Publish Novellas 6 February 2022
EPISODE 1 – CRAZINESS
In this novella miniseries, a father raises his son in isolation from extended family under the notion that everyone else has harmful issues. But his child’s internet sleuthing uncovers a concealed dark past.
Marcus Alexander has a loving wife and a son who is tolerant of his addictions. The problem is that his vices are killing him. He is an obese disabled chain smoker who alternates shots of whisky with bottles of beer until passing out midday. High blood pressure and diabetes are not sufficient deterrents to alter his behavior.
Marcus avoids restaurants and non-essential outdoor activities. His routine provides a barrier of protection between his past life and present memories. When his wife or son asks about his isolation, Marcus deflects blame to his parents and siblings.
His divisive tales of familial dysfunction and mistrust are thirty percent fact tainted with seventy percent fiction. The stories win sympathy for himself and suspicion against the family with whom he grew up.
His son, Aaron, plies his father with questions about relatives. “Tell me about your father,” he asks.
“He is a no-good selfish scoundrel,” Marcus replies.
“What about my grandmother?”
“She is a violent crazy lady you would never want to meet.”
“Why don’t my uncles come by?”
“They’e part of dangerous cults. None of them love you because they’ve been brainwashed.”
The stories sadden and confuse Aaron. He feels unlovable while trying to imagine the impact of such events on his father. Marcus assures Aaron of his love and reminds him that their isolation from the outside world is for his protection.
More than a year after graduation, Aaron is still curious about his ancestry. So he submits his saliva to a website that does DNA testing. The results astound him.
According to the family tree, Aaron has a few siblings in the state. As an only child, he is not certain how to handle the information. Aaron fears that bringing the matter up with his parents could result in more familial dysfunction. At the same time, he feels his upbringing is shrouded in deceit.
Without mentioning the DNA test, Aaron plans an intervention with his father. On a day before Marcus passes out, Aaron asks, “Can we have a serious conversation without you drinking?”
“Sure, son. Let’s go in the backyard so I can have a smoke.” After sliding close the patio door, he continues, “What’s on your mind, Aaron?”
“I don’t want you to get angry… but why do you drink so much?”
“I’m not an alcoholic. I just have a high tolerance for alcohol. My father had a drinking problem. I’m nothing like him.”
“That brings up another question. Do you disparage our family to justify your isolation?”
“No, I do so because it’s true and I love you more than anything.”
“Do you love me more than Kensi?”
“What do you know about Kensi?” Marcus asks while squashing out one cigarette and lighting another.
“I’ve seen letters from her that you never discussed. Some seemed like greeting cards. I opened one in which she called you her dad.”
“Aaron, I’m sorry you found out that way. When I was young, I married her mother. Kensi, your half sister, was born with a mental defect. After a few years, Kensi’s mother and I divorced. I communicate with them to provide child support.”
“Was her birth defect caused by your smoking?”
“Wow! Why would you say that? She probably inherited it from her crazy mother.”
“There you go again, disparaging family. How can everyone be crazy but you?”
“I want a drink,” Marcus deflects.
“No, you don’t. You need help to deal with whatever you’re hiding. Answer me. Do I have other siblings that you haven’t told me about?”
“This conversation is over,” Marcus says as he retreats back into the house for a shot of whiskey with a beer chaser.
Pam is the wife…
Not feeling satisfied with the results of his intervention, Aaron corners his mother, Pam, in the kitchen when she comes home. By then his father has passed out in his recliner.
“You know Dad needs help.”
“He looked fine when I came in. Does he need another drink?”
“No, he doesn’t need any more alcohol. He needs to stop drinking and see a mental therapist.”
“Where is this coming from, Aaron?”
“Can’t you see? The alcohol helps him to believe the stories he tells about our extended family. By serving him more and believing his lies, we’re just enablers.”
“I don’t appreciate the accusations. Your father is depressed because of his upbringing. We need to accept him as he is.”
“What’s the difference between that and being an enabler?”
“I don’t know what set you off. We have never lifted our hand against you, but if you continue saying hurtful things about those who love you, you may get struck tonight!”
“Why? Because I’m concerned about Dad’s health? Because I’m trying to get him some help?”
“Aaron, go to your room. I’m tired and need to cook dinner.”
Aaron leaves, turns up his music, and buries his head in his pillow. Pam serves a plate of chicken and rice with a cold beer to Marcus in his recliner. She then taps on Aaron’s door to say dinner is ready.
“I’m not hungry,” Aaron says.
“Can I come in?” his mom asks softly.
“I guess so.”
“Tell me what has you so stirred up today.”
“Mom, did you know that Dad was married before?”
“Of course I did.”
“Well, why didn’t anyone tell me I have a sister?”
“Kensi is part of your father’s past. His depression is partly because of the relationship with Kensi’s mother.”
“Is that something you know firsthand or is it something Dad told you? And if you know he suffers from depression, why don’t you take him to a therapist?”
“I trust what your father says about his family. And I have asked him to see a therapist several times. But he is a grown man who refuses.”
“Do I have any other siblings that you know about?”
“Did your father tell you about Kensi today? Is that what this is all about?”
“He confirmed what you just said. But you haven’t answered if I have other siblings.”
“Of course not, Aaron. But I can see why you might be curious, having found out about your half sister who now lives thousands of miles away. Your father and I love you very much and I’m sorry we didn’t share this chapter of his life with you. Our focus has been on your happiness.”
“That doesn’t explain this,” Aaron says while showing his family tree on the computer.
“I don’t understand what I’m looking at,” Pam reacts.
“I submitted my DNA for testing and these points are my siblings. Some have children, which makes me an uncle.”
“There must be a mistake. I have no other children.”
“Not you…. It’s Dad. Either he is a prolific sperm donor or he is a popular baby daddy. I doubt being a sperm donor would lead to depression.”
As she expands the tree, Pam is stunned to see dozens of unknown family members. “I’m sure there is an explanation. This is something your father and I will discuss,” she says while jotting down some of the names.
“There’s a plate wrapped in aluminum foil on the stove for you. If you’re not hungry, put it in the refrigerator. I’m going to bed,” the bewildered mother says as she retreats from the conversation—for now.