Howdy. My name’s JD Ferguson. Pleased to meet you.

I was born a poor white child in Des Moines, Iowa back when cars the size of apartments roamed the earth, telephones were nailed to the wall, and people sent Christmas cards to each other. My parents realized early on that I wasn’t normal even by our family standards. I was labeled precocious, a little old man, and a tender spirit early on. What they didn’t realize at first was that I was chasing women the whole time. I even tried hitting on the nurse that swaddled me as I slipped from my mama’s womb. She had big hair and blue eyes. I was powerless. I couldn’t control myself if I wanted, and I sure as hell didn’t want to.

Except for the doctor who insisted I spend some time in an incubator, I liked people. I became addicted to meeting new ones, and I quickly realized there were two types of people: a) men who didn’t seem to give a damn that they were privileged to hold me, and b) women who seemed to love holding me and didn’t want to give me back to my parents. I became a flaming heterosexual.

Ma and Pa beamed with pride every time they showed me off to someone new. I was convinced from the start that I was the center of the Universe, the most important being to ever land on Earth, and I basked in my awesomeness. I hated to sleep, fearing I would miss meeting a new woman, so I fought it off valiantly. My fatigued parents realized that car rides would put me to sleep. They would load me up in our Buick Roadmaster and drive around Des Moines to send me into slumber. It worked because I wanted to get a nap in before meeting the next woman, but the instant Pa put that gear shift into PARK my eyes would open and I was ready to carpe diem. Or let a woman carpe me. My sleeping patterns drove my parents to the brink of insanity. I remember one time Ma looking at me through red eyes brimming with tears and saying “you will never get a baby brother if you don’t let us go to bed!” I didn’t know what that meant, and I couldn’t understand why they wanted me to have a baby brother anyway. I was cockblocking Pa without even knowing it.

I learned early on that an effective means to woo womenfolk was to show off. My first trick was to smile while a woman changed my diaper. They always smiled back and talked to me. Even the goo goo baby talk was tolerable because they were removing my pants. I still can’t get enough of that pants removal thing. And when a woman rubs your goodies with a warm washcloth? Oh. My. God. I didn’t realize how much I missed it until years after I was potty trained. A lover came out of the bathroom and wiped me down while I watched her eyes and sucked my thumb. When she was finished, I got out of bed and made her an omelette in the predawn hours. I asked her to marry me before she finished her breakfast. Pay attention, ladies: if you can’t get that man to commit to marriage, throw him down on the nearest horizontal surface, ride him like he’s a mechanical bull, and clean him up with a warm washcloth. Don’t worry about the mess. Sex is sloppy only when performed correctly.

I learned to walk, which was valuable because I could chase women, but Ma turned out to be a cockblocker herself. Every time I would see a woman in the grocery store and take off on a dead run to meet her, Ma would catch up with me and reign me in. Every woman that noticed my efforts would give me a huge smile that only women have, but I couldn’t seem to connect with new ones unless Ma allowed it. Still, I felt like the whole world, and every woman in it, was my oyster.

And then Bob showed up.

My brother Bob was born not long after I learned to walk, it seems, and I became acutely aware that I now had competition finding a soulmate. That little turd Bob had a full head of curly hair and dimples, and the same women that enjoyed removing my diaper now enjoyed removing Bob’s. I’m a jealous old sumbitch, and I was a jealous young one too, so Bob had to go. I loved him like a brother but he was cockblocking me too. My first project management task was to remove Bob from the face of earth by hook or by crook.

My first attempt was a trick I was sure would work: I shaved his head. I didn’t much care for the way women talked about his curly locks anyway, and my own head of hair had the worst case of bed head west of the Mississippi. Bob would get up from his nap and look like he just left the barber. I couldn’t wear a wool stocking cap or walk near overhead power lines without my hair morphing into something so misshapen even the Elephant Man felt sorry for me.

I made a game out of shaving Bob’s head by telling him I had a big surprise for him when it was over. I didn’t tell him the big surprise was Ma and Pa would give him away or take him to the Animal Rescue League when they took a look at his new hairdo. As it turned out, it was more of a hair don’t.

Ma walked into the bathroom without knocking. That right there was an offense that Pa would’ve sent us to bed early for. I was just about to protest when Ma complimented me on my barber skills.

“JD Ferguson! What in the hell have you done! And where did you get that straight razor?”

“I got–”

“I don’t care where you got it! You could have slit Bob’s throat!”

That was an option I hadn’t considered. I filed throat-slitting away in my bag of future tricks, and began honing my new skill: competition for women.

My next trick was to make my parents forget Bob while we were visiting our grandparents. My thinking was that if I could enamor them with a story while we were getting ready to leave they would forget all about Bob. Our grandparents would have a permanent house guest, and I’d have pick of the litter of women again. That one didn’t work worth a damn either. Ma, Pa, and my grandparents had great herding instincts, and Bob ended up back at home with us. I loved the little maggot but he was annoying me with his “I’m just as cute as JD” antics. I came to the conclusion that if Bob wasn’t leaving then I had to leave.

After Thanksgiving dinner at my grandparents’ house, I patiently waited while everyone slipped into a trytophan coma, filled my pockets with table scraps, and snuck outside to the most isolated spot on Earth: the cellar. My grandparents lived in an ancient farmhouse in southern Iowa, had a garden bigger than most suburban home lots, and canned vegetables by the ton. The cellar was where the canned goods were kept, and it didn’t have an access door from the inside of the house. To get into the cellar you had to lift a gigantic door that laid nearly flat against the ground. I could barely lift it until a west wind helped me. I descended the steps carefully while watching for signs of the boogeyman. I would soon learn that the boogeyman was upstairs in the living room.

I made a makeshift chair with some empty buckets and boards, leaned back against the wall, and listened for the sound of the Buick leaving the driveway. What I heard through the floorboards instead were the panicked cries of Ma and my grandma searching for me. My undeveloped logic told me they would calm down and I could emerge from the cellar after hearing my parents and Bob head for home in the Buick, but the exact opposite happened. Everyone freaked the fuck out.

The flock of family feet above me sounded like a shoe sale at Macy’s on Black Friday. Doors slammed. Cabinets opened and closed. Even the refrigerator was inspected. I could hear Pa and my grandpa make muffled plans to search outside, and I knew my Christmas goose was cooked before Thanksgiving was over. I listened as they stomped out the front door and yelled my name, but I didn’t see any sense in hurrying the inevitable. Those two could have found the Lindbergh baby if he was kin.

“Cellar door’s open,” I heard Pa say.

“Shouldn’t be,” Grandpa replied.

In less than ten seconds I met Pissed Off Pa and Pissed Off Grandpa for the first time. Even their faces looked like strangers. Both men could move in a hurry, let me tell you. Pa reached me first, balled the front of my jacket up in his hand, and yanked me from my makeshift throne. With a mixture of fear and anger he whacked my ass one time with his other hand. It didn’t hurt physically but the humiliation brought tears to my eyes.

“Don’t you ever do that to us again!”

“Yes sir,” I blubbered.

I didn’t, either. I learned my lesson by witnessing the havoc I created. Pa and Grandpa seemed relieved that they found me. Ma and Grandma practically suffocated me with hugs and kisses. I love a nice set of boobs during a hug but those two were pushing the limit.

I thought about running away from time to time when I didn’t get my way but never repeated that stunt. If I couldn’t run Bob off I would have to make him understand I was the boss and got the pick of the litter where available women were concerned.

That didn’t work out so well either.

Sneak peek of Chapter 2 – Mirth Defects