31


Heredity is the issue. Of concern is schizophrenia. Though rarely symptomatic, Remington (formerly Stuyvesant) has Rockefeller on edge, afraid his "old man’s eccentricity" is in fact a disease, a mental disorder, its predisposition passed between father and father-to-be.

Eschewing tact, a pretension of neither, the combatants square off:


ROCKEFELLER

When mom gave birth to me were there any...?

REMINGTON

Complications? You know very well that she...

ROCKEFELLER

No; I mean with me?

REMINGTON

Such as?

ROCKEFELLER

Emotional problems.

REMINGTON

That could make you feel at fault? You weren’t aware she died. 

ROCKEFELLER

Maybe not at the time. But how about...?

REMINGTON

Later? Like how much later? What do you remember?

ROCKEFELLER

Not much, really. Only what you’ve told me. ‘Your mother died during child birth.’ You’ve never elaborated.

REMINGTON

Well, that’s probably true. When a man’s wife dies it’s...

ROCKEFELLER

Difficult? You must have resented me.

REMINGTON

No, never. You were always a gift from your mother I didn’t deserve.

ROCKEFELLER

And yet you hardly ever speak of her. Not at all. What was she like?

REMINGTON

If you’re worried about your pedigree, don’t look to her; the buck stops here.

ROCKEFELLER

I’m more my father’s son than my mother’s?

REMINGTON

Mine are the suspect genes. Get to the point. Have you had the fetus screened?

ROCKEFELLER

No. Not yet. We were hoping...

REMINGTON

Oh, I get it; demonstrate Daddy's defective and mother-to-be aborts?

ROCKEFELLER

Something like that.

REMINGTON

Well, sure; I can help you out. Tell your fiancée I’m crazy as a loon. Bring her here to Wellington; I’ll prove it. I'll even perform her D&C myself.

The look on Rockefeller’s face tells Remington what he needs to know; his son and would-be daughter-in-law want to keep their little bastard.

Remington’s face, for Rockefeller, is harder to decipher; devious, is his elder—shields thoughts, obfuscates feelings, and plots every move with the cunning of a grandmaster chess player.

ROCKEFELLER

Crude, Grandpa.

REMINGTON

Touché.

Rockefeller wants to run, as he ran as a boy, his stocking feet slip-sliding, making cartoon turns and spinning his steps like wheels, regaining traction, racing from the bogeyman (personified by Remington), frantic to escape yet seldom pulling it off, his hiding places exposed by him whom he  resembles so closely he might have had more luck eluding his own reflection.

ROCKEFELLER

Was I born alone, or did I initially have company?

REMINGTON

"Company"?

Remington counters cautiously, wary of the innuendo, mindful of his personal fascination with the concept of twins, his personal conviction, rather, that his once-attached brother did, does, and always will exist.

ROCKEFELLER

I mean doctors, nurses, a midwife; you know; others?

REMINGTON

Oh, I see. No, all alone. Other than the principals, of course. You were born in my laboratory. It was I who botched the job. By the time we reached the hospital, Juliana had bled to death... Yes, the blame is mine. Which is why I’ve never told you, presuming you, like I, would consider such a fuck up unforgivable.

ROCKEFELLER

You... Weren’t there repercussions? I mean, legally?

REMINGTON

Was I arrested, you mean? No. At the time, I was Board Certified. Your mother’s labor came on rather abruptly; we were at home; the lab was next door. She walked in hale and hearty; I had to carry her out half-dead. I’m sorry, and have been sorry, for going on twenty-three years.

Why, after all this time, make such a candid confession? Rockefeller, dubious, tries to second guess the plot; truth, and his father’s versions, are often distant cousins. Cognizant of his own ends, he redirects the dialogue.

ROCKEFELLER

So, you and I are unique; no siblings; each of us, since birth, our parents’ only child?

Startled at being asked point blank to expose his so-called ailment, his psychosis doctors labeled it when he had no self-defense, when he was scarcely ten years old hence ill-equipped to state his case convincingly, his parents and a team of shrinks in league to lock him up, to inundate his system with a drug that nearly killed him, left him twitching like some spastic, left him babbling like some dolt, weeks, months, YEARS; it took forever to regain a sense of self esteem, mauled as Stuyvesant had been by ridicule, by condescending adults and their mocking little brats, his peers, whose taunts and pranks and meanness had been an ever-present scourge—an everlasting lesson. Those unlike everybody else were better served by keeping their oddness under wraps. Stuyvesant had; Remington did. While Rockefeller-twin, whose presence was an absence (like a shadow-obscured moon still in orbit, if invisibly, still in contact, if covert) had been replaced, in some respects, by Rockefeller-spawn. The former had, nonetheless, remained an elemental influence, an Other joined metaphorically, metaphysically, who lent his alter-ego uncanny objectivity.

REMINGTON

You are an only child, whereas I am a Siamese twin, the better half of whom expired during our separation.

Astounded by (and skeptical of) this stunning revelation, Rockefeller waits for his father to elaborate.

REMINGTON (continued)

How I know that I was once a we may sound implausible. X-rays refute my claim. I bear no outward scars. Your grandparents staunchly denied it. Counselors and physicians described me as delusional. I was even thought insane and fed a pharmaceutical cure that might actually have worked; it taught me to be disciplined. Once freed from pharmacology, self-control eventually held sway and I was able to avoid any further drugstore remedies. Nonetheless, my sibling stayed a close, if soto-voce confidante. We’ve communed, at least in spirit, since our bodies parted ways—his dead and buried; who knows where (?); mine hale and hearty; save for pangs that persist as reminders of our once-cohesive selves... inclined to trespass on one another’s thoughts, finish each other's sentences, share intimate conversations like virtual duets, me singing treble, him singing base, or vice versa, our harmonies intoning certain truths...

(Bullshit.)

...that I find positively crucial in an Age of Reason rent with irrationality.

(Meaning any and all
perspectives at odds
with your point of view?)

The very notion that we 21st century humans are inviolable...

(Here we go again;
you’re ranting.)

...somehow sacrosanct due to fantasies bred of holy hocus-pocus, is like a clan of cavemen, scared of the dark, cleaving to identity, afraid lest evolution proceed to strike a match. Neanderthals were stupid, which is no doubt why they perished. Homo sapiens, somewhat smarter, are admittedly improved, but a far cry from perfected. Our kind, when compared to future human beings, will appear to be dumb, dumber, and dumbest.

(Exonerating those who
made so bold as to tamper
with their blueprint?)

Absolutely; in God’s absence...

(You mean “non-existence.")

...who else trust? The Ways of Nature surely guarantee survival of the fittest, which, to date, has meant survival of the cruelest, meanest thugs imaginable. If we’re to wrest ourselves from ourselves and the violence that sustains us, genes and proteins must be quintessentially modified...

(Seig Heil!)

...as in fundamentally rearranged. And please; whenever talk turns to eugenics, critics always mention Mein Kamph Adolph as if choosing beneficial traits necessarily sentences those who lack them to wholesale slaughter. We breed cows to give more milk, ears of corn to produce larger kernels, horses to win the Triple Crown; we’ve been engineering pets for years; but when it comes to changing human traits the objections raised grow shrill.

(Wouldn’t humans be less
human if you robbed
them of free will?)

Indeed they would be. We define our selves ourselves. Those selves are violent. We consider this a virtue when directed toward our enemies. For every vice there seems to exist an extenuating virtue, just as every extenuating virtue can be compromised by a vice. Normally, we strike a balance, but the status quo remains; the very stuff of humanity—that is to say our genome—passes on our flaws.

(Something like the way
each child is a clean-slate
having to learn everything
from...?)

Scratch? Precisely! Imagine who we’d be if infants started life where moms and dads left off, already advanced to their parents' degree so that knowledge was inherited instead of step-by-step acquired. A child would just progress, advancing Mankind in the process, cradle to grave to cradle to grave, the race advancing the Race ad infinitum.

(Unto perfection?)

Rockefeller, staggered by this schizophrenic outburst wherein monologue-aping-dialogue overshadows common sense (inured to outside censure or inside moderation), blushes on behalf of his unselfconscious parent—who grimaces, blinks spasmodically, shrugs with a jerk, his blank expression off kilter, his split wits cocked askance.

 

BACK

NEXT

table of contents currydoglit