THE LIVING LIFE OF JULIUS COCKERDICK
Michael A. Wolf
As I am the narrator of my own story, it is immediately clear that I am impoverished. I was born in the hamlet of Twicklam in the county of Flankshire; the son of Morris, a candle-taster, and Merwhinnia, a scullery lid. My first years were happy ones, filled with smoke and fog and quiet rains that would pour torrentially for weeks on end. On the days that we could venture outside, I would find myself the constant companion of our giant wolfhound, Hiram, a beast of a thing whose wand'rings took us far from the ramshackle cottage we called home. Tied securely to the dog, I would experience the countryside at its most fragrant. As Hiram wended his way through the thicket, I was subject to burr lashings and thistle wounds that made my legs most useless for a good portion of my youth. But it was there, as canine cargo, that I was to develop my love for nature, and decide that my life would be devoted to botany.
But it was not to be. On the occasion of my ninth birthday, father had taken the liberty to hire a rather terrifying clown to perform a series of unnatural stunts at my party. While most of the children fled in horror, I sat transfixed and smiled weakly at the blanche-faced harlequin, whose name, I learned, was Zebulon. I told the clown of my love for flowers and plants, and he stared at the caraway cake I held.
"Would you like some?" I asked; and before another tick passed, he'd taken the treat from my hand and stuffed it in his colorful jumper.
"Your father sold you to us." He said, in a lilting tone. "You're circus people now." Then he somersaulted backward into our cesspool as I began to weep.
The next morning, I was packed away with some stale bread, a large piece of havermunchen cheese and lashed to the side of a mule. As Zebulon held the reins of the braying creature, we left Twicklam for the next leg of my life's journey.
END OF CHAPTER ONE