Free short story: The Whimsyless Tale of Firstname Lastname
Another month, another free short story!
This little book tells the tale of a young man, who due to a tragically comic series of events ended up being known as Firstname Lastname.
He spends his life dreaming of whimsical adventures with quirky characters, but alas, they always seem to elude him…
The Whimsyless Tale of Firstname Lastname
For as long as he could remember, Firstname Lastname believed his curious nomenclature would usher forth a life of whimsy. He felt the name was deserving of magnificent adventures with a cast of quirky characters, hi-jinks and escapades, tales that would be told for generations. And truth be told, that might well have been his lot in life, were he to have been born into a different life, in a different time, under different circumstances.
But that was not to be Firstname Lastname’s path through this world. His parents were taken from him on the day he was born, and he was placed in the care of his only living relative; an uncle who had no wish for a child, concerned that it would interfere with his lifestyle as a professional drunkard.
When Firstname Lastname’s uncle was handed a form to fill in information regarding the newborn, he looked at the clipboard through blurry, wavering vision, and proceeded to copy the subject headings into the boxes, for the most part.
First name: Firstname
Last name: Lastname
Sex: Yes please.
Due to continuing misunderstanding, the uncle then began to fill in his own information on the rest of the form. Thus Firstname Lastname became registered as a 210lb baby that was 5’7”.
Whimsy continued to be errant from Firstname Lastname’s life as he grew into infancy. His formula spiked with whisky to insure a placid nature that would not interfere with his uncle’s boozy regime. Firstname Lastname was sat in a corner, on a black bag, caged behind bundles of newspaper, and left to his own devices whilst his caregiver drank through the childcare allowance allotted to him.
It was being surrounded by words that enabled Firstname Lastname to teach himself to read, aided by hearing the audio from the television, as his uncle watched marathons of Airwolf and A-Team reruns.
By the time he was four, Firstname Lastname had learned to walk, and then to climb, freeing himself of the newspaper prison and wandering the house as his guardian slept. He would feed himself on what scant foodstuffs lay about in the kitchen, returning to his cell before the drunkard woke.
This pattern continued through to adolescence, and all this time, Firstname Lastname had never uttered a single word, knowing that any audible sound he made would likely anger the old man. The newspaper prison no longer gave him room to stretch. Every day, he sat crossed-legged in silence.
Every night, he slept crossed-legged, in silence.
It wasn’t until shortly after Firstname Lastname’s twelfth birthday that the overburdened Child Services Agency were able to finally able to check in on him. It took thirteen knocks on the door, and fifteen rings of the bell to garner a response. The Child Services agents stood patiently as they heard mutters, mumbles and grunts of the old man getting out of his chair, followed by the plodding thuds of flat, fat feet staggering towards the door, interspersed with shouts of “Just a minute!” and “I’m bloody coming!”. The knocks ceased upon these exclamations, as the agents waited for the door to open, and tried not to react to his belligerent greetings baked with hostility, all smothered in boozy breath. He reluctantly ushered them inside and introduced them to his nephew, giving Firstname Lastname the opportunity to speak his first words. Questions were asked of his life, education and well-being, and Firstname Lastname responded succinctly, eloquently, with a purity and unbridled honesty to each of his replies, with neither maleficence nor umbridge – for how was he to know that he was raised differently from any other child?
But of course, his upbringing was very different to any other child, deemed inhuman enough for the agents to remove him from his uncle’s care, and introduce him to the world that lay outside the walls of the only world he had known for his life thusfar.
A ward of the state for a time, he soon became snatched up by a foster family, who were very keen to add him to their collection of children his age and younger. They owned seven foster children in all, each sleeping in a single draughty room on one of four crudely constructed bunkbeds. Wads of newspaper had been padded into the holes under the windowsill in an attempt to keep the winds from whistling through and giving the children a chill, but the attempts were mostly in vain. Each child had upon their thin mattress, a crusty, yellowing sheet to stave off the cold, which like the newspaper window-caulking, was mostly for aesthetics.
However, Firstname Lastname considered it luxury, for it was more space than he had known his entire life. Even though the other children insulted him, bullied him, mocked and beat him, that bed felt like a castle compared to his monochrome cell.
Days after being introduced to this new family, the new continued, with his first day of school. The children there were as unkind to him as his foster siblings, perhaps even more-so. He was, of course, ridiculed for his name – even the teacher could not help but scoff. But Firstname Lastname took it in his stride, for he did not truly understand why his name might cause others to laugh.
After the initial weeks of laughter at his expense, his fellow students seemed to run out of jokes. Where there was once mirth, soon there was envy, as it became apparent that Firstname Lastname not only had quite the vocabulary, but also seemed to have quite the gift for mathematics and science. Thus the bullies’ tactics turned from making light of his name to accusing him of being a teachers pet, even though truth be told, the teachers had no love for him. They were unaccustomed to a gifted child, and grew tired of his hand being the first and sometimes only one raised when a question was asked.
In time, Firstname Lastname made friends.
One was a boy a year younger than himself, short and rotund, pale and freckled from head to toe, with arms that seemed too long for his body, and podgy little fingers at the ends of hands that almost disappeared into his wrists. He had been nicknamed Hello Howdyado by the other children, for that was how he always introduced himself.
Their other friend was a girl three years older, who due to a glandular condition, had shot up to 6’7” at the age of fourteen, and had to duck through doorways. The bullies, as creative as bullies are, called her Duck Thrudoors.
The three of them vowed to have each other’s backs through thick and thin, and even gave their collective a title; The Nicked Names Gang, called so because each of them had grown to feel that their true names had been stolen from them in one way or another.
When Firstname Lastname was beaten by a bully for always being the first with an answer, Hello Howdyado and Duck Thrudoors were there to put a stop to it.
When Hello Howdyado had his lunch money stolen, Firstname Lastname and Duck Thrudoors would not only scrimp together to buy him lunch, but also went with him to tell the teacher.
When the other girls stole Duck Thrudoors’ clothes whilst she was in the shower after gym class, Firstname Lastname and Hello Howdyado lent her spare clothes for the rest of the day.
No matter what the situation, no matter how they were persecuted, they would always help one another out, and encourage a rose-tinted outlook of potential bright sides.
But as the years went on, bright sides seemed farther and fewer between.
Duck Thrudoors graduated, leaving the two boys to fend for themselves. In her absence, their persecution seemed to intensify, and even when they weren’t being bullied, it felt to both of them that the threat of persecution lay around every corner, not just from their fellow students, but from the teachers and principal too.
They would seal themselves off in the computer lab every recess, sequestering in silence until the bell rang and it was time to go back to class.
In their classes, both Firstname Lastname and Hello Howdyado found themselves increasingly ignored by the teachers; who wanted to give the other students a chance to answer questions, and reviled by their peers; who year on year grew to loath the two for being smarter than themselves.
It was the grades that were the last straw for the bullies. The aggressors in both Firstname Lastname and Hello Howdyado’s classes united in a pact to teach the two of them a lesson for messing up the curves for them.
One recess, half of them headed straight to the computer lab and trashed it, leaving before Firstname Lastname and Hello Howdyado arrived. The other half split up and ran up to all the teachers they could find, bringing them to the room to catch the two boys ‘red-handed’.
Thus Firstname Lastname and Hello Howdyado were expelled, and Firstname Lastname found himself kicked out of his foster home. The state tried to relocate him again, and again, and again. Then finally, he met with a set of foster parents that were everything he could wish for.
This was how Firstname Lastname came to live as the child of a same sex couple. Their orientation was of no consequence to Firstname Lastname, but it was one of the details that the media would focus on after the fact; for delegation of blame and a hot button issue easily go hand in hand to lazy journalists.
The couple, Tim and John, welcomed Firstname Lastname into their home, and for the first time in his life, Firstname Lastname felt like he truly belonged somewhere.
He had his own room, his own bathroom, and was given free range of the living room, garden and kitchen. He was also told he could have his two friends over to visit whenever he wanted, but Duck Thrudoors had moved on to college, and Hello Howdyado’s parents had forbidden communication between the two.
So Firstname Lastname spent his free time alone with books, and the rest of his time being homeschooled by Tim or John. They pushed him intellectually, and gave him the challenge and praise he always thought he deserved. And although he still thought his nomenclature was destined for hi-jinks and escapades, for the first time in his life, Firstname Lastname was truly happy.
Until, that is, he got a call telling him that his foster parents were in the hospital, beaten by a gang who saw them leaving a restaurant hand-in-hand, who followed them to their car, and proceeded to assault them both. The prognosis for both Tim and John was not good, but Firstname Lastname could not bring himself to see them in that state. He could not bring himself to do much of anything.
Firstname Lastname sat in a daze. His mind blank. His heart numb. He knew Tim and John kept a wooden box under their bed, knew that he was forbidden to open it except in emergencies. To Firstname Lastname, this felt like an emergency.
Automatic pilot taking over, Firstname Lastname watched himself walk up the stairs, go into his fathers’ room, reach under the bed and pull the box from its hiding place, opening it and laying his fingers upon the contents. It felt snug in his hand, even though the plastic grip was rough against his palm. The silvery alloy frame hung out only and inch or so ahead of his knuckles, and he was amazed at how much lighter it was than he expected, weighing less than a small bag of sugar. Releasing the magazine, he inspected it to insure it was full. Seven .32 rounds sat on top of one another, gleaming a rose gold hue in the dim bedroom light. Hollow points. He knew about hollow points, recalling a documentary his uncle had slept through when he was younger that demonstrated the impact of a hollow point versus a full metal jacket round, the tip of the hollow point being intentionally weaker, the bullet expanding upon impact, bursting open like a blooming flower. Holding the weapon in his hand felt natural, second nature. He felt like Hannibal Smith in the A-Team, coming in to protect the good people from a threat.
It wasn’t difficult to find those responsible for hurting his foster parents, although Firstname Lastname never thought of them as ‘foster’, for they were the only true parental figures he ever knew. He waited outside the restaurant his fathers had left, watched the bars opposite, one of them would likely contain the assailants. It didn’t take long for them to appear, drunkenly boasting at the top of their voices about getting off scott free as they made their way to the next bar.
The first round clapped, like a balloon popping in his hand, lodging itself in the brickwork of the bar they were about to enter. The second through sixth rounds found their targets, splattering the pavement with a Pollock of brain and blood. Those that weren’t put down for good tried to reach for weapons hidden on holsters under their jackets, on their hips and strapped to their ankles, but Firstname Lastname was too fast, too intent with purpose. He had their weapons before they could grasp them, their meat exploding on to the concrete one by one. More paint for the artwork.
Hello Howdyado was woken by the clapping of thunder, and two crashes that followed. He looked to the window, expecting rain, but saw none.
The thunder continued, coming closer, and in a sleepy daze, Hello Howdyado realised it was not thunder, but hurried footsteps up the stairs. Rising from his bed, he met the steps at the door, seeing Firstname Lastname covered in sweat and speckles of red.
Firstname Lastname smiled. He had freed Hello Howdyado from his captors. But Hello Howdyado didn’t want to be freed, and certainly did not consider his parents ‘captors’. This was not the reaction Firstname Lastname expected, and as they went down the stairs together, and Hello Howdyado saw what had been made of his progenitors, he lashed out at Firstname Lastname, who reacted by pulling the trigger, out of instinct rather than intent.
He watched his friend fall. Watched as his nightclothes soaked with red that seeped into the carpet around him, forking out like ragged angel wings.
This was not part of his plan.
Not what he wanted for them.
But this was not his fault, none of this was his fault.
He closed the front door and sat with Hello Howdyado, as he gargled and struggled for breath. He was going to insure those responsible would pay.
The bell for recess covered the sound of the first shots, but the screams rang out over and across the campus. Firstname Lastname had no written list of those he was aiming for, but if he did, three of those names would have been crossed off by the first barrage of gunshots. The rest of those he wished to punish ran in the panic. But they were predictable with their hiding places.
The first two hid with nine others in the janitor’s closet, and Firstname Lastname quickly dispatched with them, harming the others only mentally rather than physically. He then made his way to the chem lab, where a group of students were mixing chemicals to create an explosive or smoke concoction, as they had seen done on television. Of course, due to broadcast regulations, the combination of chemicals in those shows had been intentionally inaccurate, and the mixture did nothing. Their industrious attempt at defence was rewarded by one of them receiving a round through his forehead, what little brains he had spat across the others, as if his skull could no longer stomach the acrid taste.
The library contained two further bullies, who hoped the many shelves would give them adequate sanctuary. They did not take into account the bank of CCTV monitors by the librarian’s desk, which displayed all the camera feeds, giving Firstname Lastname their precise location as soon as he entered.
Once they were dispatched with, Firstname Lastname knew his final location, and entered the cafeteria.
Whimpers and staggered breathing reverberated off the walls, as students and teachers hid behind counters and under tables in the hope he might pass them by. But Firstname Lastname had only three intended victims in the room, and they were not hard to acquire. The first shielded himself behind his girlfriend, begging and pleading not to be hurt, for her to be taken in his stead. Firstname Lastname had no intention of hurting her, and even apologised afterwards for grazing her leg, when his bullet tore through her skirt and nailed her boyfriend’s scrotum to the floor.
The second victim in the room was frozen in horror at seeing this, and couldn’t forge the words to protest the round that punched through his chest, tunnelling out the other side to introduce his heart and lungs to the outside world.
Then it was time for the final victim. One whose life skipped short of magnificent adventures with quirky characters, a legacy of hi-jinks and escapades. As he put the gun to his head, Firstname Lastname smiled and pulled the trigger.
At least, he thought, if nothing else, this would be a tale told for generations.