I love the pictures, send more. You and Steve look stupidly happy. Nice hair. Is he trying to grow a beard? Finally graduated from eleventh grade. I thought Mrs. Corno was going to fail me. Whew! Just made it!
Jeff and Sue are thinking about moving down to Austin together and finishing school there. Their folks wonít hear of it--canít blame them. Iím looking forward to visiting you in December. Is there anything youíd like me to bring? Food? Clean clothes? Ha ha ha.
Will is trying to start a band. You remember Will? My freaky twin brother? Heís got this new fifties haircut and wants to call the band "The Artful Codgers"--like that kid in Oliver Twist. The "Codger" part is from Codge... that guy Mom doesnít want us to grow up to be like. I told you about that. I was fixing my hair and Mom came by and said, "You just canít leave it alone.... youíre just like Codge." If I didnít clean my room, "Just like Codge." Or if I failed a class, "I donít want you to wind up like Codge." Who is this Codge guy? She never says anything more than, "Some guy I knew." Ugh! You must have known him pretty well, MOM! Jeeze! Sheís a total space case.
Anyway, let me know how you are. God! December is so far away. Howís Pest? Send me pictures, I want to know if heís turned red yet.
Well, things havenít changed much here. I have a job now. *BEAM* I thought youíd be proud. I really like it, too.... so, I guess it doesnít count like a real job. Itís a used bookstore. Sometimes itís really cool... other times.... Itís really sad when you see people come in who are selling their books in order to buy food. I donít think Iíve ever sold one of my books. I hope I never have to.
Glad to hear about Steveís new job. Maybe you guys can make the special trip out here and we can have a ĎNew Jobí party. Yeah right. From what I understand, things are pretty tight everywhere.
Jeff and Sue ran off to Michigan and eloped. Michigan--go fig. I always thought they were going to go down to Austin and do the slacker thing. Thatís what Will wants to do. His band is doing okay. Theyíll wake me up every so often banging it out in the garage. Iím just getting sick of listening to it all the time. Itíd be nice if they actually make it and wind up on the radio. I could turn them off. Maybe then the drum player and his stinky girlfriend would stop drinking all my sodas from the fridge.
Okay. Thatís about it. GET YOUR PHONE TURNED ON. I want to run up a huge phone bill now that I have a job. It will make me feel grown-up.
PS. The film festival was fantastic. You owe me pictures. I want to see how Pest is doing.
Awwwww......Pest is so cute now. Heís going to look great when he finishes growing up. Was he hard to house train? I have to know. What did the leasing company say when you told them you had a fox cub, or is that an Ďundeclared petí? Isnít that illegal out there?
Steveís beard looks great.... now that itís grown out. You need to get your phone connected so I can call you. This writing shit can only go so far.
Oh yeah, Willís band broke up. He got in a fight with his bass player about God and the drum player got married. Ha ha. Now I donít have to listen to "The Artful Codgers" cranking it out anymore. Thank God.
Sorry itís taken so long for me to write. A lot of heavy shit just hit home and everythingís been pretty cooky.
I think Iíve told you about Codge, right? You remember when Will was caught skipping school? And Mom laid into him about how she didnít want him to turn out like Codge... Of course you remember. Will and I were always being threatened with "turning out like Codge".
Well, anyway.... about, uh, two weeks ago Mom got a postcard and fell to her knees right in the middle of the kitchen floor and burst into tears. I thought someone had died or something. That night she and Dad get into this huge fight--and they NEVER fight. She was begging and everything and saying stuff like, "Just one dinner" and "They have the right to know". Dadís just shouting and yelling, "I donít want him in my house," and "I donít want my children laying eyes on that brat." Will and I couldnít get any sleep at all that night because weíre thinking about what we have "a right to know".
Yeah, so.... It turns out that Codge is going to have dinner with the family. Write back, huh?
PS: I almost forgot. Mom pulled a box out of the attic. All wrapped up with duct tape and it looked kinda like a little coffin. There was some stuff she pulled out but I managed to get a hold of the rest. Love letters. I can see why Mom didnít want us to turn out like Codge; the guyís practically illiterate.
My life is so extraordinarily FUCKED right now itís not even funny. I think Iím still in shock. Okay, the big day--dinner with Codge. Shit....
First of all, Will said he wasnít even going to stick around. He and Dad got in a shouting match and when Will drove off with his buddies, Dad was yelling, "Just as well! Why have two brats at a table not big enough for one?!" But Dad and Will never got along. Itís not like a generation gap thing or anything. Maybe... hell... Dad knew all along. I bet that every time he looked at Will it hurt like hell. I can forgive him. At least I look like Momís old pictures.
So anyway, the night of the BIG DINNER arrives and Will takes off. Codge shows up around seven or so and Mom has to pay for the taxi. She sent me out with the money and this guyís like, "Cynthia, you havenít changed a bit." I had to explain that Cynthia was my mom. "Oh, uh," and heís stammering and smoking the whole time, "Uh, well.... you look a lot like your mother when I knew her. Younger, of course. You weigh more than she did at the time...." So Iím pissed at him right away because he said something about my weight.
Mom had already made the table for five and Dad was sitting when Codge gets into the house. He asked Dad, "So, August, how are you?" And Dad cut right in with, "Iíve got a house, a car, a business, and a wife and kids." Codge was playing architect with his ash by then and looking vainly for an ashtray. Mom brought him a soda can and Dad started laughing. It was really creepy and I donít know what the joke was about the can. Mom and Dad thought it was funny but Codge looked really pissed off about it...like it was something he didnít want to remember.
So, uh.... Dinner. Ugh. Dinner was a "somber affair". Mom was talking just to fill the space while Dad shot her glances across the table. She put food on Codgeís plate. Dad moved things away from himÖ.. My father must have pitied Codge more than hated him.
But anyway, Momís serving dinner and stuff when Will decides he wants to come home and meet this Codge guy. It wasnít until I saw them standing next to each other... shit. How do I say this? Will sits down and... Mom goes into the other room and gets these papers and puts them in front of me and Will. Oneís a birth certificate and the otherís stuff like adoption forms where Dad? adopted us. Birth certificate says "father unknown". I mean....heís not my dad. Mom was a single mother and married Dad and he adopted us. I mean, heís our dad legally and all that, but not biologically. He raised us and everything, but.... The whole thingís so screwed up. I look like Mom, sure, but poor Will. He looks like his fucking dad and Dadís.....hell.
So, this Codge guy says, "Whatís this? What is this shit?" and Momís starting to cry but trying to hide it. Sorry. I canít keep my tenses right. I know that bugs you. It all happened two days ago but when Iím writing I can see it all happening all over again.
Codge asked, "Cynthia, what is this?" and Mom said somewhat stiffly, "I did it to protect you and them." By Ďthemí she meant Will and me.
Will started shouting, "To protect us? What the hell is that supposed to mean?"Mom was crying then, but trying to keep a good tone of voice. "Well, if something happened to me," she said. "I knew you wouldnít wind up in his hands. At least my parents would be able to take care of you without any legal interference."
Codge was really angry and was gripping the end of the table. He was staring at us and asked, "How was this supposed to protect anybody?"
Mom said something like, "So no-one could chase you down."
By now Will and Codge were standing and shouting. Codge asked Mom why she never told him. She said it was so she wouldnít ask him for help. After all, she had decided to go through with the pregnancy. She never asked him and couldnít get a hold of him anyway.
Will was practically screaming. "Why didnít you tell me? What kind of a family is this supposed to be?" Mom was really cool about it. "I didnít tell you because I didnít want you to turn him into some sort of hero. He wasnít going to be your Ďreal daddyí who would whisk you away from your life. I wanted to have him here so you could see for yourselves what he was."
I think I was in shock the whole time. I just sat there, taking it all in.
Finally, Codge says, "I donít have to sit here and be a scapegoat for your fucking kids." And thatís when Will decks the guy. Dadís up in a flash to hold Will back and Momís moving in to make sure Codge doesnít do anything. Only, he didnít do anything. He just stared at us and rubbed his jaw. His eyes were tearing up but he was laughing to. I guess that was good. He got up and walked out to the patio.
The family just sat there. Mom picked up the stuff that had been knocked to the floor when Will jumped the table. Later Mom went out to talk to Codge while Dad talked to us. None of it sank in. Most of my life has been a lie. He had raised us, he had been our father, but he wasnít our dad at all.
Mom came back in and asked us if we wanted to talk to Codge. Will got up and walked right out the front door. We havenít seen him since and Iím worried as shit. Heís probably crashed out at a friendís house, but none of his stuff is gone, so I guess he still lives here. Hell, heís my twin. Heís fine. Iíd know, right?
Anyway, ugh..... my handís cramping up. I talked to Codge. Heís my father, right? I talked to the guy. He was just sitting on the porch, smoking away. He looked so crushed. It must be tough to find out youíve had a couple of kids stashed away somewhere. And then to find out you werenít told Ďto protect the childrení. He didnít say much. I tried asking him questions about him and Mom, but he stayed pretty quiet. He just kept staring at me. It was so creepy. This was two days ago and I donít think itís really hit home yet. The whole thing gives me the heebie-jeebies.
I donít want to write anymore. I want to know what you think. Please write...
PS: Jeff and Sue send their love. Everyone misses you. Me most.
You are so right. But you also have to think about the situation at the time. After having met the guy, I canít blame her.
Will came back (finally) and had a huge talk with Mom. Heís getting on a bus this weekend to go visit Codge. I guess heís got more to figure out than I do. Iíve talked to the man enough to know heís a complete idiot. Iím actually glad Mom did what she did. Dad, well, my LEGAL dad, is seven times cooler than this Codge freak.
Iím not in shock as much now--things have settled down. Will being gone had me pretty spooked. I worry maybe heís trying to find some sort of role model in this guy. But when I talked to him.....
Codge is a looser in the purest sense of the word. Heís been in jail, has bad credit, bad rent history, canít keep a job, looks like hell, spends all of his time crashed out on couches and stoned. I canít believe Momís going to let Will spend any time with him.
When I think about it.... I hate him. I mean, he got Mom pregnant and then ran out on her. I donít know why she bothered tracking him down--his name wasnít on the birth certificates. Why would she want to protect him? Heís just one of those people who goes from personal crisis to personal crisis and itís always his own fault. Reading the old love letters he and Mom wrote to each other.... jeeze. I swear Iíll never be that screwed up when I start dating. You and Steve arenít like that, are you?
I want to visit you. I want to get out of this house. Maybe you can come up here.
I miss you.
I never thought Iíd have to write these things down. I never thought anything like this could ever happen. The whole this is so unreal I donít know where to start.
I donít know if youíve been watching the news or anything. I donít even know if you have a TV. Iím sure the story hit the papers....maybe the radio. I donít know.
Mom never should have let Will visit Codge. I donít know what she was thinking. Now.... everything is so incredibly fucked. This is my senior year! Isnít that enough stress? Did I have to go through this too? What gods did I piss off? Why is this happening? I mean, this is just.....
What was itÖ two months ago when we got the post-card? That wasnít that long ago. I guess it doesnít take much time for things to go to shit. Thatís whatís happened. Everything got turned upside down and my dad isnít my dad because my real dad is the boogey-man and my stupid twin went and....
Okay, Iím back. Sorry. This is the third time Iíve tried to write this letter. I keep wadding the paper up and smearing the ink. Not this time. I have to do it right at least once. I want you to get a gad-damned phone! How hard can that be? You guys are eating, right? A PHONE! So I can call you instead of going through this writing shit! Iím sick of this! At least you write back but GET A GOD-DAMNED PHONE!
Okay, Iím a little crazy right now. All of a sudden I lost my dad, gained a dad, lost my real dad and lost my brother.... my STUPID FUCKING TWIN BROTHER! WHY? I donít understand why he did it.! What was he thinking? Oh, of course, he wasnít. Heís just like his fucking dad. Unable to think past three minutes from now. It makes me sick! What was he trying to prove? I mean, what good would it do? Why not just forget about Codge and let it be at that? Now heís going to have that stuck on him for the rest of his life! We didnít even have the guyís name on our birth certificates. I shouldnít have mattered. It wasnít like the bastard wanted to visit us. He wouldnít say a god-damned thing to me. Was he trying to prove something to Mom? Was killing Codge going to change the past somehow? Will just couldnít let it rest, could he? I understand he looked like Codge, well tough! Itís no big deal! Just get over it and get on with your life and try to forget about the fucker who walked out on Mom when she was pregnant with us! We have a dad! We have someone who really does love us and really loves Mom and wanted us to have happy normal lives and loved us enough to adopt us! He was there! He was our dad! Not some crashed out freak who canít get his shit together! Who taught us how to ride our bikes? Who helped us build our secret club tree house? Who dug the grave when Grinnie died and even shed a tear for the stupid mutt? Who raised us and cared for us and explained things to you about girls and stuff and skipped stones with us and everything? Jesus Christ! He was our father in every sense! He was there for us and Mom while Codge spent his time hopping from scam to scam and bed to bed. Is that what Will wanted to turn out like? Everything that bastard Codge touched turned to shit! Even the god-damned band! Just bearing his name screwed up the stupid band! I miss the band. I miss listening to the awful music played at obscene hours. I miss all the crap we used to do. I miss my old room that I shared with my freaky twin brother. I miss hiding in the tree house while the neighborhood kids hunted us. I miss dropping things on the neighborhood kids from the tree house. Things were so much simpler.
Iím sorry, Jodi. I didnít mean to go off like that. I have a lot of things Iím trying to figure out now. Schoolís starting up soon. I donít know how Iím going to deal with it. I donít want to answer any more questions. Iím tired of it.
Send more pictures of Pest. I told a friend here that I knew someone with a pet fox and I lost the old pictures during the hoop-la. Send my love to Steve and the others. Jeff and Sue are back. The babyís due sometime in October. Write. Please, god...write.
I miss you horribly.