by Trent Zelazny
Happy birthday, Dad.
“From far, from eve and morning
and twelve-winded sky,
the stuff of life to knit me blew hither:
here am I.”
I never thought I would ever be sitting here at my computer writing something like this. The story I would like to tell is far too complicated. So I shall tell another story, and shall attempt to be brief.
Most children, at an early age, look up to their mother or father, see them as heroes, as mythical demigods, invincible beings, what have you. They are our providers; they take care of us. In a sense, they are gods. I was not an especially weird child for seeing my father in this light. When I was a little boy, Dad was the greatest man in the world. He was my hero. I wanted to be just like him when I grew up (more on that in a minute). Unfortunately, when young innocent children reach those dreadful teenage years, for whatever nebulous reason, these same all-powerful adult figures are suddenly, in the eyes of adolescence, regarded as uncool. They become the last people in the world some teenager wants to be seen with. I don’t know why this is, but most of us know that it is.
I would be lying if I said I was not guilty of this same outlook. I was nothing special, just another naïve kid who foolishly thought I could rule the world (with what, I don’t know). Sometimes, though, I’ve wondered if there was more to it than that.
My older brother Devin and I were both very much into horror films and comic books when we were kids. I still love horror now. My father noticed this interest we had and encouraged it in both of us. He rented us scary movies any sane parent wouldn’t let their kids watch even after they had kids of their own. He bought us comics, told us spooky stories. I can remember being so young that I was barely able to write and I wanted to write stories like Dad. But I wanted to write scary stories. I wanted to remake Friday the 13th Part 3 or something, only in words. Hell of a goal, huh? But hey, that’s how these things develop, right?
My father gave me this old clunker of a word processor typewriter, the kind with the little LED display about the length of a stingy stick of Juicy Fruit and the body shaped like a reject from George Lucas’ model spaceship department. Where he got this machine, I do not know. I do know that I typed on it a lot, never much of anything special (I was just learning to write, let alone type) until the day at my grandmother’s house when I completed my very first short story. It was called, I believe, “Ax Killer,” and it was a six-year-old’s conglomeration of bits from different horror films, sewn painfully together with no plot, no characterization, nor anything else of literary value. Basically lots of “AAAHHHH!” with misspellings and little to no grammatical usage. Still, I was proud of all two and half double-spaced pages I had cranked out.
After discouragement from my grandmother, I didn’t write again until I was almost in high school, close to the end of my eighth grade year. It was quite a while yet before it would have any true significance. My English teacher, Lynn Woodard, decided to take a break from the usual this and that, and told everybody to take out their notebooks. For the first half of class we were to write a short story about anything we wanted. For the second half we were going to read them.
I don’t know why it was that, for one of the only times in the past ten years, I decided to put pen to paper that day. Maybe I was just inspired. Whatever it was, I wrote a story, connecting a random string of events with random nonsensical dialogue. I understood stories. I didn’t understand writing them. I’d given up on that when I was six. Continue reading