Uncle Horace (1994)

 




Horace, my mother always told me, was the strange one in the family. A seemingly ordinary child he was, but nonetheless he possessed a queer knack for bizarre behavior. I remember him only as an uncle who always had a few too many at family gatherings, nothing too out of the ordinary in an Irish family, but mother insisted that there was simply more to it than simple drunkenness. She remembers with fondness the walks she would take with my father early in their courtship, and how often Uncle Horace would jump from bushes into their path dressed as the pope and hurl obscenities at their shoes. On other occasions Horace would do supper time “Magic Shows”, as he called them. He would make substances such as mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and entire jugs of milk “disappear” down my grandfather’s pants. Naturally grandfather was beside himself, but he found it difficult to scorn a child with such a “creative form of misconduct”. It’s no secret that Horace impregnated his first nanny and sold mother’s jewelry to buy lamp oil. He planned to save enough lamp oil to some day burn down Detroit and ruin America’s automotive industry. Unfortunately, the house went first. Whether the lamp oil was responsible for the fire or not, it was clear as we searched through the debris, that Horace’s lamp oil collection was then and forever more non existent. He did not speak for five years and when he finally got over his grief enough to speak he could only utter the lyrics of “Yes, we have no Bananas” and he only did so when father had his boss over for dinner.

After recovering fully from his loss, Horace gained employment at a lab specializing in botanical

experimentation. All went well, he was believed by many of his co workers to be “brilliant”, “probing”, and “jaded”. When lab employees began to strangely disappear an investigation was done and it was found that Uncle Horace had started a small artist colony in the stem of one of his hybrid gladiolas. Having lived there for three years, its inhabitants were sent to prison for income tax evasion and Uncle Horace left for Singapore to pursue a career in folk singing. I was born while he was there and met him on only a few occasions. He returned for a few short years but was deported for eating a dwarf. I never saw him or heard from him again