Fri, 14 Jan 2000
D Benway

This story sort of contains a few characters and places belonging to Marvel comics, but is otherwise my own. It cannot be used to induce vomiting, but is somewhat sad.




It's 7 o'clock. I always wake up at 7. I set the alarm to wake me up. It's my birthday today. I wish Mummy and Daddy were here. I wish I wasn't.

I've been in Miami for three days now. It's flat and ugly and hot and I want to go back home. If I can't go home, I want to go back to Rimini with Uncle Gerald.

Uncle Gerald is still asleep in the lounge. I looked. He's sleeping on the couch, and I have my own bed. Uncle Robert and Aunt Billie gave me this room to sleep in. I don't like it. It's painted green. There's a computer here, but it's a crummy 486. I have a G3 at home. There are no books in here. They have almost no books except that stupid Bible with all the wrong words and the name of Jesus written in red. We have the eleventh largest private library in Genosha at home. They watch a lot of television. We don't have television at home. Last night we watched wrestling. It was stupid.

They're all up now, and Aunt Billie is making breakfast. She's not family. She's stupid and fat and shiny and American and she looks like a pig. It's fun to pretend that she's a mutate. She waits until we're out of sight, then turns into a pig and eats garbage and goes to the bathroom everywhere like the pigs on the school farm. She does most of the talking, and Uncle Robert hardly ever says anything. He's an assistant manager at a Taco Bell, and she is a nursing assistant at a home for old people. We went to the Taco Bell yesterday. Uncle Bob took me into the kitchen and there was spilled food all over the floor. They gave me taco. I couldn't eat it properly with a knife and fork. Aunt Billie laughed at me. It tasted horrible and made me throw up.

We're having eggs and bacon for breakfast. The bacon isn't real bacon. It's called a skillet strip, according to Aunt Billie. Billie isn't a proper name, and neither is Bob, which is what she calls Uncle Robert. She keeps calling me Kenny. She's stupid and she doesn't understand that my name is Kenneth. Mummy and Daddy would never let any of the servants call me Kenny. I want to go home.

They have a television in every room. There's one in the kitchen, one in the lounge, and one in Uncle Robert's bedroom. The one on in the kitchen is on now. There's a picture of Hammer Bay on it. I can't see the hill where our house is, because there's lots of smoke and a fire. Our house has 20 rooms. We have twenty servants and three domestic mutates. We had a pool that we didn't have to share with other people. Aunt Billie won't let me swim in the pool here because she says the kids in this building go to the bathroom in it. Maybe she does, when she turns into a pig.

Uncle Gerald is up, and he's looking all sad again. I ask him when we're going back, and he says soon. I want to go back to Rimini, even for a week before school starts. I like it there. I played with the local boys, and we went on all sorts of adventures. We went to castles and old Roman forts and I did all sorts of naughty things. I learned some of their lingo. It's sort of like the Latin I learned in school. Uncle Gerald took me out on a boat and we went fishing. I caught a fish but we couldn't eat it because of the pollution.

Aunt Billie and Uncle Robert sing Happy Birthday. I'm nine, now. They can't sing. I can. I have perfect pitch. They give me presents. One is a Bible with all the wrong words in it, like theirs. I asked for books, but not ones like this. I ask them if I can get a proper Bible, but Aunt Billie says it's good enough for them. I think that means no. They bought me a jersey that's too big for me. Uncle Gerald gives me a book with old paintings in it. Aunt Billie looks horrified when I show her a picture of Hercules with no clothes on. I knew she would be. They give me a big chocolate bar called a Hershey Bar. I try some and I almost throw up. It doesn't taste like proper chocolate, it tastes like chemicals.

We're out looking at houses again. Aunt Billie says they need a bigger house now in a better neighborhood. The house we just looked at is smaller and dirtier than their apartment, and all the people around are Euros. There's a more normal assortment where they live, but Aunt Billie says the schools are no good there. I go to a very good school. St Anselm's is the best in all Genosha. We have to wear a blazer every day, and short pants until we reach 6th Form. Aunt Billie wanted me to wear the jersey she bought for me, but I'm wearing the blazer and my tie. No one else here is properly dressed. It's very hot.

They asked me if I wanted to go to Walt Disney World. I didn't because there might be scary rides. I wanted to see the Everglades and Florida panthers. Instead, we're at some place called the Parrot Jungle. It's like those jungle parks for the common folk in Jo'Burg. When Mummy and Daddy took me to South Africa, we went on a proper safari and we saw lions and wildebeests and a Zulu dance. Aunt Billie makes me stand with my arms out and some parrots stand on me. Uncle Robert takes a picture. One of the parrots goes to the bathroom on me and I throw up. I have to take off my blazer and I can't help myself and I start crying. Mummy would never let her do this to me.

We're driving somewhere and looking at more houses. The last one had a wonderful mud wallow in the back that was perfect for Aunt Billie. I stay in the car, while they go inside. It's boring. I have nothing to play with. At home, I have my Matchbox cars and my Meccano and my books. I was reading about King Arthur when they took us from the school and put us on the plane for Jo'Burg. They said the American mutates had invaded and overthrown the government, and we had to leave school at once. They sent me to Uncle Gerald's in Rimini. It took 12 hours on the plane to get there. There was a woman at Uncle Gerald's called Anna but she wasn't my aunt. She was a waitress, and I could tell she was common. I tried to show her how to butter bread properly, and she started calling me Your Lordship. I tried to tell her that this was wrong, but she was stupid and she didn't understand. I have good manners, but I have no noble blood in me. All of my great-great-great-grandfathers were convicts, brought to the Hammer Bay Colony on prison ships. We go all the way back. Anna hasn't been around lately, so I think that's why Uncle Gerald's sad. If he comes home with me, Mummy will fix him up with someone proper. Mummy's good at that sort of thing.

I'm starting to think that all Americans are stupid. I asked Uncle Robert why he changed his name to Fanshaw. He said it was because Americans couldn't pronounce our name. Every educated person knows that Featherstonehaugh is pronounced that way. We had to go to Uncle Robert and Aunt Billie's church. We only went once, not every day like they usually do. It was all happy-clappy, and it scared me. They read the Bible all wrong. No one speaks proper English here. I asked if they sang hymns but Aunt Billie said it was old-fashioned. I got scared. Jesus is my Saviour, not my best friend. I sang hymns in my heart, and I hope God will forgive me for being there. When Mummy and Daddy come, we'll go to a proper church with a vicar.

Uncle Gerald has lots of books, but most of them are in Italian. I'd like to learn Italian. I think a lot of people speak Spanish here. Aunt Billie said I shouldn't talk to anyone who spoke Spanish or was African, but she won't tell me why. All the people at her church were Euros. My best friend at school was Vusi and he was African. So was our president before the Americans killed her.

It's hot in the car. I throw up. Aunt Billie gets upset.

They're having a party for me at the apartment. It's not really for me, though. There's a cake, and it doesn't have proper icing. There's no cream in it. There's no kids here. All of them are from their church, and they all sell things, I think. One of them pinched me and called me a good looking kid. I hate it here. I want to go home. I was allowed home from school for my birthday. We'd have Beef Wellington, and a cake. The servants and the mutates would sing Happy Birthday, and I'd get good presents. I could bring friends from school. When I was little, Daddy would carry me up to bed, after. I wish Daddy were here.

I was top of my class at school, I tell them, but no-one seems to be interested. I try to recite the Tennyson I'd learned, but the lady I'm talking to stands up and walks away before I'm halfway through. We're having McDonalds for dinner. There's only Coke to drink. Uncle Gerald used to give me wine with water in it. I think he'd like some wine now. I try some Coke. It tastes awful. I feel sick. Aunt Billie asks what's wrong. I tell her I don't like American Coke. It's not as good as Genoshan Coke. Genoshan Coke doesn't get up my nose and make me feel sick. Aunt Billie yells at me and at Uncle Robert, then she leaves. Everyone laughs. I try not to be sick. Aunt Billie comes back with a bottle of Coke. She says she found a store that sold Genoshan Coke. She gives me some. It's better.

Everyone is smoking and I start feeling sick again. There's only one bathroom and someone's in it and so I throw up on the rug. Someone asks me if I'm a sick kiddie. I get angry. I'm not a kiddie, I tell him, I'm not a son, not a sonny, not Ken, not Kenny, I'm Kenneth. Why can't they understand that? Aunt Billie grabs me by the arm and drags me into the bedroom, like a prefect at school. She brings Uncle Gerald. She slams the door. She asks Uncle Gerald if he's told me. He shakes his head. She tells me that I will be staying here until I'm older. She tells me that I can work in the restaurant when I'm older. I ask Uncle Gerald when we're going back. He mutters something about Anna and turns away again. Aunt Billie's trying very hard not to smile. She looks like a prefect who's about to thump you for doing something you didn't do.

My Mummy and Daddy are dead.