Leaving his severed heart there bleeding for all to see, and only for him to hear.
"Well, soon after that, I ran away from home. Away from my Father. Away from Grandma, from the... my dead sister... from my Mom... from the... from the guilt... I... I just didn't know what to do with it. So I ran. I ran so far away. A fourteen year old runaway... yet I couldn't get away, so I drank... I drank and I drank... a fourteen year old, homeless drunk... I guess... Grannie was right."
Twenty clenched his eyes shut, and visions began to race through his mind's eye. Visions of his dad, the booze, the drinks, images of Jesus from his church days as a child. Beer bottles, Grannie, Jesus, Dad, the Blood, Mom, wine bottles, his dead sister, Jesus, jail bars, Grandpap, booze, Jesus, gin bottles, the Blood, Dad, parties, beer bottles, hookers, beer, girlfriends, Jesus on the cross, jail cells, Dad, booze, Jesus, Whiskey bottles, Blood, Jesus' blood, beer, throwing up, Jesus, vodka, hookers, Jesus, Grandma, more vommit, Jesus on the Cross, booze, Jesus, living out of a shopping cart, beer, Jesus, car crashes, Blood.
The images sped up... Jesus, beer, Dad, grandma, handcuffs, shopping carts, Jesus, dead sister, Jesus on the cross, Mom, Blood, Jesus on the cross, beer, Grannie, Jesus on the Cross, JESUS ON THE CROSS! JESUS... ON THE CROSS!
He pried open his eyes, and those fan blades seemed to be standing still. Like with every wobbling huumph, they jerked ahead one position, huumph...huumph... huumph.
"Please forgive me Father! I miss my Father...I miss my Grandma... I... I forgive my Grandma ... I hope my father can forgive her too!", he blurted out.
Those bright, stinging, white crosses began to penetrate him again. Twenty jumped away from the podium and stumbled through the rows of occupied seats, not able to even see a pity-filled face if even he wanted to. Finding, and falling into an empty chair, he glared up, still at those fan blades that began to move again. Moving so slowly, that they looked like they were turning in the opposite direction. Hoomph... hoomph... hoomph.
What am I even doing here? How do I get out of here? Will my dad want to even see me? How do I even know that he prays for me? He thought all these doubts to himself, not even noticing, or even caring to notice the electrified silence in the room. The comforting kind of silence that didn't need to come out of a noisy fan motor.
Suddenly, that silence was broken.
"Hi," a familiar voice crackled. "My name is Jacob Paretti, and I'm an alcoholic. And praise God!, my son has come back to me... at last!"
Twenty FINALLY tore his tormented, contemptuous gaze away from that space up above.
Inheriting redemption, after all!
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