It was a Thursday. The next-door neighbor's bitch had a litter of four who were old enough to leave their mother. My mother, meanwhile, had had a cow; I was painting on the wall again. What's wrong with painting on the wall? It's a big white expanse of blankness, practically begging for a splash of colour. Any ten-year-old could tell that.

I had gotten out my watercolours and some tumblers for water; I'm immaculate, even when watercolouring. I always have a separate container for the black paint because it does horrid things to the other colours.
I won't go into the masterpiece I created that day, though it's imprinted on my mind like the image of a car fender disappearing over a cliff would be for someone whose family had died because he'd forgotten to set the parking brake. The important thing is, when my mother opened the front door holding two cocker spaniel puppies, I was standing back from the wall admiring my work.

She exploded.
"What is _THAT_??" I attempted, unsuccessfully, to answer.
"I spend all my time cleaning up after you -- I just got you two puppies! -- and this is the thanks I get?"
She fled back outside to the garage, where I heard squealing tires moments later as the car sped off, heading downtown. Hours passed, during which time I added a few touches to the wall and began on her wedding portrait. Dad had been overseas for a couple of months, working on a big contract of some sort -- I pictured him seated at a low table, his thinning salt-and-pepper hair grown long in a que, an Asian miss bending over him to offer tea in a tiny cup with a fortune cookie on the side. A misconception for the ten-year-old mind.

When she returned home, she was trembling slightly. (Little kids pick up on stuff like that, y'know.) "I'm sorry, Benny," she said. "But I've legally adopted these puppies and disowned you. I just can't deal with your behavior anymore, but the puppies... they're cute, they don't paint on the wall, and I can kick them without lasting psychological effects." In the crook of her arm, the puppies sneered at me, then laughed.

I left the house that night, struck up a friendship with a guy who lived under a bridge and called himself Trainwreck, and never looked back.

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