Thirteen

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Dave Connor did not know what to do with himself. He had returned straight home after his encounter with Princess and Fripperone, and didn't stir from his couch the rest of that night or even for a moment the following day. He did nothing, thought nothing, felt nothing; it was as if his mind had gone completely blank. The shock of a single idea had gripped him, and blocked all other sensations. The idea had presented itself to him before, but he had never quite accepted it. He had been somebody. He had been someone that other people knew and recognized and remembered. Uncle Ray of course had known him. He had acknowledged this fact but treated it as no more than a story in a magazine. Clayton had known of him, as if he had read that story. To Dave that former life was barely even a shadow. It was less real to him than a planet in a far off galaxy, but now it had come right to him, stood there in front of him, and demanded an answer. Are you or are you not who you are? Who you were?

He waited until Ray had settled himself down in his favorite old chair for the evening before he came upstairs and sat nearby. Ray was used to this brief encounter, as it had become routine in the past two weeks. He would have his supper, put away his dishes, and take his seat. Then Dave would trudge up the stairs and sit, for a few minutes, before venturing outside. Sometimes Dave would have a word or two to say, but usually not. This night he lingered longer than usual, long enough for Ray to notice the difference. He put down his own magazine and turned to Dave.

"Going to work tonight?", he asked. Dave shook his head.

"I wish I had money", Dave said. "I would give it to you."

"That's a nice thought", Ray replied. "Maybe you will get some if you wind up working for that lady for real."

"I don't think so," Dave sighed. Ray did not ask further. After another long interlude of silence, Dave spoke up again.

"Who was I?", he blurted out.

"Who were you?", Ray said. "I thought you knew that. You're my nephew, Dave Connor. Is something the matter? Have you forgotten?"

"I never knew", he murmured. "I knew but I didn't know. I didn't think. I knew my name. I know my name, but who I was, I don’t know. What was my life? What was I like?"

Ray took some time to think about his answer. It seemed important all of a sudden. Ray had wondered why Dave had never asked before. Now he realized it simply hadn't occurred to him, hadn't meant anything to him. He was not, in fact, Dave Connor. He was somebody else, but he wasn't even some body else, he was something else entirely, and it was awkward for him, almost impossible, like a dog that had turned into a horse and was trying to bark.

"The Dave you were", Ray told him, "Was not the Dave you are now. I can tell you that much. That Dave, well, he was a piece of work. A nice little boy all right. Very quiet, very polite. You remind me of the little Davey, up until around ten or so. That's when your mother got sick. And then your dad. You changed completely after that. By the time you were, oh, maybe fourteen, it was a different Davey Connor. Unhappy, surly, even mean sometimes. You didn't do anything for your parents, you know. Didn't try to help. Wouldn't lift a finger as they got weaker, and sicker, and finally passed on. You took off on your own, ran around with your friends. Your mom and dad worried about you all the time. Asked me what to do, as if I could tell them anything. I never had a kid. Heck, I was more like you when I was that age. Left home in my teens and never looked back. I could understand that, but I couldn't help."

He paused to see what effect his little talk was having on his nephew, but Dave had no expression on his face. He was listening intently, but not really hearing. He couldn't absorb this data, make it his own. It was just another human interest story. Ray continued.

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