[An Investment for the Future, 904 words, Genre: Dark Humour]
* Image courtesy of Dirk de Bruyn
William was an orphan. He had never known his parents, they could have been drug addicts unable to cope with parental responsibilities, they could have been something else. Will would never know the truth that led to his birth, the only truth he would come to know was the truth of his life. And what a miserable truth that was that he had to live with. As a babe he was fed on nutritional supplement D-26, a substitute for milk that a company was paying the orphanage to test out their product. He was a lab rat from day one, he grew into a strong willed infant on nutritional supplement D-26, the product would never gain a place on the supermarket shelves. It was found that the product had adverse side effects, none of which William would learn about. He could have if he wanted to, under the freedom of information act he had that right, but nobody ever made mention of the supplement to him in his upbringing, so why should he care to seek out such information?
The one shining ray of hope in Will’s life was Diego. Diego was a community volunteer who volunteered two hours of each fortnight to work with the children at the orphanage. He held events for a group of them. Initially, he would read children’s storybooks, but as the children grew so would the activity. He would take them to the movies, to restaurants, all activities that the orphanage provided the funding for. Diego would tell the children the same thing every time, “You kids haven’t had it easy. You don’t have a family to support you as all these other kids have had whilst growing up. But you do have one thing, you’ve got me. Consider me as the father you never had and I’ll consider you as the sons and daughters I never had. The world’s a cruel place, I know that only too well and you kids will have a fairer taste of it than most. Just remember, treat me with respect and I’ll do the same for you.” Will bought into it, the fantasy of having a father. That fantasy took him further than most. He finished high school and got into university. Even after he had left the orphanage he still kept in touch with Diego. Some of the other kids didn’t get so far, they went off the rails and turned to petty crime and the life path of drug addiction. When they did this, Diego was no longer there for them. His spiel about being the father they never had turned into a different one. Will remembered the explanation that Diego had given him, “You see, Will, there’s some people in this world you can help and there’s others you can’t. Only people who know within themselves that they need help can make the positive changes in their life to go seeking it.” Diego was full of wisdom in that way. The years of life experience that he had over the children, were an invaluable asset to them. There was only a few of them left, four of them to be precise. Diego no longer took them to the movies, or any of that other stuff, the orphanage no longer provided funding for such activities, besides Will and the others had long since grown out of such things. He did provide them some fatherly advice at times, but that was the extent to his involvement. They were geared for the world, ready to take it on. Out of the four of them, Will was the artist. The others pursued more practical trades: nurse, banker and carpenter respectively.
Will finished university and made the attempt to integrate himself in society. He worked hospitality jobs unsuccessfully, from there he sought work in call centres, this too opened up a pit of despair for Will. In a fit of desperation, he called Diego. “Dad,” they had all come to call Diego ‘dad’, “I just lost another job. I don’t know what to do. I’m not getting any recognition for my work as an artist, it’s all just beyond hope.”
There was silence at the end of the phone. A full minute of silence passed before Diego answered, “Fuck! I should have known you were a bad investment.”
“What do you mean, ‘I was a bad investment’? I’ve been trying, I’ve really been trying.”
“Yeah, well in the real world, there’s a saying and it goes like this, ‘you either get it done or you don’t, there is no such thing as try.’ Don’t call me ever again, I don’t want anything else to do with you, I’m cutting you loose just like with all the other fuck-ups.” The phone went dead.
If a paternity test were ever conducted, it would have been found that Diego was, in fact, the biological father. Not just of Will, but of all the children in the orphanage he had attempted to guide through life. Diego had made a decision long ago to invest in children, children being the future of tomorrow. Diego was cunning though, realising that very few succeed in this world and only the strong survive. As for Will, he soon found himself destitute and homeless. Then involved in the spiralling abyss of drug addiction. He didn’t last long, something to do with a poor constitution from a lack of nutrients whilst a babe…