Now the story gets funny. I become a licensed geneticist. It’s a very prestigious job and it gets me a very prestigious trophy wife. Trophy wives always do one of two things: they divorce you, or they kill you. Obviously she divorced me. I didn’t take it too hard.
Marriage is a contract. Her part of the contract was to look stunning at mixers, go jogging every morning for my neighbors to covet, and have occasional, disinterested sex with me. My job was to make money and at some point give her half of it. I didn’t mind about the sex, I cheated on her openly and zealously. As an adulterer, I got what I deserved.
I didn’t have the talent to do much besides family pets. Certainly I couldn’t engineer livestock, or vaccines. I did some botanical modules. One of them garnered some acclaim for its artistry. I called it the “Ameliana.” Amelia for obvious reasons, Ana for my trophy wife. I don’t look back on Amelia any more wistfully than I do my ex-wife. They were both simply women I tried to love, but couldn’t.
The botanical made me a moderate amount of money. I semi-retired at a young age. I worked consulting occasionally and taught a course at community college on, ha-ha, bioethics.
Chuy had a bit less fortune. I know because he told me. He had a problem. He was probably the most brilliant – and, in one sense, accomplished – geneticist in history. But since he left school – failed out, in fact – he would never be able to work as one. Genetics as a field doesn’t look kindly on unreliability, because if it comes out screwed-up you have to kill it.
So Chuy took the little baby girl and he went to Listonia, a corrupt little backwater fragment of a remnant of what used to be the Soviet Union. Things were better there for him, if not particularly for the Listonians. In the U.S., when somebody asked about his little girl
s mother he had to make something up. Her mother died. Divorce. Jail. Whatever they would believe.
But if the people in the impoverished neighborhoods he lived in got suspicious he ran the risk of losing her, so he moved from place to place, enrolling her in the worst possible schools, where they asked the least possible amount of questions. This was important because he had a baby girl with no known mother or place of birth, and he was a drop-out from a genetic institute. Eventually someone would figure it out.
In Listonia, on the other hand, if someone asked where the girl’s mother was he would just shrug and say, “I bought her.” He could enroll her in the worst possible schools and they were almost as good as the best schools in the U.S. Nobody asked any questions as long as she memorized Listonian “history” and placed well in math competitions.
Chuy also worked very hard to learn to speak English properly, like everyone else in Listonia. He had to, because he ran a small business. He re-made little old ladys' beloved fu-fus for them. He got a fake license, but nobody in Listonia particularly cared if he had one or not. He was the only geneticist in the country who could make a cat that didn’t get cancer after a couple of months.
As for the baby “girl”, he named her Sasha. She went by Wahsa because she thought that was her name. Wahsa, not surprisingly, had an academic career similar to mine; distinguished, a tier just below the truly elite. She grew to be a fit 16-year old girl. The Listonian boys called her beautiful. She was a perfect feminine reflection of me. She was a disturbing and profane memento of what the God before Chuy and I could have made me.
So Chuy and I and Wahsa sat, happily unaware of each other, at opposite ends of the world.
The problem was that while my star was fading, Chuy’s was rising. The powers that be in Listonia figured out soon enough that they had someone interesting, someone useful.
Again, I know all this because Chuy told me. He came to my door one April morning and rang the doorbell. It had been so long I didn’t recognize him through the peephole, so I answered. And when I opened the door I still didn’t recognize him. He had the weight of middle-age around him. His carefree demeanor had finally run dry.
It was Wahsa I recognized.
“Chuy. Nice to see you after all these years. Leave now and I won’t call the cops.”
His speech sounded more choppy and guttural than it should, but he pronounced the words distinctly.
“I’ll tell them you helped.”
“What the hell, Chuy? You came here to blackmail me? My wife’s taking half already. I can’t afford it. Now go.”
I avoided looking at Wahsa, but she stood fixated on me. She still didn’t know. She couldn’t understand how I could look so much like her and not actually be her. I hoped she was as disgusted by me as I was by her.
Wahsa spoke confidently, like somebody used to being indulged.
“Father, I think I’m offending him, somehow. Let’s go.”
Chuy smiled affectionately. It was sickening, but it was then that I realized she was innocent. I felt pity for her, compassion; I felt a little dizzy.
“It’s not… you. It’s your father. He has to go now. Both of you.”
Reflexively I reached for my wallet and pulled out a few bills.
“Here. I don’t know what you’ve done Chuy, just get her out of here. I mean, get out of here.”
Wahsa looked close to tears. It broke my heart, then it pissed me off that it broke my heart. Which broke my heart. Chuy patted me on the back.
“I’m so sorry.”
Before I could shut the door he jabbed me with a shock stick.
I woke up an hour later, tied to a chair. Worst of all, Wahsa’s face stood mere inches from mine. I could feel her breathing on me. She didn’t even jump when I came to. She must have seen me stirring.
We were in my basement. Chuy busied himself with some sort of makeshift distillation equipment. It looked like he brought his lab with him. He even brought a parser.
“Chuy, you steamy pile of goose-shit. You came to make another?”
“No. I came to save your life.”
Wahsa looked at Chuy, consternation showing on her face.
“Make another what, father?”
I decided to press it, hopefully turn her against him. Chuy prepared a nasty-looking syringe and I wasn’t convinced it was the antidote to anything.
“You haven’t told her, Chuy? Listen young woman, haven’t you ever wondered who your mother was?”
She laughed at me, the little bitch.
“She died before I was born.”
I pressed on.
“I saw you looking at me. You know, don’t you? You don’t have a mother, you never did. But I was there on the night you were born. I can tell you what happened.”
She laughed again; not a scoffing laugh, she was delighted.
“What a strange game. I’m glad we’re saving him.”
With that she sashayed upstairs. She had to know. All I could think was, “what a strange game.”
“Chuy, did you know we even think alike?”
Chuy worked at his parser.
“Interesting. Her name is Sasha, but you should call her Wahsa.”
“Why did you do it? Why didn’t you tell me?”
Chuy seemed satisfied with his work at the parser. He took the syringe and drew some fluid into it. He knelt in front of me and spoke softly.
“Because you wouldn’t have let me.”
Chuy lovingly stuck the needle in my arm and continued.
“I wanted to become a God. But I wanted more. I wanted to look down on my creation and bask in it, the way a man looks up at his creator and basks in it. It had to be you. The others made me write notes. I was constantly writing notes, mute. Not by choice but by imposition. But you learned my language. You loved me.”
“Chuy, I wanted to cheat off your homework assignments. It was easier if I understood what the hell you were saying.”
I looked around as he talked. I tried to guess what he had just injected me with.
“Everybody wanted to cheat off me. You were the only one that ate with me, that got to know me.”
“Ok, so you were a little confused.”
“No, no. I never loved you sexually. I couldn’t.”
“That’s why it had to be a girl.”
I felt sick. Chuy didn’t want a daughter. He wanted a bride.