Dear all you insane children,
I think we’ve gotten off on the wrong foot (itself sort of funny; since I only have one, you might think that would make getting off on the wrong one more or less impossible–but these are just metaphors). Anyway, I can’t say it thrilled me when your parents died and left you in my care. Living paycheck to paycheck as I am, buying five used twin beds really tapped me out. I had to borrow against my wages for your morning gruel, nasty as it is, so please stop throwing it at the wall with such disgust. Sorry you find it difficult adjusting to my drafty shack and the nocturnal fumes rising off the bog. I’m sure we’d all rather be living in your parents’ mansion, but that’s been sold, the proceeds locked in a trust until you come of age, in order to safeguard a brighter future for yourselves.
Mind you, my future will likely be just as grim as my present and my past. I’m sure it’s no shock to you that my life was a sad story before I inherited five fussy children. Time was, I was one of the best wide receivers in the university. Had a beautiful girlfriend, too–a cheerleader! Then I shocked everyone, developed a rare form of diabetes that resulted in my having to have my leg amputated. So I lost a leg, a girlfriend, and a sweet future. Took a job as a custodian at the college where I used to be a star, started drinking a lot and avoiding everyone I used to know. Developed a staph infection, and bam! Get this hideous wart on my face! Life’s just awesome. I’m lucky I’m not a hunchback.
But, horrible as my life was, at least I didn’t have to worry about someone putting gasoline in my liquor bottles, or stirring laxatives and pureed ghost peppers into my milk. That I’ve sobered up lately is a good thing; that I’m about to get fired from my job because of all the stomach problems I’ve had is a bit less stellar.
But lately, my dear children, you’ve really taken it up a notch. I don’t know who gave you those asps you put in my bed, or how you managed to find the time to build that contraption of spikes that almost impaled me when I ran out to put out the fire you set in the garden, but you must know that the emergency room bill for the snake bites means it’s going to get even leaner around here. Plus, those tomatoes were really coming in nice. Thanks for ruining those, too.
It really is a shame. I like you all–even Janet, who seems to be quite a talented artist. I really enjoyed her painting of the castle before she set off the explosives hidden behind the canvas and blew half my face and all my hair off. It was truly the last great thing I saw with both my eyes, even if it did cost me one of them (just dumb luck the flames managed to miss the wart on my nose). Regardless, I hope she keeps going with her art.
As for the twins, Hector and Helen–you’re always good with a joke, even if it is at my expense. Such biting wit! I’m sure these mental wounds will heal in time, but a sense of humor is forever.
Little Susan, I wish you’d talk more. Sometimes in your sullen glower, I see a hint of understanding. Out of all your siblings, you seem the wisest.
And Jack, the oldest and fiercest–you are arrogant, to be sure, but that kind of confidence will take you places, even if all you choose to do with it is wield dangerous weapons. Take it from a former athlete, you’re a natural. The way you swung that mace at me yesterday made me reflect on what a great baseball player you’ll make someday.
Just, please, stop trying to kill me. I hope this letter helps you understand: I want the best for you. I hope — oh damn, here Jack comes with a shotgun pointed at me. This looks grim. Might be time to put down the pen.
If you should find this note soaked in blood under my body, just know — I tried, but maybe you really will be better in an orphanage.