Epiphanies are the source of all innovation. That afternoon my son struck upon life-correcting profundity: the common rabble was worth little. They were fodder for the mill, cogs and gears for the machine. They lacked personal value unless they demonstrated intrinsic critical thinking skills. Children often do not exhibit such signs. Neighbors would visit for “play dates” from time to time. My wife attempted to mingle with the community of the backwater around us. The accompanying little monsters would carelessly smash their toys together, stumble about with less coordination than a blue-collar worker after a night of cocaine and binge drinking, utterly ruining the precision of Darren’s constructs. Given his disposition and age, I’d fully anticipated that he would stand passively by the first time he was bullied. Lesser children were gutless and witless, their glassy eyes and button noses leaking fluids while they wailed in protest like babes.
I will therefore never forget the pivotal moment when he first expressed his true distaste for the unrefined animals whose company he was forced to keep. I was in my office pouring over the newest calculations for the Company’s project. Something possessed me to tear my gaze away and walk to the window. This was uncharacteristic at best and otherwise wholly inexplicable. Perhaps some strand of common DNA triggered a response in the animal portion of my brain. I certainly rarely suffered such bouts despite engaging in the act of procreation.
I shaded my eyes to the blinding white heat of the overbearing sky, thrusting my glasses up the bridge of my well-lubricated nose. My sebaceous glands always worked overtime during the hottest months, and so the pair of heavy, thick lenses began sliding down almost immediately. I leaned against the window frame with the middle of my forearm, casting it above my head and crossing my legs as my weight shifted. This also had the added benefit of allowing my body to air out from my prolonged sedentary positioning in my rigid, worn wooden chair. My joints popped in protest to the extraneous motion. Gazing down with the odd mix of separation and curiosity manifested by voyeuristic shut-ins such as myself, I saw my son rear back his arm, face twisted with an ugly and utterly hateful expression as he punched a larger boy square in the jaw. There was a sound CRACK! upon impact almost as though I were reading one of his comic books. He possessed frightening accuracy and placed his weight behind his tightly-clenched fist as if he’d practiced the move before.
Where had he learned to do that? Perhaps he’d taken to watching boxing matches. Children learned by example after all. He was a sponge. A dangerous little sponge in the guise of innocence. I’d heretofore ignored his existence much as I neglected all aspects of the mundane portion of my reclusive vivacity, yet the scene playing out below stirred some latent desire in my brain stem to interact with the small creature.
The slack-jawed, dumbfounded neighbor was sent careening into the ground, momentarily stunned as the red welt instantaneously grew, swelling with blood. His pupils dilated and glazed over. He looked off at nothing as if he’d been stricken blind. His vision had likely clouded after such a blow, so perhaps there was some credibility to the notion. He wouldn’t attempt to touch Darren’s things again. The lesson ran deep and had been intimately learned. Salty tears beaded hotly at the corners of his eyes and his lips dribbled saliva commingled with pinkish blood.
My now saucer-eyed wife stood instantaneously, hands covering her mouth in horror. Her perfect son had just exhibited his first act of true aggression. Lacking sufficient testosterone, she couldn’t empathize. She was aghast and white. The bleeding child began bleating petulantly and ran towards his mother for protection. Darren meanwhile stood stolidly panting, overwhelmed with exhilaration and adrenaline. Cheryl checked on the visitors first, but the mother pulled her son away from my wife’s ginger touch. Now livid, she marched threateningly up to the sandbox with squared shoulders and clenched fists. I couldn’t hear her admonishments, but I felt my facial muscles pull inextricably upwards in a mirror of my son’s pleased smile as she yelled indistinctly. He didn’t seem to hear her, satisfied as he was after staving off the offensive beast invading his microcosm. He turned his back in the middle of her lecture and picked up his toys, resuming his play alone as if his primary caretaker weren’t attempting to browbeat him into penitence.
Not knowing quite what to do with herself, Cheryl fell silent and stared down at the cool blue shadow she cast across Darren’s diminutive back for several moments, quivering. I could tell that she was breathing heavily and attempting to calm herself. She turned and rejoined the neighboring mother in order to offer the wounded boy first aid. I didn’t have to watch in order to know that the woman would decline and return home. Cheryl and Darren would soon be shamed by the community at large once the gossip started, as anything violent always spread like wildfire. This was perfectly fine by my son, who like his father was quite comfortable in his own company. Cheryl, however, would be at a loss. “Boys will be boys” didn’t apply when I was known to them as a mad scientist in their whispers and the tales the children told each other. The neighbors had already worked up a fair amount of prejudice given my occupation and peculiarities, and this naturally extended to my family. I was fairly certain that Cheryl had to gradually charm and coax the ladies at the local church in order to lure any mother/child pairing over to play with my son. Now it would be nearly impossible.
I’d have to remember to pull Darren aside to congratulate him.