I learned to read at an early age, cementing within my skull a feeling of superiority over my fellow human beings. For Christmas during my fourth year of life my mother (or Santa, the thin lie she spooned into my head that I never could swallow) gifted me with a read-a-long Disney tape set. I devoured them. Phonics had not seen a resurgence yet, Sesame Street only offended my young sensibilities with its trashy production values and pedantic overacting, while the Letter People held only a slight and bizarre allure for me, but in general, I had no outside help when it came to learning the alphabet. My mother did not read to me, that is why she bought the tapes.
Somehow, I managed to use those books to teach myself literacy. Reading felt easy and natural. One day a red stop sign looked like gibberish, the next it made sense. I finished the tapes, and went on to hard science fiction. The first two novels I ever read were Fred Saberhagen's Bezerker Wars and then Colleen McCullough's Thorn Birds. I was only five.
See, I have always had this psychotic theory that I have lived my life before, everything I have learned only a remembrance of the past, and déjà vu was but a symptom. Somehow I don't think I'm doing any better than the previous run through.
Regardless, I was a sharp youngster that would develop into a brilliant child that would blossom into a mentally retarded adult…but still, I will always cling to my superiority over all humanity. If I am full of shit, I am full of the most valuable and precious shit imaginable.
On the surface I was a good kid. I never needed a spanking, and even though my mother was a definitive authoritarian of the draconian camp—as she was quick to discipline my siblings, I was quick to conform to what she wanted, or make it appear that I did.
There was always an undercurrent of subversion boiling in my brain. It washed through my veins and manifested itself in how I treated my young playmates.
We had a black and white cat named Toby; I named him that, possibly after the fox or hound from that Disney movie about the fox and the hound, or perhaps after the protagonist from Roots. Both names would be fitting. And while I loved that cat, I couldn't help but to torture that poor thing. Not physically, mind you, but mentally. Well, sometimes physically. For example, I knew that he could swim, and I had to prove it to Jerome, the neighbor child a year younger than myself. When the poor cat begged to come inside and shook slimy green kiddy pool water all over my mother’s clean towels, I blamed Toby’s condition on Jerome. It was an easy sell.
Jerome was not a smart child, although he was probably a normal child. I could feel the banality and mediocrity that dripped off his psyche and could already envision his possible futures, which involved either manual labor or prison. He was my plaything.
I often lied to him. With my lies, I generated falsehoods within his mind with the sole intent of humilating him. It wasn't difficult, Jerome wanted to impress me so badly.
“Have you seen the new GI Joe?” I would say.
“Yes,” he would lie.
“He’s dressed like clown.”
“I know! My mom got him for me yesterday. And a Babe Ruth rookie card.”
I always wondered why he took the bait. He probably wanted me to like him, for me to accept him--to impress me. It could never be, for I was a mean child.
“I can’t, I’m grounded from it.”
That was the extent of his ability to think on his feet. He was the only child my age that lived close enough to play with, so it was either his company or soul crushing loneliness. I always felt superior to him, though, in every way.
Take for example the time when we were in the back yard playing He-Man; I was Skeletor, and he was that lame battering ram guy. I had him by the shirt, just about to banish him to the netherworld (the small space between the duplex and the garage) when two Rottweilers trotted around the corner. I suppose they were menacing enough—one of them had more mass than both of us put together, they were not friendly. When they started growling Jerome fell to pieces. It might be a lie to say that I was not scared, but I certainly held my composure. While Jerome devolved into a blubbering mess I calmly led him inside, and neither of us were torn to little bits.
My self-esteem is probably so high today because I had someone like him to compare myself to when I was so young.
Toby, the poor cat that I both adored and punished for next to no reason had been missing or several days. Jerome’s single mother, my own mother, my brother Matt and I ventured out to look for him. My job, as well as my mom’s and Jerome’s mother was to call out his name from the backyard as loud as possible. My brother had reconnaissance duty, and explored the local neighborhood. He found Toby behind the house in an empty parking lot. The poor thing looked as if it had just curled up and bled hideously to death in its sleep. My little brain, though advanced for its age couldn't handle that trauma, so I began to cry, which is of course a perfectly natural reaction to such a loss. Toby was my true best friend, while Jerome was the human meat bag that would do what I say and respond when I spoke to him. Mathew was too old and too cool to play with someone so young.
Jerome had an entirely different reaction to my loss. In a glorious show of callousness, he had the nerve to ask his mother why I was crying. At his age, which was about five, he should have been able to empathize. I boiled with hate. While I was developing out of the concrete operational stage, he would probably never work his way out of the pre-operational. I wanted to teach him a lesson. I HAD to teach him a lesson.
Now, rational thinking might lead you to think that I would talk to him and explain why I was hurting inside, and how he would feel the same pain were he in my shoes. However, if you can piece together the clues from my early childhood nature you might conclude that I would do something nasty instead. And you would be right.
I talked him into shitting his pants. When I tell people this story, I am always asked, “How can you talk someone into shitting their pants?” And the answer is simple: kids are stupid. That is the objective truth.
All I did was talk it up a bit. I told him how I did it all the time, and how great it felt. It was so warm and soft, just carrying it around like that. He always believed everything I said, for the most part, and swallowed this as well.
After a week of prompting he came to me stinking and proud, boasting that he had finally done it. I told him that I did not believe his story and went inside to watch Transformers.
He was spanked, and grounded, and forced to wear a diaper for a time, probably turning him into a future criminal or sex pervert, but I felt vindicated. He blamed me, for what little good that did him, but I had my revenge, and a growing hunger for malice and deviance. Thus an evil genius was born.