Prof. Fether

[Doctor’s Note: Nurse Feratu brought this to me yesterday. We copied it and put the original back in Fether’s cell before he discovered we knew about it. This is a stroke of good fortune for me. It will enable me to see into Fether’s psyche more deeply than ever, without the artifice of the doctor/patient relationship interfering.]

The Life and Times of P. Fether

The Florida Everglades.  Funny. I used to hate it as much as I hated the Grims. I kind of miss it now. Isn’t that the way it always is? Just like the special people I encountered once I left the Everglades. You seem to love ‘em then hate ‘em then take care of ‘em then miss ‘em. We hunted gators and tiny deer. I don’t remember my mother and father. As I said before, I was raised by Brother Grim. And Sister Grim. Bible-fearing people who followed the adage “Spare the rod, spoil the child.” The rod wasn’t spared.  No, as a matter of fact you could almost say it was ubiquitous in my early years. A fact of Life. A fact that was constantly a part of my reality.  That and darkness. I don’t think I even knew ‘bout daylight ‘til I was five or so.
My earliest memories are of Sister Grim leaning over my bed. Her eyes held barely controlled demons in them, in her head, struggling to get out. She would lean in close. I think she did it so I would get a clear picture of the demons. Catch the detail. A smear of homicidal rage swiped helter skelter across visages created for chaos, all twisted and gnarly, with boils and open sores oozing vile viscuous liquids, I knew at that early age – what, about four, I guess – that the demons wanted to come out. The demons in her eyes. Sometimes they creeped down into her mouth. Cruelly stroked lips, as thin as pine needles, as caustic as lime. The demons would then creep down into her arms. One of her hands would find The Rod. She called it the Rod of Light. I called it the Rod of Pain. The Rod of Torture.  I would later christen it The Rod of Retribution.
Brother Grim was the same. I remember riding in the boat with him, frog-gigging.  I was probably around six at the time. Somewhere in there. I remember this particular time because it wasn’t long after they started letting me come out into the light for short periods of time. He never spoke anything other than quotes from the Bible. But he wasn’t very bright and the quotes were never appropriate to the situation. In anybody else’s head, that is, except his own and sometimes Sister Grim’s. I think Sister was just humoring him. I do recall the Rod of Pain getting a taste of Sister now and then, usually after Brother Grim quoted something that was particularly funny to the situation, and the tiniest of smiles would erupt on Sister’s face. Those were some times when I smiled to myself. The secret smile.
It was when I was about fourteen that the voices became clear in my head.  The Grims had voices in their heads all the time. They said they were the voices of angels and Jesus and God himself. I wished really hard for some voices to come into my head. Voices to tell me what to do. I didn’t want the same voices, though, that the Grims spoke of. Those voices translated into pain and suffering for me. I didn’t want any part of them. I wanted my own set of voices. It was only natural that I should look to the opposite of the Grims’ voices.
I remember the first voice. I was out in the yard one day, doing nothing, just staring up at the treetops, at the water not too far away, smellin’ the water, the smell of fish and worms. An osprey called in the distance. I was alone for a change. The Grims had been leaving me alone for a while. I had figured out that if I requested a taste of The Rod, they would believe I was on the True Path To Righteousness. As a consequence, they had begun to trust me more than before.
“The demons need to be released.”
That’s all it said. It kind of scared me. At the same time, it sounded very familiar, like it was one of the mumbling voices that had been with me since I could remember. Anyway, what it said made perfect sense to me.
The demons needed to be released.
I’m tired of writing. Need to sleep. Dream. More later.
I don’t know what day it is. I don’t care what day it is. All days are the same these days. Routine. That’s why I decided to write this memoir, so to speak. Something to break the routine. I’ve always hated routine. Routine was the color of my early life.
Routine. Wake up. Dark. Damp. I could barely sit up. Couldn’t stretch my arms straight out. Complete darkness except for a thin sliver of light at the bottom and bent halfway up the door. It made a fine white shape on the dirt floor. The door would open. I can still remember when I didn’t flinch when I saw the door open. I think that might have happened only two or three times. At the beginning, in a row. I was young and knew nothing. I was a half-filled slate, genetics dictating a certain proclivity toward other humans. Waiting for the slate to be filled with love and companionship, the only things that truly matter in this harsh reality. Yes, only two or three times. The fear, the dread, the horror would flood in, would pull me into a maelstrom of feelings that swirled and raged around each other while all the time being pulled into the void, the abyss of nothingness. I stood on the edge of that abyss many times. I learned to enjoy peering into it, trying, in idle moments, to discern some form within formed from nothingness, an invisible form that would only become visible through willpower, my willpower. I understood the irony.
When they finally started letting me out into the light, I knew hope. I saw foolishness. Weakness. The Rod was strong but the bearers were not. I learned early on to play to that. Don’t get me wrong.  There were times when  The Rod was used to its fullest potential. It was used for beatings mostly. But Sister Grim used the end of it one day as a device of insertion. That was the day the Pain was the worst. That was the day she seemed to be the happiest. She kept saying, “How do you like it? How does that feel? You must learn the pain of depravity before you can succumb to His will. How does that feel, little Toad? How does that feel?” My answer, lacquered with excrutiating agony, was always the same: “Teach me, Sister. Show me the way to the Light. Teach me. Guide me.” Sometimes I spent days recovering.  That’s why the right side of my face is partially paralyzed. I know it’s not all that noticeable unless you know what to look for. But it’s there and it was caused by The Rod. Sister Grim wielded it that time. She was quite concerned for several days after the incident. I believe she was worried she had damaged me deeply and permanently. When I started to get better, she went back to her old self, no doubt sure that my not dying or being crippled and useless was a sign from god that what she was doing was the right course to follow. Who was I to argue with her? Then. I was just a boy. I was a smart boy, to be sure. A clever boy. And I became a very clever young man out of the will to survive.
I want to talk about the first time they took me to town. I was seven and could barely speak. Oh, I could think the words, could envision how they went together in my head, but when I tried to push them out of my mouth, they got stuck just behind my teeth. They came out in an incoherent jumble, an alien utterance unknown to mankind.
“Idiot boy?” Lem the grocery store owner said as he stared thoughtfully at me.
Brother Grim just nodded. “Cousin from up north. Parents killed in a car wreck. We thought it the Christian thing to do to take him in, give him a good home. The bible says,  ‘Suffer the little ones.’ We’re doing our duty.”
Lem nodded then looked away from me. I tried to say something else. Two words actually came out right. “…nice…you.” Lem ignored me.
“What can I get ya?” Lem said to Brother Grim. We headed to the back of the store.
After that first trip to town, they let me stay outside for most of the day. I had to stay in the yard. I learned that early. I also learned that the Grims like to take a nap in the middle of the afternoon, the hottest time of the day. I learned to wait until I heard them moaning and even hollering sometimes. Soon after that, I knew they would be asleep. You ask yourself how I know this. All right. I snuck up and watched them a few times. That’s how I knew they would sleep for over an hour after they were done groping and pawing each other.  I can be very patient. Very patient.
I started exploring. I stole a watch from Brother’s bureau when they were sleeping. It was funny. I hid it behind the shed. I wrapped it in a piece of oil cloth I found in the shed and buried it under a rock. Brother Grim was furious. He was sure I had taken the watch. He turned my cell upside down. He beat me with the Rod until I passed out. I never confessed. Not to him. Never to him. Or her. And I waited. I can be very patient.
I took the watch out every day when the Grims were taking a nap. Then I would go exploring.
We lived on a small patch of land on the edge of the Everglades. The Grims owned two row boats and an airboat. -The airboat was old and had only two seats. Brother Grim took single fishermen out into the ‘glades. They did that a lot at night. I sometimes heard the laughter of a young person, probably female. Sounded like it, anyway. I couldn’t see through the slats in the shed in that direction to know for sure. I really didn’t know it sounded like a girl until I went into town for the first time with the Grims. I saw two young girls walking down the sidewalk. They ate ice cream cones. I was so naïve back then. I didn’t even know what an ice cream cone was. Anyway, the girls were walking along and suddenly they were laughing and giggling. That is until they came alongside the truck where I sat. Then they got real silent as they sped up to get past the truck. And me. I saw the look in their eyes when they passed by me. It was a look of fear. I couldn’t understand it at the time. I later figured out it was fear of my power. They knew instinctively I was not someone to mess with. I hadn’t figured it out at the time, but I still felt good. And I loved that feeling.
I would take one of the rowboats and head out. I would time it so that I would be back home a safe time before the Grims woke up. I loved going out into the glades by myself. I wouldn’t do much. Just sit in the boat and listen and watch. If you sat still long enough (and I was a very patient person), the world would start to come alive, would resume its normal state of activity. Aligators swam by. Little deer came to the edge of the water and drank, their tiny little heads popping up every few seconds, snapping back and forth so their huge eyes and sharp ears could take in their surroundings. For there were predators, which came in many forms. Gators. Hawks. Fox. Panthers. And…no, I don’t think I’ll talk about that right now. That’s a story for another time.
Okay, my hand is getting tired. My head is starting to hurt. I think I’m getting a migraine. That means He is coming into my head. I want to rest. I don’t want to be around when He’s around. Will continue later.

Click HERE for part 2.

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