Mr. Quinn had grown up in small-town Pennsylvania. His father was a coal-miner and worked hard all day. After their shift he and the boys went to the local watering hole before heading home. Three times out of four, Davy’s father came home to hear his weak wife complain about something Davy had done, while she nursed two other young children, Davy the oldest by five years. After a few shots of whiskey, Mr. Quinn Sr. hated to hear from his wife that Davy had been evil during the day. And as tired as the soot-faced man was, he took his belt to the boy and made him sleep in the toolshed.
Davy had done his Ph.D at Penn State in English after spending most of his youth reading classics and avoiding his father’s wrath. He had never married, was a philanderer. He presently dated the school nurse, Ms. Pillary, a tall, thin woman clear blue eyes and thin red lips. He lived alone with a Staffordshire Terrier, and spent most weekends upstate, sometimes with Ms. Pillary. He fished on Sundays.
You don’t even know that happened with certainty, do you? That stuff about his father beating him and keeping him in a shed, that was all bullshit wasn’t it?
No, of course not.
Well how do you know it happened?
I remember the way he looked, older Gabriel. That glimmer in his eye when I turned in that villanelle and no one else did, and he said keep it, and I asked if we’re going to get graded on it and he said no, but you didn’t do it for nothing, and he nodded slowly, with his big Staffordshire head convincing you that your efforts weren’t for naught. His gimlet eyes were enough to tell me some of his own pain. So whether or not his father was a coal miner or a printer doesn’t matter, but what does is how he influenced us. Without him you would probably wouldn’t be writing this right now.
Yeah, you’re probably right about that.
I know I am. Why do you always argue with me? You think that your youth was simply idealistic prattle, but it was the purest you’ve ever been, the most passionate about writing. All of the stuff you’re writing now is pablum compared to what you did when you were eighteen, nineteen.
But I was so young, inexperienced.
No one said you were Hemingway. But if you try to channel me a little more often, older self, you might actually find some readers. They will listen to you, through me. Why? Because I am your inner child. I am raw. I am not cultivated by society’s expectations. Listen to me! Don’t ignore me because you’ve grown wiser. I was wise, but inexperienced. Together we can be great. You need to recognize me.
Maybe you’re right. I have been taking a lot of criticism about the lack of passion in this book. We were so ubermenschian when we were younger.
I know. That’s what I’m trying to tell you. Once you hit twenty-five you became jaded and realistic.
Okay, you’re boring them. Get back to our story.