"That can't be my Walter's boy!"
Well, I'd hardly been out of the womb more than three minutes when my paternal grandmother uttered those words, which were destined to ring out like some thematic groundbass accompanying my long day's journey into night, into that very night from which I had so recently emerged. Thus it was the stage was set, in an instant, for this long unfolding all too common domestic drama.
Of my first two years I have little recollection, stray sounds which pleased, bird song, trainwhistle, but have it on hearsay that I cried incessantly during all that time, both day and night, and only a certain kind of music would shut me up.
This wonderment at our paternity which seems to haunt the human race, and which is the source of so much passion, and so much pain, which yet occupies our minds so very little once we have settled in, settled into the necessary little certainties which we and the world demand for the continuation of what we call a life, this puzzlement, so useless yet so primal, must be put aside for a host of reasons-the chief of which is simply that life must go on, filling its belly with the food of distraction, even unto the very end and final moment while the question remains for ever unanswered, assuredly unanswerable, while gradually diminishing its hold upon our minds...
...and yes, it was all of it, warp and weft, wrapped in mystery. Nothing was known. No one was known. No one knew the answer to the question "Who was the father?" They will tell you that the mother knew, yet often it is the mother who had been the very one most absent at the moment of conception. There had been this cloud, this mist, this universal unknowing. Who had crawled or clammered into her tent? Who knew? No face emerged, and when it did it was the face of the universal mystery. The people of Ward Street might as well have been so many shadow puppets whose names you might have known and nothing more. Who were they? Who? Behind those names?
Gentle reader! - Shall I call you that? - Yes, it seems I have done so, so let it be. Gentle reader, then, here are their names, in no particular order -
,,,to be continued...