Returning home, p.1

Returning Home, page 1


Returning Home

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Returning Home

  Returning Home

  A Novel by

  Mary Carmen

  This novel is a work of fiction. The characters and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance of the characters to actual persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

  © 2004 by Mary Carmen. All rights reserved.

  ISBN: 978-14107089358 (Soft Cover)

  ISBN: 978-1410789341 (Dust Jacket)

  Library of Congress Control Number: 2003099829

  July 26, 2125

  To Whom It May Concern:

  This is the story of my life. I have written this especially for my children, but they should feel free to allow others to read it.

  Anthony F. Waltrop

  Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

  Reorganized States of America

  Introduction and Early Days

  My name is Tony. I am an old man, now eighty-five. My Octula children have asked me to create an autobiography that tells of my travels and my loves.

  Today my mind is clear and my memory is excellent.

  Here is the way things work: God is essentially a computer. God’s central processing unit, or CPU, turns Its attention to one program at a time, processes an instruction, and then turns Its attention to another program. You are a program. I am a program. Everybody else is a program. Every rock, tree, and bird is a program. When the CPU is turned toward something else, you are dormant. You do not exist at that time.

  Like a program running on any other computer, you do not realize anything else is happening when the CPU is not turning Its attention toward you. You think you alone receive the attentions of the CPU. For this reason, you do not realize every other entity is part of you and you are part of every other entity. But, it is true.

  My story starts long before I realized I was just a part of God. It starts when I thought I was all there was, on the planet Earth, in a fairly small town in what was then the United States of America.

  I was born in New Kensington, Pennsylvania, in the year 2040. My parents were managers in a great factory that produced pots and pans for professional chefs. Many chefs would use nothing else, so the pay was good and the opportunities for finding other work, perhaps more interesting work, were poor.

  I was an accident, something that did not happen very often in those days. My parents were not married and really did not want to marry. When my mother’s family found out I was on the way, a marriage was quickly arranged. Money changed hands.

  Right after my birth my mother went back to her work in the factory as a Senior Sales Engineer. My father, the factory’s Chief Financial Officer, passed out cigars and then forgot about me. My grandmother ran an advertisement for a nanny and was happy when four students from Chatham College applied. Grandma hired three of them, gave them rooms over her large garage, and planned their schedules. They attended classes, ate meals with the family, and, when time allowed, took care of me.

  When I was two, my grandmother took me to be evaluated, as was the custom in those days. My grandmother found out I would be a great genius, a fact she attributed to her own participation in my genes. Research later proved the accuracy of that; intelligence is inherited from the female parent. If you want a smart kind, find your kid’s mother at a chess tournament.

  Remember my parents? They had checked out of my life. They came and went, ate dinner with the family and all those college students, and never paid any mind to the child they had deposited at my grandmother’s doorstep.

  Not so with my grandparents. They had bought me and they wanted me. They spent nearly every spare moment with me, teaching me about arithmetic and spelling and showing me how to tie my shoelaces. By the time I was three, my grandparents were entertaining their friends by demonstrating my facility with arithmetic. I was quite a draw.

  The money my mother should have inherited was spent on my education. My grandparents investigated private schools and entered me in the best that would have me. When I was five, my grandparents moved their home to be close to my school in Wilkinsburg. When I was twelve, they moved again to be close to my school in Pittsburgh. When I was fifteen, they died together in a terrible bus accident on the very day Jack Olsen returned from his trip to the fifth planet orbiting Eta Boötes, leaving all their money in trust for my education except for one dollar to each of my parents. What remained in my trust fund was a considerable sum.

  The year after the bus accident was a time of stress. My mother wanted more of the money her parents had left, and she sued to get it. The courts would not break the will, and my mother said adieu to me. She and I had said a final adieu to my father a year before, when my grandparents’ attorney gave him his inheritance.

  So, at sixteen, I was alone. The court appointed a guardian, a busybody social worker, to oversee my education. Luckily, she had over one hundred other clients and was unable to find the time to ruin my life. I lived alone in my grandparents’ house and continued with my studies.

  College Days

  At eighteen I enrolled at Princeton University in Bradford, Pennsylvania, to study economics and literature. It was a curious pair of majors, but I was very happy there. The social worker was gone and I was drawing a nice allowance that paid for my tuition and a lot more. I bought books, I remodeled my grandparents’ home, and I traveled to Europe as often as my time would allow.

  Your life can be considered as a film with frames. Each frame shows a tiny bit of action. When you hold up such a film to the light, you see the individual frames but you do not notice these when the film is correctly projected onto the screen. In your life, the spaces between the individual frames are very large. This is when God is turning Its attention to other entities.

  Your life appears to you as one continuous showing of the film. The truth is that each instant is separated by eons of time. Your life, then, lasts forever. You think it is short, but you are seeing only the frames and not the interframe gaps.

  I spent five years finishing my work at Princeton, graduating with a bachelor’s degree and my sanity intact. I completed my work with a fairly good grade point average but not the grade point average of a genius. My advisor continually harped on my lack of dedication to my studies, but my grades, such as they were, allowed me to be accepted into the master’s program for business administration at the University of Pennsylvania for the following year.

  My two years as a student in Philadelphia were more difficult. I no longer could just skim the books in order to pass examinations. I had to attend classes and participate in class discussions and projects. I did not flunk out that first year, but I certainly did not exhibit any of a genius’s potential.

  The two years in Philadelphia were important because I met and married Maude there. She was also a graduate student in the business school, but she was one of the program’s superstars. I was attracted to her because of her fine mind and her enormous energy. She was attracted to me because of my aloof manner and my very tall, slim frame.

  “Tony,” Maude said, “you act as if you don’t give a damn, but everybody sees through you. Why can’t you just relax and let us admire you for the man you are?”

  “Sweetheart,” I replied, “only you are smart enough to see through my mask. These others are so self-absorbed they don’t examine the actions of their classmates. I am what I am because of all that I have been before.”

  Maude was silent for a few minutes. Then she said, “What you have been before is of no importance. You need to concentrate on what you will become.”

  Of course Maude was right about that. My inheritance was somewhat depleted by that time, and I needed to buckle down and try to make the most of the future.

  Maude, on the other hand, had no money in her past and very little in her present. She had attended Bryn Ma
wr on a full scholarship and was working two part-time jobs to make ends meet at Penn.

  “Maude, if you will marry me, I will pay your tuition and living expenses for the second year of the program,” I offered.

  “I’m doing okay,” Maude replied.

  “With enough time to devote to your studies, you could graduate at the top of this class,” I countered. “That is what I offer.”

  “And after that?”

  “And after that, we will see what happens,” I gallantly said.

  We were married in a small church near the Bryn Mawr campus on Saturday, June 28, 2064, after our first year at Penn. During the brief ceremony, Maude’s mother bawled like a baby. This was the only time in my life I regretted my separation from my parents. Maude’s poor but loving parents did not fully appreciate the wonderful gesture I was making and commended several times on the peculiar man their daughter had selected.

  We honeymooned in Vienna, touring old churches and attending the opera. We talked the room clerk into giving us a French bed, and we spent our mornings there together. Maude was always the aggressor in our sex life, that month and afterward.

  We returned to Philadelphia in August. I found a large furnished apartment within a few blocks of the campus, and I hired a cook and a housekeeper to come in every day. I paid our tuition for the final year. I had, at that point, enough money in my trust fund to live for three more years.

  Feel. Feel is the important word. God wants to feel various experiences, and God has chosen you to represent It in the universe so you can help It know what these various experiences feel like. Forget see and hear. God can see and hear without your help.

  How does it feel to be a mass murderer? God asked Attila the Hun, Adolph Hitler, Napoleon, and others to live this experience so It could experience the feelings of a mass murderer.

  How does it feel to be a genius with too much ambition? How does it feel to be a genius with no ambition? God experienced these feelings with Maude and me.

  We lived very well that second year at Penn. We were comfortably housed, we ate excellent meals, and we spent nearly all our time studying.

  Maude finished at the top of the class, but I had the best grades for the two semesters of the second year. When the two years were taken together, I graduated in the top ten percent of the class of sixty students.

  Commencement was on Sunday, June 14, 2065. Maude’s parents were there, looking on while we received our diplomas, but they still treated me as if I were a foundling with no legitimate claim to their daughter. They made a big fuss about the phrase summa cum laude on Maude’s diploma, so they surely did not overlook the magna cum laude on mine.

  Why did I do so well that second year? It was a combination of hard work and success by association. Just as it is true that a man with a distinguished wife is given the benefit of the doubt by his employers and his creditors, so it is true that a man married to the top student in the class is given favorable treatment when his grades are decided upon. I had received excellent value for my money.

  First Job

  After the graduation celebrations ended, Maude and I talked about the future.

  “I own a house in Pittsburgh, as you know,” I said. “The tenants’ lease is due for renewal in September, and I would like to go to Pittsburgh to find work. If you like Pittsburgh, we can stay in my house. If you don’t like Pittsburgh, we can separate now.”

  “I have four offers,” Maude said. “One is from Westinghouse in Pittsburgh, and I will accept that. We shall see what the next year brings.”

  The summer months were busy. We went to London for two weeks to go to the theater, and on our return we took rooms at a small residence hotel near my house in Pittsburgh. I started to look for work and accepted a fairly good offer from a think tank housed in the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning. I was an economist! Imagine that!

  Maude’s job was much more interesting. She ran a project to develop plans for a luxury interplanetary passenger craft. The craft was scheduled to make a voyage in 2078 to Venus and one in 2079 to Saturn. Maude’s project to develop the plans was scheduled for completion in 2070.

  The two jobs together paid enough that we were able to live well. I owned the house free and clear because I had made the final mortgage payment while I was at Princeton, thanks to some very desirable tenants. Maude’s job paid almost double my salary, and I encouraged her to save what she could. She wanted to send money to her parents, and I believe she did this, over my objections.

  In September 2065, we moved into my grandparents’ Pittsburgh home. It was much too grand for young people just out of college, but it was paid for and I loved it. I gave Maude the large master bedroom with the whirlpool tub, and I took a smaller room with an adjoining steam machine. I hired a full-time cook and a part-time housekeeper, using my salary and part of my trust fund to pay them.

  I was very happy that first year back in Pittsburgh, almost as happy as I had been at Princeton. Maude and I were careful to give each other a combination of privacy and companionship, and we settled down to a comfortable life.

  It is of no use your begging things of God. “Please let me have enough money to pay the rent,” you say over and over. This is not an issue God will change Its mind about. God has already made a plan for your sojourn in the universe and It insists you follow that plan. God, perhaps, wants to feel the anxiety of wondering if the landlord will toss you out onto the street. Or, perhaps, God wants to feel the relief when you receive some windfall money that can cover the rent. Your job is to work to find the rent money, and God’s job is to feel your anxiety and your relief.

  Prayers that petition God are a waste of time. They are based upon the assumption God does not know Its own business.

  Prayers of thanksgiving are also a waste of time. They assume God is a vain entity who wants the praise of Its own representatives in the universe.

  The only prayer worth your time is to ask for the grace to cheerfully handle your assignment from God. This prayer will not change God’s mind. It will change only yours.

  Kenny Arrives

  Maude and I lived very well in Pittsburgh for several years. I was happy with my home, and Maude was happy with her work. In January of 2069, things changed.

  “I am expecting a child,” Maude told me. “We will be parents before September. I hope you are happy about this, Tony.”

  I was stunned. We had never discussed having children and I certainly would have asked for a divorce before I would have agreed to have a child. Perhaps Maude knew this.

  “How has this happened?” I demanded.

  “No birth control method is entirely effective, even today,” Maude replied. “Our number was up, Tony.”

  “Will you have an abortion?” I asked.

  “Never! I will not kill my own child!”

  “I certainly believe,” I said, in a voice that was much calmer than my emotions, “I should have been consulted about this decision.”

  “I’m doing okay,” she said. “I can handle this by myself.”

  We agreed to stay together in my house, at least until the child was born.

  Those months before Kenneth arrived were very unhappy for me. During that time I was not even certain the child was mine, and I did not like the idea my peaceful life would be disturbed. My work at the think tank was quite boring, and to have my home life altered in this significant way was just more than I cared to contemplate.

  What made the entire business completely unacceptable was that Kenneth turned out to look so much like that bastard who had been my own father. To see my father’s face every day in my own house caused those old feelings of anger and abandonment to resurface.

  Poor Kenneth! I know now I was a terrible father, perhaps even worse than my own. Kenny was such a good baby, and I was in so much of an uproar I ignored him.

  We were lucky, though, in that Maude’s salary had increased significantly. We added a suite for me onto the back of the house, and Maude
and Kenny and the nurses and the nannies and the governesses and the cook and the housekeeper kept to the main house. Maude continued to work at Westinghouse and was given a big promotion when the plans for the spacecraft were delivered to the contractor in late 2070.

  My trust fund was entirely gone by the time Kenny was born. I took out a loan to build my suite, and I reduced my expenditures by canceling my planned trip to Italy for the summer of 2070. When the think tank reduced its staff after losing a government contract in early 2071, I agreed to take a ten-percent pay cut to keep my job.

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