Authors: Eric Berg
All course language in this novel is inspired by Bush’s Military who while looking for enemy’s weapons randomly enter, in Iraq and Afghanistan; mostly unarmed civilians’ homes terrify them with F-bombs.
How many times have I died? Each epoch of my life started with my death.
My birth occurred simultaneously with the In Cold Blood murders: November fifteen, nineteen fifty nine. As those four died, I died too. The events of that day are a mystery: a cosmic drift. On that day, Herbert, Bonnie, Kenyon, and Nancy Clutter were slain in Holcomb, Kansas by Perry White and Dick Hitchcock.
I entered Feet first through the birth canal.
White slit Herbert's throat after he had drag him into the parlor. White cradled the father‘s head in the pit of the elbow. They stood amidst a simple but sturdy, well maintained furniture set. For twenty years Bonnie had kept a welcoming home for family and friends, as well as strangers in need. White dropped him as if he had needed nothing more from him. Herbert flopped onto the floor hard.
If the two men had him asked for help, Herbert would have generously
helped them. Herbert was known for helping of the disenfranchised. Instead of a hand out he handed out jobs—either on his farm or through friends’. He provided above average wages and good conditions. This came Along with Bonnie’s bountiful meals.
I gagged as my head jammed in the internal entrance of the birth canal.
Blood gushed out the Herbert's wound; glistening in the moonlight that beamed through the six pane window.
White bashed Kenyon's head in with the butt of the shotgun. Blood gushed from the boy’s eyes as he crawled on the wooden floor to and finally hold his father. He put his head on his father’s heart and died. Hitchcock let out a whoop. White put his chin toward his chest; blinking.
The inexperienced Navy doctor tugged at my feet, but my head would not budge out of the birth canal. The doctor wiped his brow. He looked confused at the whitewash wall of the birthing area in the Naval Hospital. He looked out the window at the dusting snow in the pitch black Rhode Island night. He returned his struggle.
Up the stairs, the murderers went to the petrified mother and daughter. They thought how fortunate their two older daughters were not home. For a minute, the women knew their love ones were dead; for a minute Hitchcock demanded Nancy. Perry halted him. Murder without torture. Hitchcock blew Bonnie’s face off with the shotgun. She toppled on the floor. Blood pooled on the carpet.
“Mama,” Nancy screamed; crying hysterically. Then he shot off the back of Nancy's head. She landed quickly on Bonnie. White turned away from the women. Hitchcock protruded his chin. Tilt his head forward; glared at what he did.
After three minutes of the doctor's heaving, I broke free of the canal and slid through. The doctor performed mouth to mouth resuscitation on me.
As a toddler, I walked the city's streets alone. People stared at me on those city streets and not only because I was four. I still walked observing-- self-taught. I tripped and fell; tripped and tripped and fell still walked on through my endless journey.
I died. I died on a rock. I died in a window well. I died on several stony hills. Seventeen times my head busted open. Still, I walked those city streets, at four or five. I did not stop. I did not know the reason I kept dying. Blood kept seeping in my eyes.
I remembered, at eight, walking on a frozen pond. I left my green painted house. It had two thousand square feet among two stories. It had a fairly large front lawn but no backyard. The backyard is a cliff slipping into a hole in the woods. First I walked in the cud a sack of my residence. The single road looped the neighborhood. Woods surrounded the cud-a-sack. Three years ago, this land lay empty. It was undeveloped. Now large houses stood on three quarter acre lots. This development is seventy five percent completed. At the crutch of the road’s loop I strolled among houses still under construction. Mud peeked through the brownish snow. I walked throughout these houses in a cold overcast rural Massachusetts day. Stepping into one of the houses, I came on a slippery floor where there was, over there, a blackened hole. This is where the stairs would be in the house. I walked to the hole. I looked down it to the ditch below and to its not yet a basement. I slipped a little on the icy floor. I gained my balance at the edge of the hole. I sauntered further inside to explore the upstairs to its many undone rooms.
After searching through this house, I roamed away from the houses into the thicket. I went a long way away from civilization. I stepped on the ice wandering to discover whatever might be discovered. Around me grew tan paper like grass and cattails on the frozen pond I went here to be alone, as I always did, into a wilderness. Yet I had never been her before. Nothing that was man made was around me. Mud mushed by melted snow. The cold wind produced a rawness that reddened my checks. It gave me a face of slight pain.
I treaded along on the ice. I was slipping and recovering; finding out more. The ice cracked below my feet. I fell in, my arms spread wide on the remaining ice. My armpits hinged over the edge. I hung there for a few minutes--panting. I looked up at the grey sky. I knew how to swim. So I kicked as if to tread water. The kick propelled me on top of the ice. I slid myself until I was well passed the thin ice. I then casually went home.
I awoke mornings to an empty house in Illinois. Age twelve. Not a person in sight. It was a fully furnished manor. The cupboards were full. I poured cereal and milk. Not a complicated meal. I ate the bowlful at the breakfast nook. The kitchen shaped long and narrow; the floor stoned; light brown trimmings. I rarely went in the den, nor the large dining room or living room or any other room in the other part of the house. I never crossed the great divide. I knew my bedroom, my bathroom and kitchen. Fortunately I had the rec room on the part of the house that I was allowed in. That is where I watched television in color (but no cable or dish). Maybe cable was just starting but I did not know of it. It was at its conception.
I took my fifty cents for lunch money and took off on my bike for school. Each morning the neighbor would stand on his front lawn and smiled at me. He put his thumb and forefinger in a circle on his eye and says “be seeing you.” The only conversation I had in my childhood.
I went to Lake Forest Country Day school. All I remembered of this place was that the teachers were constantly spitting their venom at Nixon. I was ignored by my peers, save when I was stuffed in the trash can and put on the desk. At other times I was canned in a darkened closet. Then they high tailed it out of the classroom. Or when I was tackled to the ground, pinned down, and they made me naked for their exploration. Neither Gordy Amour bacon nor Nathan swift Premium ever assaulted me. Fun fact: Gulliver’s travels' Jonathan Swift bore Swift Premium—I mean the people that founded it—I mean through several generations.
Then I would go home. I would do my homework in my room upstairs; segregated from the rest of the house. I would go down to the kitchen each night. There would be a hot meal sitting alone on the table. I would eat it. Then I would go back to my homework. When I was done I would watch television. Now that I think of it, that was all there was; sans playing baseball.
In a big backyard that was surrounded by dense foliage. I played baseball. I threw the ball and hit the ball across the entire yard; sometimes hitting the house. Sometimes I broke the kitchen bay window. Each part of the yard I designated the success of each hit: a double, a triple. If a hit landed in the tiny balcony on the second floor it was a homerun. I run around bases passing Billy Williams and Don Kissinger. Sometimes if I thought if it was worthy; I would catch the fly ball, I had just hit, for an out. During the summer I mowed Bobby Douglass’ lawn. Do you remember him? He played starting quarterback for the Bears. At the time it was when Bukkis played. Actually his house was smaller and less elegant than mine. In fact I knew Jerry West at these times.
All my teachers hated me. If I was lucky they would ignore me. I should have homeschooled myself.
Unfortunately school interfered with my successfully teaching of myself. One of the worst things I did in childhood was to take the SAT only once and without preparation. One of the perils of being self-taught—no one there to tell how to do it. Another peril was no one taught me how to study. After all, my hometown is TVLAND.
During high school I was able to use my family Silver Camaro. I just parked my car when a pretty girl came up and said to her, “cool car!”
I said to her, “why?”
I graduated from Centre College of Kentucky.
I received an academic scholarship to go to Vanderbilt University Divinity School.
I lived in, alone, in the Greenhill’s section of Nashville, Tennessee. My neighbor was Porter Wagner.
I sat in the Davison County Social Services office. I sat in a small light blue windowless office. I fronted a large office desk.
“I’ve never gi
ven food stamps to anyone living in Greenhills before,” said the Social worker to me. She was blind.
“It helps me to get in the Federal Work-Study program at school.” I assured her.
I lived alone in a seven thousand square foot mansion, with a pool on two and half acres. My mother had gone to live in Ocho Rios, Jamaica with her sister. My aunt owned both the Silver Seas and Golden Seas resorts. She also owned the Clevelander and Finnegan’s in Miami Beach.
When entering my house one would be confronted with a den that was bigger than the average house. I slept in the rec room over the garage. The bedrooms were on the other side of the house. I felt guilty. I wanted to open the house to the homeless.
I stacked books at the Vanderbilt University library. Also I got sixty dollars a month for displaying American Express posters. These posters had pouches for applications. After I got back from winter break, cafeteria coupons kept appearing in my school mail box.
I sat in the Tennessee Synod Superintendent’s office of the United Methodist Church, The superintendent, behind his big desk, wagged his finger at me, and said, “Because of your speech impediment, I will never present you for ordination. Now get out of my office!”
“Never mind what he says, “Said the pastor in his office in of Belmont Methodist Church, as I sat across of him from his desk, “I’ll help you get ordained. Just keep up your studies.”
“These are your final grades, “Said the Academic Dean, who also was an United Methodist minister, standing across from me. Another professor stood with him to support him, on the back lawn of the Divinity School, “Ds and a B.”
I looked across the spacious back lawn of university campus. “Based on my midterms and terms papers I would have had to had gotten all 0s on those finals to have gotten those Ds.”
Unmoved the Dean continued: “You are going to be placed on academic probation and your scholarship will be taken away. If you returned next year you will not succeed. Don't come back, Eric!”
Later, I would flunk out of three other schools with a GPA of3 point five (A-). I only graduated from Centre College in my life. Sometimes I wondered if I had attended a different college rather than Centre, would I have even had a bachelor degree. The thought of me going through life without a bachelor degree is both horrifying and disgusting. Perhaps Centre College is the most compassionate college in the world.