Chapter 1 ~ The Four Letter Word
Her shrieking voice pierced through me like a needle being stuck into a helium filled balloon.
“Martin, wake up Martin,” she said with a voice that would curl straight hair. She didn’t pronounce my name as Martin. She drew it out as if it were a fifteen letter name Maarrt teeeeeeeen.
Her shrill, crackling voice disrupted my brain’s synapses. I no longer could tell if it was morning? Or, was it evening? Where was I? My brain’s electrical circuits short circuited. Electrical signals were frantically searching to find the breakers and reset them. The voice stopped. Silence. Then, I heard foot steps carefully measured and strutted as if she were on the red carpet, walking across my floor, passing the front of my bed, nearing the windows. The footsteps stopped, then the sound of drapes being pulled open followed by the harsh glare of sunlight splashing cold water across my face.. I thought I must be at Guantanamo. Did the CIA give me a mind altering drug and whisk me away while I was unconscious?
The voice from hell moved away from the windows and drew closer to the bed. She said, “Martin, Martin. You know what day it is. Father and I discussed this with you over dinner last night. You promised you would cooperate.”
I am in Dante’s eighth circle of hell, there is no other explanation for what I am experiencing. Mother’s voice, now part nasal, part sweeter than maple syrup, all seasoned with liberal dose of guilt. Why was I born Episcopalian? Episcopalians are almost Catholic where the keys to guilt are tightly held.
“Martin? Martin, dear, it’s time to wake up. You’ve got a big day ahead of you. It’s your first day at work.”
My muffled voice came from under my pillow, “Easy for you to say, Mother. You don’t work. You’ve never worked. Let me rot away. Feed me to the lions. I don’t want to live. I don’t want to work. I don’t know how to work. I want to go to school.”
Mother’s voice was growing more calm by the second. She placed her hand on edge of my pillow and I could feel her energy sending pulsating waves of gamma rays through me. “Don’t be so dramatic, Martin. You know I was born privileged and I’m better than anyone you know, including Father, but don’t tell him. He can be such a dolt at times. Besides, he’s a Sanderstuff without a drop of Feathering blood in him.”
How many times have I heard that story? She wanted to marry her first cousin Alfred Feathering to keep the race pure, but they couldn’t get anyone to sign off on a marriage license. So, she settled for a Sanderstuff, what does that make me? I answered, “No, no, and no. I am not going to work. Now that we’ve settled that, let me go back to sleep so I can be rested to party tonight.”
“Now, Martin. Is that a way for a big boy to talk? You’ve been going to school since you were enrolled in pre school after your first birthday. You have a PhD. I admit Father had to speak to the dean and promise to contribute one hundred thousand dollars to the College’s endowment fund so you could get a waiver to finish.”
“The dissertation was a killer, Mother.”
“I know it was difficult, Martin. I wrote it for you.”
Oh she knew how to lay on the guilt. She never forgot anything. It was always near the surface ready to use.
“I didn’t mind writing it. I wrote all your papers since you were in third grade.”
I fought back, the best I could, “Not all of them. You hired a ghost writer from one of the publications houses.”
“True, dear. But I oversaw the project and made sure their work was perfect. It’s why you had so many A’s.”
She was on a roll piling guilt on thicker than turkey on a turkey rueben from Katz’s Deli in New York. Before I could answer, Mother was tugging at my pillow. “Martin, Martin let go or I’ll pull the covers off you.”
“I sleep nude,” I hollered.
“Who do you think changed your diapers where you were a child?”
“My nanny and wet nurse, Maria. You psychologically harmed me by making Maria stop breast feeding me.”
“You were six years old. Anyway, that’s besides the point. I watched her once in a while. Father is waiting for you. He made Peter polish your shoes. Nicole laid out your clothes. And, the biggest surprise of all, Victor made your favorite breakfast, a cherry Danish and coffee with a splash of cream.”
“Okay. Okay. I promise I’ll get up and shower and get dressed. Give me twenty minutes. Please?”
“If you are not out of the shower in ten minutes Oscar will come in and scrub you down.”
“No, not Oscar. What about Nicole? Can she shower with me?”
I peaked out from the side of my pillow hoping Mother would agree. I fantasize daily of having sex with Nicole, our Mexican maid. I don’t know and don’t care if she has a green card. I want to run away with her. Mother was shaking her forefinger at me as if it were a loaded gun.
“Stop thinking those thoughts. I can read your mind. Nicole is off limits. You know Father and I do not want you involved with someone who is not of our social standing. Besides, her brown skin is not from lying out by the pool, if you know what I mean. You know what happened to that terrible governor who talks funny from California?”
“What was wrong with that? I love her brown skin. I want to kiss her beautiful red lips, I want to caress her body.”
“No you don’t. The funny talking governor was simply eliminated from our class by his wife. He’ll never get back in. He can’t summer any longer in Martha’s Vineyard. And, he’ll be arrested if he shows up at the Cape. You don’t want to get tossed out of our class do you?”
Mother answered for me, “Of course you don’t. After you’re settled in your work we’ll throw a celebratory party for you and invite women we think are good for you.”
I was sitting up in bed, the blankets pulled up to my hairless chest, “Can it be a pool party so they’ll wear bikinis?”
I thought Mother was going to pass out. She gasped. Raised her hand to her head as if an aneurysm struck, “Oh God no. It will be very formal, nothing trashy about it. Now, hurry on. Father and I will be waiting at breakfast for you. Remember, Oscar is timing you.”
TRUST FUND BABY CONTINUES ON MONDAY