GUEST BLOG: C. DARWIN DECAY PART TWO by J.C. Eickelberg
“It’s nice to see you again, Dominic,” his mother said.
“And nice to see you, too, Elizabeth.” He turned to his son. “How have you been?”
“About the same as when we talked last,” he responded. “Just touching on the topic of family inheritance.”
“I see. What concerns do you have?” Dominic asked his grandson. His cloak fell off his shoulders and arched away from his sides, mimicking the angel’s wings. Logan saw Dominic’s cloak wasn’t clothing. It was a pair of wings. A figure glided to his side, as graceful as any angel.
“Good evening, mother,” Logan’s father said.
“Good evening, Gregor,” she said. “This must be that grandson of mine. My how you’ve grown into such a handsome young man. You’ve got your mother’s dark hair.” She smiled at the young man sitting on the plinth.
Logan stared at the winged couple standing in his yard. They were the warm grandparents he remembered from his youth, with the exception of the wings. He didn’t remember their wings from previous visits. He had wondered if they had passed away given their rare contact with him. When he flung out the insult about being a gargoyle, he never expected to see them as real. His grandparents appeared as close to his imagination of what one would look like. Then he looked at his father. There was no mistaking the resemblance to his grandfather’s bulky form and grandmother’s kind eyes. The only exception was his lack of wings. Some gargoyles he’d seen were grotesque. His grandmother was regal in her beauty and his grandfather was noble in his bearing. Both were preternaturally tall and well defined for their apparent age. And nothing like the bestial ornamentation on an old building.
“Logan, you are part of a long line of special beings,” his mother said. Her sable complexion glowed warm with love, but stern. She soothed his fear and uncertainty.
“Where are your wings?” Logan asked his father. “And yours? And mine, for that matter?” He looked at his mother.
“Mine were damaged too badly when I was younger to keep. Unfortunately, I had to have them removed. I have the scars to prove they were there. Yours weren’t formed correctly,” Gregor said. “Your mother was the donor of the DNA used to correct your ‘anomaly’.”
“Your anomaly was malformed wings,” his grandmother said. “I would have offered to donated my DNA, but your parents pointed out you would have been the only flyer in town. No one would have been around when it came time to get you acquainted with flying. Your grandfather and I spend a lot of time visiting family all over. Accepting communities of our kind are few and far between. Wings are a rarity here in your town. If your wings were left as they were, your spine would have become misshapen.”
“Logan, I wasn’t born with wings. I was a rarity for our kind. No wings meant I could walk among everyone and not get pointed at or taunted.” Elizabeth went to sit next to her son. “I love your father for who he is. Not for something he’s not or doesn’t have. I know the story of how he lost his wings. He knows I never had them. I almost wished I had wings to experience flight, but then I realize in this day and age, we don’t have the freedom to fly like your grandparents could in their youth.”
“Logan,” his grandmother said. “Your wings gradually reduced to nothing after your treatment. Your parents didn’t tell you because they wanted you to grow up like other kids in the neighborhood. No wings meant you wouldn’t have to hide them or explain them. Your grandfather and I lived in a small community that accepted us and treated us as equals. Neighboring villagers tended to treat us as demons, or worse. Some of my family were killed for being who we are.”
“Even though you don’t have wings like we do,” his grandfather said, gesturing to his wife, “we still love you as much as we love your father and mother. It makes no difference to us. You are family. You have your special traits you’re learning to use, and honing very well from what I’ve seen.”
“What you have seen?” Logan asked, astonished they knew so much about what he did in his spare time. “I haven’t seen you in years.”
“I saw you intercept and catch that hawk. Your timing was very good,” he said. Logan recalled the large shadow crossing the driveway when he leaped off the roof. “I saw you walk out of the house, but not how you stalked the squirrel. Your agility and reflexes are phenomenal. Aren’t they Althea?”
“They most certainly are.” She saw Logan’s confusion. “We were far above the hawk, waiting for shadows to lengthen. Riding thermals is just as invigorating as it was when we were younger.”
“I have so many questions to ask you.” Logan looked at his grandparents. Wonder and awe welled up in him. He remembered seeing images from folk art and old architecture of gargoyles or creatures more animal-like than the beings in front of him. His grandparents were quarterback and cheerleader good looking, even in their advanced age. “How old are you? Where did you grow up? Where do you live now?”
“A good place to start. We grew up in a small town in the mountains long before airplanes were thought up. Our town was the last to get electricity, and still has a population of our kind. There are many of us out there. You may have seen the gargoyles on old buildings?” Logan nodded, remembering their beastly appearance. His family did not resemble those animals. They all could walk down the street with no second looks. His father appeared as normal as anyone he’d seen at the store. The wings his grandparents had were the only obvious difference between themselves and people in school. “We are not those creatures. Wings are the most obvious similarities. Some other features are more easily left unseen.” Althea tapped a lengthened canine tooth with a long nail.
Logan looked at his fingers. His nails (or were they claws?) didn’t show their length like when he caught the hawk. He thought about them and they extended with a little effort.
“I know it’s harder for us to hide those,” Gregor said, extending his claws. They lengthened significantly. “Some of us can get away with longer ‘nails’.” He looked lovingly at his wife, who checked a rough edge on one claw.
“That I can do,” Logan said. “What about this?” He stood and removed his shirt. What had started as a downy covering of hair was filling out to a glossy coat of fur.
“Goodness,” Althea stated. She examined the color of Logan’s thickening pelt. “You certainly have your mother’s coat and color. It suits you handsomely.”
“Grandmother, no other kids have this much hair. I’ve been able to hide the claws and teeth. No one else I’ve seen in school has hair like this.” Logan’s angst came out in his protest. “People have wondered why I don’t go to the pool. I want to go. I want to have friends that accept me.”
“We will always accept you,” Althea said. “You may not have wings, but we love you. I’m jealous of you in one thing. I’ve never been able to climb as well as you do. I’m sure there are kids that would want to know how you can climb like you do. Friends will come. If they accept you, then keep them. You need to be patient with others and find how they react to us before letting them know what you are.”
“Logan. Unfortunately, your hair isn’t so easy to explain to others. Some babies were hairy. Some don’t grow out of it.” His mother gave him a coy smile. She pulled her shirt up as if to pull it over her head.
“Mom!” Logan declared as he turned his head away.
“Logan. Look at me.” She was stern.
Logan looked toward his grandparents. They showed no shock, or surprise at his mother’s action. His grandmother gestured back to her daughter-in-law.
“Logan. Your mother has more to tell you,” his grandfather said. Sternness demanding Logan to return his attention to his mother.
She stood closer to him now, shirt in hand. Wearing a skimpy top he’d seen her wear during dance practice, his mother stood unperturbed without a shirt. Logan had never seen her without something fully covering her torso. He saw the same velvety layer of hair covering her shoulders and bare belly that covered his torso.
“Yes. You have inherited something from me that doesn’t quite fit in with everyone else.” His mother watched Logan’s face. Acceptance came slowly to Logan. “I’ve seen some people watching you. Most looked who at you were taken by you. I’ve seen admiration of your good looks. That anomaly you had, wings notwithstanding, would have left you hunched over. The little bit extra I gave you through that DNA treatment meant you weren’t going have funny looking wings on a hunched back. It may have meant a little more hair, but you can deal with it. I’ve seen how well you’ve grown into it.”
“Might this be one of those classmates that watches you, Logan?” Grandmother Althea asked.
Logan peered over his shoulder to see his grandmother looking back toward the house. Her wings were wrapped around her shoulders, appearing as a cloak in the growing darkness. With a place to look, Logan turned to see someone coming down the driveway. A friendly smile on the newcomer’s face.
“Good evening, Michelle,” Logan’s mother said. “What can I do for you?”
“Good evening, Mrs. Everson,” Michell said. “I wanted to drop off your dance shoes. They came into the store today. I thought I’d save you a trip to pick them up. It’s on my way home.” Michelle smiled warmly. Seeing Logan, a twinkle appeared in her eyes. “Hi, Logan.”
“Hi, Michelle.” Logan smiled back. He forgot about his trepidation of fitting in at school. He also forgot about the shirt in his hand.
“I don’t want to interrupt a family get together.” Michelle gave the shoes to Logan’s mother. “See you at school, Logan.” She turned to leave. As she did, she pushed some hair behind her ear. Logan noticed the tuft of hair on the top of her ear. Michelle fluttered her fingers at Logan and went back down the driveway. Shock settled on Logan’s face.
“Mom,” Logan said, looking at her. “Did you know?”
“Know what?” she asked, innocently.
“That’s she’s part Lynx,” he said.
“No. I knew she liked you.” Logan looked at her, not believing her. “That’s why I told her to stop by with the shoes when they came in. She lives half a block down. I’ve heard you talk about her. I also know you’re too hard on yourself and wouldn’t have talked to her.”
“Logan,” Grandfather Dominic said. “You have more to learn about the community you live in than you know.”
“That young lady is a start,” Grandmother Althea said. “Take it from a mother. Sometimes a son needs to have his eyes opened a little by a parent.”
“Yes, they do,” his father said, humbly. “Just as they need to keep in mind, not everyone is ready to accept someone equally linked to a bird of prey, a jaguar, and a human. Or another animal.” He glanced down the driveway at Michelle.
“Mom, I thought you had a panther in your family.” Logan’s shock of being known was wearing off. “I’ve never seen spots on you.”
“I have one. A ‘birthmark’ on my leg. Michelle recognized it in dance class for what it was. When she asked about it, without concern, I knew she could be accepting of a certain young man I know. Like not having a tail, I won’t miss a mopey teenager getting over whatever it is you have to get over.”
Logan looked to his father.
“Like your grandmother said. Sometimes it takes someone else to open your eyes. You have three generations who accept you for you. One of them was a stranger to you.”
“Was a stranger? I’ve never talked to her outside of class.”
“You have your chance to get to know her. You’ve always wanted to fit in. Now there’s someone you can talk to about getting in touch with your animal side.” Gregor looked at his son. “I almost let your mother get away. Don’t do that with Michelle.”
His mother tugged the shirt out of his hand and balled it up. She put it on against his bare torso and said, “She’s not a stranger to most of the neighborhood. Michelle’s a keeper. Don’t let her get away. Chimera or not, you have a life to live.”
“I will. Do me a favor first,” Logan said, looking at his father.
“Don’t burn dinner. I’m wanting something with no char on it,” Logan said.
“Now do your mother a favor,” his mother said. “Set the table for five. Your grandparents are staying for dinner. I’ve got some cooking you can help to finish.”
“If I’d known, I’d have gotten the squirrel, too.” Logan chuckled.
“Glad to see you’re out of your funk. Now go in and wash your paws. I don’t want to see feathers at the table,” Grandmother Althea said.
J.C. works and lives in Wisconsin. He has a beautiful wife and two active boys. He enjoys spending time with family, reading, and, time permitting, writing. Haunted and spooky places have always intrigued him.