Laurie (now Laurie Coates, a pun on ‘côte but that’s another story for another time) is the narrator. Laurie is a narcissist apparently. That’s quite possibly down to parenting though. Either way, this is an early draft for Laurie, which I removed. The song lyric at the top is an atmosphere setting device I’m currently trying out.
“Oh, little bird upon the tree,
What will you sing today?
Now spring has gone and summer gone,
And the swallows flown away”
By Alfred S. Getty
October. Strange month. In between things. People say they like it though. I was conceived in October or at least that’s what the maths say or the math says. My mother and father got together one day or night or afternoon or evening and the deed was done. Nine months or so later there I was in the world. My mother died shortly after, having fallen from a building.
My father made the very sensible decision not to have to deal with a baby. He passed me over to my mother’s sister, Bernadette. I reckon he told himself that he couldn’t bear the grief of his wife’s death constantly being reflected back at him in my eyes or something like that. Aunt Bernadette simply couldn’t bear me. So, I was handed over to a new family who promised to keep her up to date with my development, and to tell me about my adoption when I was old enough to understand. The adoption happened super-quick because I was a particularly attractive. I made no fuss. I fed quickly, and I slept in a regular pattern from very early on in my development. On top of these virtues, I had no past to speak of; no baggage to bring with me, no history to contend with. I was also very, very beautiful. A beautiful bouncing blank slate. In short, I was the perfect baby ideal for adoption
My adoptive parents were very up on child rearing techniques. Early and often they explained to me that my father went to Canada a few years after I entered the world, and that my mother had died. They were very much into psychology without putting themselves to the bother of actual study and training. They used various easily to hand sources and had many conversations with likeminded people over dinners and brunches. They diagnosed me as a narcissist as a pre-teen. They sat me down and explained what Narcissism meant and that I would probably be one for the rest of my life. I wasn’t bothered, I thought it was a beautiful word to look at and say.
They taught me to read expressions and tones of voice, tears of joy or grief on cheeks, all that sort of thing. They taught me about body language and how it was universal and that was a fact that I’d become used to. I’d need to understand these things to survive and not become sociopath and then, inevitably, a psychopath. They were immensely proud.
“It’s not your fault though. We can all help. We can all understand. We can all be kind”, said my adoptive father, deploying that kindness with immense brio.
“And we will, won’t we gang!?”, yelled my mother to their other adopted kids, my siblings in name. All with their own problems. We’re not in contact with each other any more.
“Yay!”, they chorused automatically.
In their own way, my family adored me for quite some time. I think I loved them back as best I was able. We shambled along as families often do until it crumbled and fell in on itself around my sixteenth birthday. That’s when I ran away from home. They didn’t run after me.
I stood and I walked early on in my life, in fact I never crawled. I spoke early. My first word was “want”. I didn’t just have hair, I had luscious curly locks that made everybody else coo and want to touch them. It made me want to set those locks on fire. I tried it once.
I was I am beautiful. I was I am handsome. I am a fine specimen. I am tall and I am well proportioned. There is no gangle to me. No gawk. I am all grace and elegance. People feel that they can trust me. People stop and stare no matter where I am in the world. I was born skinny or slim and I have remained that way no matter how hard I tried to change. People looked at me and said, “Oh I wish I was slim like that! And you don’t have to do a thing, you can eat anything you like!” and “You’re so elegant. You’re so graceful. I’m so jealous. You’re so cool. What’s your secret, good genes I suppose”. I hated that one the most.
When I was younger I was self-conscious and I was shy (I think that stays with you). I wanted to hide all the time. I stood out from the crowd and I hated the crowd even if the crowd just wanted to adore me and heap presents at my feet. And from an early age I attracted all the worst kinds of attention. I won’t go into it, this isn’t that kind of story. As I grew I continued to attract all kinds of the worst attention.
I was never clumsy.
Everybody else I met was fingers and thumbs.
That’s a clumsy joke.
I rarely met other people who shared the same problems, we tend to keep it all to ourselves and I detest encounter groups. Instead, like spoilt rich kids who honestly don’t have to care and are getting their shit on before they take on the burdens of their god given estate, we do mad things that are sane us. We join the rich kids in loud, fast, gyrating parties on boats and roofs, in planes and castles. Spontaneous trips to islands (once to the Johnson Space Centre to try and breach a Saturn 5). All and always lots of drugs, lots of drink, lots of sex, lots of silences.
I learnt about violence in its physical, emotional and psychical forms by feel, as I went along, here and there sometimes from experts, sometimes from dilettantes. People who do violence for a living are never dilettante. They do tend to be the most sentimental people. Tears, flags, anthems. Imaginary children in imaginary danger everywhere: innocence is a moral imperative to career killers. I think they use sentiment as defence.
Horrible people. Wrong too. But not as bad as the ones who invoke violence. Employers. Overseers. The kind of human beings who hate to get their hands bloody.
I used all the unwanted attention, the touching and the staring and what I learned to think of as minor sexual assaults to grow into some kind of confidence.
I say “confidence” I mean that I stopped being concerned. I learnt to overlooked being looked at. I made a career out of it and after making substantial sums of money and networked capital, I left it behind. Once I saw a huge poster of me, well, mostly my legs dangling over Time Square and I wanted to die because I wanted more for myself. Also, being ordered about has never sat well with me whether it’s teachers, photographers or prison officers.
I don’t mean that I’ve ever shaken the anger and anxiety, those are always with you once they take root. You can’t get rid of those no matter how hard you try. It’s best just to build them in to your everyday life, to be unconcerned by their ubiquity, their inevitability. The trick is not to try hard. Don’t fight your demons because you have to remember that violence works both ways so if you’re going to invoke it, be prepared to get it back. This worked for me back then.