The Adopted One (Maybe)

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
This story is both humorous and (I hope) illuminating

Submitted: February 03, 2015

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Submitted: February 03, 2015




 “Maybe I was adopted,” thought Oscar LaWaigeau. Ever since he was little and shared a bunk job room with his older brothers, he had been the victim of an unmerciful barrage of taunts along those lines. But how else could one explain the fact that he was so different from the rest of his family? Both of his older brothers, Aaron and Frank, were athletically inclined and were on the fast track to becoming professional athletes when they matured. Even his younger sister, Connie, was the best player on her little-league soccer team.
Oscar’s parents had excelled in sports, too. His father had been drafted by both professional football and basketball teams before blowing out his knee. He was still involved in the sports world; he was the local high school gym teacher and the basketball coach of a team that always made the playoffs and frequently was in the hunt for the state championship. These days, Oscar’s father lived vicariously through his incredibly talented sons, Aaron and Frank. Oscar’s mother had been a field hockey star throughout her high school and college years. Visitors to the LaWaigeau house nearly tripped over all the trophies they had accumulated through the years. It wasn’t like the children didn’t practice their butts off, but they also inherited some sort of innate athletic ability; an ability that skipped over Oscar.
One might call Oscar the black sheep of the family, but he was actually more like a dun-colored sheep because of his drabness when compared to the rest of the family. It’s possible that Oscar may have been marginally athletic if he tried, but he had zero interest in sports. He preferred spending his free time alone in his room reading, growing his beard into funny shapes, and watching “Molested Envelopment” reruns on television while munching on government cheese. His siblings continued to tease him; especially when he started sleeping with his glasses on in order to see his dreams more clearly. His quiet manner contrasted greatly with the loud and gregarious nature of his brothers and sister, who constantly had one or more teammates over to the house, where they always had a cherry tomato-popping good time hurling epithets at each other as they jumped on the backyard trampoline.
Even though his siblings teased Oscar incessantly about his lack of athletic interest, his parents never gave him a hard time. His father did sit him down once to have a heart to heart talk. The gist was that Oscar needed to work on defining himself like his brothers and sister had. For instance, Aaron was the standout on his basketball team and he was known as a reverse oreo. The younger Frank was the cut-up and always had his teammates in stitches (although they were easily amused). One of his regular bits was saying to someone, “Can I be Frank with you?” Of course, the joke was that he couldn’t be otherwise since his name was Frank. Even Oscar had to admit that it was a little amusing. But this was so the first half-dozen times. It ceased to be funny as the bit approached a hundred times. His little sister, Connie, was a born leader and that dovetailed nicely with her natural bossiness, and she led her friends and teammates around by the nose.
 So his father was concerned that Oscar didn’t assert his personality the way his siblings did, and he warned that life would be difficult if Oscar didn’t emphasize himself more. He said that at present, Oscar had no discernible personality for people to latch onto.
 But as he got older, Oscar realized that his well-meaning father had been wrong; Oscar learned that if a person doesn’t assert his personality, people tend to impose one upon him. Thus, instead of having no personality at all, Oscar had many different personalities depending on who he was with. For instance, one time Oscar lent his car to a couple of friends to buy some beer. In the tape deck was a James Taylor album, which he had currently pulled from his eclectic music collection. From then on, Oscar was pegged as a mellow dude who liked soft rock.
After floating from one insignificant job to another, and as he approached his thirties, Oscar moved into one of a row of four apartments which had one mailbox that all the tenants shared. One of Oscar’s religious cousins sent him a gift subscription to a Christian magazine. The other tenants saw this and assumed that Oscar was a religious fellow, which he wasn’t. One of the apartment tenants was a nice heavyset woman who didn’t own a car and she walked to the end of the block in order to catch a bus to work. When Oscar saw her one day as she crossed the intersection in front of his car, he offered to give her a ride. But as she approached the car from where she was being beckoned, Oscar saw that she wasn’t his heavyset neighbor at all, but a heavyset teenager from the adjoining neighborhood. From then on, the rumor spread that some older guy was trolling the neighborhood and trying to pick up young girls.
 Something else happened around this time that reinforced Oscar’s idea that he must have been adopted: He developed a sense of humor. Nobody else in his family possessed much of a sense of humor (despite Frank’s reputation). In keeping with his quiet nature, the humor was mostly for him; he didn’t care if anyone else thought he was funny. So when an uncle—who was a police officer—stopped by to visit Oscar while on duty, Oscar joked to an overly inquisitive neighbor that the cop at his house was his parole officer. This glib remark merged nicely with the burgeoning rumor that Oscar liked young girls, and the quiet man was branded (behind his back) as a paroled pedophile. One neighbor visited him once while Oscar was watching television. He was watching a reality show about dogs and their owners. Oscar joked that the show would be much more interesting if the team voted off were put down; not just the dog, but the owner, too. The horrified neighbor left, thinking that not only was Oscar inhumane to animals, but he was a misanthrope as well. But another of his neighbors stopped by Oscar’s apartment quite often. And when said neighbor (who was, in fact, a clandestine drug dealer) turned up in his home murdered to death, Oscar was on the short list of suspects. When an investigation found traces of the dead man’s blood spread about Oscar’s apartment (from the dead man’s frequent nosebleeds brought on by snorting cocaine). And when Oscar was found to be a regular customer of the dead drug-dealing neighbor, he was promptly arrested. It was surmised that he committed the crime because a drug-deal had gone wrong. All the neighbors were ecstatic that this weird man (Oscar) was off the streets. The only ones to proclaim his innocence were members of his estranged family. His mother and father said that Oscar was a gentle man and could never harm another person. Truth be told, Oscar loathed these kinds of pronouncements. Most people never fully know themselves, and to claim to know someone else so completely as to know what he would or would not do seemed to Oscar to be the height of arrogance. But in this case they were correct. Oscar was unable to hurt another human being. That’s why he hired someone else to kill the neighbor.

© Copyright 2019 Stephen Huether. All rights reserved.

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