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Coming of Age Fiction

If Delbert—George Davis D 5/17/22

  Delbert Montague would have been 100 years-old last Thursday, had he lived. Delbert died at the age of 4 during the Influencer of 1918. Simply put, Delbert would have been a genius. At four he had read Gone With The Wind, could count to 1000, and was the first human, at his age, to master the art of Kick Boxing. When he was one year old. He kicked out the sides of his crib and escaped. He got as far as the front lawn before his mother scooped him up in her arms and returned him to his room, where she cuddled him until he fell asleep again. 

  The family came to rely on Delbert’s weather warnings. His right knee would ache when a storm was coming, and his father would batten down the hatches; his word. “Let the storm come.” His father would shout. We’re prepared for anything, including a hurricane. 

 Delbert was a born leader. He lead the family in devotions every morning. I believe he would have been the youngest preacher on record had he lived. He had acquired more knowledge about everything than I have in my sixty-five years for so young a person. He had unprecedented insight into the world of science and math. His mind was a virtual sponge, a glob of pre-programmed knowledge unknown to anyone outside our family. He was incredibly fantastic. I loved my little brother to pieces, and I miss him so much.  Truth be known, he, at age four, helped me with my freshman algebra and English. 

By some unknown hand. I have lived well beyond the eighty-year life span of any human. I am now, 120 years old. And as one would reason. I am not as swift of feet as I once was those many years ago. My mother and father died in their 100’s. I come from good stock. 

  If Delbert had only lived to see all his siblings reach the century mark. He would have had some profound aphorism to expound. He had a way with words. In the last year of his too-short life, he set out to memorize Webster’s dictionary. He did get as far as death. How coincidental. Delbert died having commenced the Ds. 

  If Delbert had lived. He undoubtedly would have become a scientist of sorts. His math skills far exceeded those of the 20th-century brains like Einstein. In our family, Delbert was the brainy one. Though I was an A student, on the Honor Roll all four years of high school, and on the Dean’s list the years, I was in college. I could not hold a candle to my little brother, Delbert. His body may have been small, but his brain must have filled his entire cranium. 

  If Delbert could only see me now. What would he think? With all my education. I am a clerk in Stan Thompson’s Drugstore. I make less than $400 a week, and that’s when I work a full week. If I’m out sick. I do not get paid for time off. Oh, it’s not that Stan is a miser or anything. He is struggling to make a living with all the national drug companies popping up all over the place. We’ve got a CVS and a Walgreens within walking distance of Stan’s store.

  I barely remember when little Delbert was born. I was only six. He was a small baby, only weighing one-pound-four ounces. His brain was working from the day he arrived, but his body growth took a little more time; six months to be exact. He walked at nine months, and ate solid food at ten months. His great creative powers begin to develop when he was one years old. He would say things like, ‘come on, cooperate’ when he fumbled something. ‘I must be an idiot when he was eighteen months, and ‘well, is that all we have to eat in this house. I’m hungry.’ 

  When Delbert was three, he sneaked out of the house, and my father caught him down on the sidewalk shooting craps with the neighborhood ruffians who, by the way, loved my little brother. We didn’t discover how much he’d won with the dice until my mother came into the kitchen one morning, a deep scowl on her leathery face. We’re part Native American. “I’m missing two dollars out of my rent money. Delbert, have you been gambling again?” 

  “Yes, Mother, and here're the two dollars, I owe you, and an extra five. I won big yesterday.” 

  “Oh, Delbert. What can I do with you?” 

  “Buy me a pair of loaded dice so I can make more money, Mom.” 

  “That was a rhetorical question, Delbert. I don’t want you gambling. It can be very addictive.” 

  “I know that. I haven’t lost yet.” He emptied his pockets on the kitchen table. There was more money than I had ever seen. Dad counted it, $200, and change. 

  “Ethel,” my father said, don’t be so harsh on little Delbert. If he keeps winning he could become the family bread-winner.” 

  “A three-year-old should not have to support our family. You are supposed to be the earner. I realize you don’t make that much money working for old man Kennedy in his used furniture store. He barely makes enough for himself. He hasn’t given you a raise in twelve years.” 

  “I know it, but he promised to leave the store to me when he departs from this world.” 

  “Whoopee. Another burden.” 

  If Delbert were alive. He’d know how I could be in the six-figure bracket instead of the four-figure group. Poor Delbert. He passed this life too early. I sometimes wonder why he had to be the one to die so young. Then I think. If it wasn’t Delbert. It would be me. Then I reason. Thank you, God. I hope you and Delbert have a nice day up there. You’ve earned it.  How about that brother of mine. He’s probably debating the angels. 

Maybe a quote from Henry A. Dobson is an appropriate ending to this tale. 

“Time goes, you say? Ah, no! Alas, time stays, we go.” 

May 17, 2022 15:09

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