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Orphans Have All the Luck

Illustration for article titled Orphans Have All the Luck

“I gotta kill Dad,” I told my mom over Christmas. Her eyes widened. “Don’t worry,” I said. “I’m not going to have sex with you.” I paused. “I do need to kill you, too, though.”


Mom turned from her computer. “I don’t think I understand,” she said, carefully. God. I should have known she was going to make this complicated.

“Greatness,” I said. “I need to achieve it. Pothead Space Ninja isn’t going anywhere, and I think it’s because you guys are still alive. Don’t you want me to achieve greatness?”


“That depends,” she said. Typical. “I’m still confused.” Even more typical. “What is Pothead Space Ninja?”

I sighed. Normally, I don’t think personal issues like hopes and dreams and aspirations are one’s parents’ business, but in this case I figured it was a moot point. Or would be soon, anyway.

Pothead Space Ninja is my novel. Or it will be. I mean, it is, but it’s more like a Platonic ideal of my novel right now. It’s gonna be so good, though.” I flashed her a big, confident grin, the kind I reserve for moms.

She nodded and started to rise. “I have a show on in fifteen minutes, and I really want to watch it...”


“No!” God. This was just like when I was nine and she made me go with the family to visit my grandma in California for two weeks instead of letting me stay home by myself so I could go to Josh Biteler’s birthday at Showbiz. “Listen to me!”

Deep breath. “OK,” I began, “so everyone knows that, like, orphans are the best at achieving greatness—”


“Like Annie?” Mom interrupted. “Because I think Annie would have rather had her parents alive than have gone to live in a mansion with Daddy Warbucks.”

Not like Annie—” I started.

Illustration for article titled Orphans Have All the Luck

“Gosh, you loved that movie. We couldn’t get you to stop singing those songs. I remember, you told me you wanted to be Annie for Halloween, and oh, we had to argue with you for hours that sixteen was too old for trick-or-treating at all, much less dressed as a little girl—”

“I don’t mean like Annie!” I yelled. “I mean like Bruce Wayne! Clark Kent! Peter Parker! Luke Skywalker! Harry Potter! The deaths of their parents shaped all of them in ways that can’t be appreciated by those of us who are progenitorically advantaged. And ‘progenitorically advantaged.’ Is that a total oxymoron of a saying or what?”


“It’s not a saying,” Mom said, shaking her head. “And I don’t think you can just kill us and suddenly—I don’t think it works that way.” She looked at me closely. “You know those are all fictional characters, right?”

“Stephen King isn’t fictional! And his dad died before he was born! His mother raised him, but still.” I glared at her.


“I guess that’s good news for me,” she said. She turned back to the computer. “But you still can’t kill your father.”

“What the fuck?” I was so mad now. “You want me to end up like, I don’t know, Hawkeye? I bet Hawkeye’s parents are still alive and they’re embarrassed for him. ‘That your boy, Barton? In the purple suit?’”


“I don’t know who that is—” Mom said.

Exactly,” I snapped.

“—but you used to love wearing that purple hat of mine. If I hadn’t taken it back, you would have brought it to college with you.”



“Listen,” she went on, her fingers dancing on the keyboard. “I want you to succeed. Your father does, too. If this is actually about those power-skating lessons we made you take, I have already apologized for that over and over again.” She moved away, revealing a Wikipedia page on her screen. “Look. Stephen King’s father didn’t die—he just left. After Stephen King was born.” She touched a finger to her chin. “And you know, Luke Skywalker wasn’t technically an orphan, either.”


“It’s like—” I gritted my teeth. “It’s about the principle, or the archetypal forms or whatever. It’s just—you have to trust me. I don’t have time to explain it. You should read Joseph Campbell—”

Illustration for article titled Orphans Have All the Luck

“Oh! We watched him on PBS!” she said. “That was neat.” More typing. “If Ninja Pothead is so important to you, I think you should just sit down and write it instead of killing anyone. And you should write down those stories about Stripey. You were so funny when you used to tell them to your little brother. She was a good cat.”

GOD. “It’s Pothead Space Ninja,” I said. “And that’s not even the real ti—”

“Here,” she said, pointing to a new Wikipedia page. “Hawkeye was an orphan, too. So I guess it’s no guarantee of anything. You certainly cannot kill your father and me if you’re only going to be in charge of the West Coast Avengers. There’s a reason I moved away from California. It’s an unhappy place.”


I just stared out the window. She was never going to get it.

“I think maybe you just need to (a) get better at doing your research, and (b) doing your work.” She stood up. “Now, my show is on.” She left.


OK. It took me a few minutes, but I regrouped. This was nothing new. And if Mom, as usual, wasn’t going to go for it, there was only one thing to do.

Dad was in the basement, moving some boxes. “Hey,” I said to him, “I gotta kill Mom. Don’t worry—I’m not going to have sex with you.”


Commenter Moff’s real name is Josh Wimmer, and he can usually be found at

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I heard some five, yes 5, year old kid killed his mother for far, far less.

Chilling when that's in your mind.