Back in the fifties and sixties science fiction writers had a blast turning the national fear of a nuclear holocaust into good reading. I was reading Alfred Bester's famous contribution to the mania, a short story, "The Flowered Thundermug" after finding it on Google. Bester usually wrote hardcore science fiction but in this story he blended nuclear horror with hilarity. In his tale of the aftermath only Hollywood survives intact and so becomes the model for the new world order. The hero is a twentieth century man blown five hundred years into the future by the bomb so the reader could have something relative to contrast with the new world a la Hollywood. Yearning for the past our hero steals priceless antique objects like sisal welcome mats and plastic tableware. While burgling the Flowered Thundermug, a cheap china flower vase, he bumps into a woman from the past. Like him she was also blown into the future. She also yearns for the past and was attempting to steal the priceless antique.
"What'cha reading, honeybunch?" Diana asked over my shoulder.
Nancy simply hiked a slim leg over my thigh and squirmed her body between me and my computer screen to squint at the story I was reading.
"It looks like science fiction again." Nancy sighed.
My sisters. Diana is fifteen and Nancy is eleven. I'm stuck between them at thirteen. Not that I mind that much, I love my sisters. Both are bright, lively and a lot of fun to live with even if they think I'm retarded.
They acquired the notion when I started kindergarten. I wouldn't talk. Actually I do talk occasionally. I'll answer most direct questions if you stand in my face and I think they deserve an answer. Anyway, kindergarten teachers were upset and recommended counseling. Our parents got upset and eight-year-old Diana and four-year-old Nancy picked up on the "Oh Poor Billy" mania that swept family and friends. I put all the counselors' pegs in the right holes, passed her development tests and answered her reasonable questions. She pronounced me normal and correctly diagnosed that the reason I didn't talk was because I didn't have anything to say.
My parents reluctantly accepted the simple diagnosis expecting little more for their money but my sisters had real reservations. It plainly wasn't normal not to jabber incessantly. Their reservations were re-enforced when I learned to read. I loved books. My nose constantly in a book during the television age was further evidence my picnic basket wasn't full. It didn't matter that I made good grades in school, they made good grades too. My good grades were only evidence that schools accommodated the mentally challenged. Proof positive was that I never answered questions yes or no. I either nodded or shook my head.
Consequently my relationship with my sisters was colored by their notion. They make little excuses for my general silence and rush to talk for me in social situations. They look me in the eye and talk clearly and plainly as if I were deaf as well as dumb. I don't think I ever made a conscious decision to go along them. They're feminine nurturing instinct was pretty powerful and convincing them I was normal was probably not worth the effort. They're loving condescension was tolerable and they seemed to enjoy having a retarded brother to usher through life. It gave them something to jabber about with their friends. The perils and pleasures of living with a retarded family member was also good essay material for their health and social science classes, getting "A's" every time. So, I sat quietly while Nancy thoughtfully bookmarked the web page I was reading, closed down my computer, and twisted her body around between my legs to smile at me.
"You've been reading too long." She prescribed cheerily, "It's time to play with us for a while."
Invading my space was normal behavior. Our parents were out for the evening to a political function somewhere. Playing with them for a while was usually enjoyable. I'm probably as fascinated by my sisters as they are with me. I marvel constantly that they can talk faster than they can think.
"Come on down to our bedroom," Diana chirped, "It's more comfortable there"
This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Mr Double's Palisade
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Changes last made on: Thursday, January 10, 2019