Sunday, April 5, 2015

How I Became a Mad Scientist - Chapter 1, Post 1

How I Became a Mad Scientist, By George Ramondi (As Told to His Probation Officer)

Chapter 1, Part 1

Chapter 1: Cousins.

My life was pretty dull until my cousin Frank moved to town.  I did all the normal stuff guys my age do. I was in Scouts, I had a dog. I road my bike and spent my allowance on ice cream and played soccer and did chores and dodged my homework and irritated my teacher when I wasn’t making her laugh.  I was just your typical, energetic, bored with school, class clown.  And I thought I had it all, because I didn’t know any better.

Then, my cousin and his folks moved two blocks away.  “You should go and visit them,” my mom said. “You always got along when you were younger. And he doesn’t have any friends yet.”  I hadn’t seen Frank since my First Communion, when he helped me dye my white suit a nice shade of neon green. They kept us apart after that little incident.  I doubted we had anything in common these days. From what I heard, he was some sort of a genius.  I was anything but.   Still, when your mom says you have to go see your cousin, you don’t argue. Arguing will get you 3 hours cleaning out the garage and a week without Internet access.  

My mom handed me a lasagna and a salad to drop off so that Aunt Mary wouldn’t have to cook dinner.  “Be good, George.  Frank’s had a rough few years. He needs a friend like you.”  I took off down the street wondering how a super-genius could need a guy like me. My last science project was an apple cut in half and smeared with peanut butter to demonstrate ‘clogged arteries.’  At least I didn’t get hungry during the science fair.

I could see the moving truck in front of Frank’s house. It looked like Uncle Arthur was arguing with the moving guys about something. As I got closer, I saw Aunt Mary standing on the big front porch, looking put-upon.  “It’s OK, Arthur,” she shouted. “I’m sure they didn’t mean to break it. We’ll file a claim.”  Uncle Arthur held one of his model ships in his arms, cradling it like a newborn baby. The mast was cracked and the figurehead swung loose. You could tell he wasn’t ready to stop yelling yet.

I handed the dinner to Aunt Mary. “Mom sent it,” I said.  “She wants you to take it easy.  Why did you guys move here, anyway? I thought you liked California.  Tell City, Indiana is going to be pretty boring after beaches and mountains.”

“Frank really needs to be somewhere with...fewer temptations,” my aunt said. “We thought moving back to Indiana might give him a shot at a normal childhood.”  Fewer temptations? Had Frank gotten into drugs or something? Sheesh. I didn’t want to hang around with someone who did that junk. I was a slacker and a clown, but I was a good kid. I didn’t hang out with druggies.

“He’s in the basement,” Aunt Mary said.  “I said he could have the room down there. He’s pretty depressed. He’ll be glad to see you.” She ushered me inside the house and opened a door.  A rickety staircase plunged into darkness.  “Frank, honey? Cousin George is coming down. Please be nice!” 

My aunt seemed awfully nervous, like she was afraid of hurting his feelings or something. Great. I was going to be alone in the basement with a depressed druggie.  I hoped he didn’t have an ax or something. I tried to think of an excuse to leave, but I knew my mom would expect a full report on George and his new room when I got home. I took a deep breath and put my foot on the first wobbly, creaky stair.

“It’s perfectly safe,” Aunt Mary said. “We have a handyman coming to look at it tomorrow, but it’s perfectly safe.” Yeah, right.  I gripped the railing tightly and headed down into oblivion.

Read the next episode.

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