Upon my return to Paris, I got roaring drunk and passed out. For the next three weeks, I alternated between being drunk and hung over. Nothing helped. Nothing dulled the pain. Nothing could make me forget the truth of my own bizarre birth.
When I finally sobered up, I discovered my muse had abandoned me. No matter how I tried, I couldn't paint. I couldn't even draw stick figures. Every attempt was an exercise in futility. Finally, I gave up. The old bastard had taken everything from me—my identity, my humanity, my life, my passion. What was left?
Nothing mattered anymore. Finally, determined to exorcise all of my demons, I loaded all of the paintings and sketchbooks still in my apartment and drove out into the French countryside one night. I built a huge fire...and burned everything.
“I hope you're happy!” I shouted as I watched my work turn to a pile of ashes in the night. “You finally got what you wanted!”
Then I drove back to Paris and got drunk again.
The sale of the house and its contents provided me with enough to live on for the next three years. Had I been more careful with it, it might have lasted longer—but I drank heavily and paid for the services of prostitutes several times a week, just to feel the closeness of another human being. They gave me pleasure that was over quickly and left me feeling even more alone and depressed afterward. I was careful not to get any of them pregnant. I couldn't take that chance.
I didn't know what kind of offspring I might produce.
Night after night, I would end up on my laptop, looking at the old man's files again....staring at the words that had ruined my live. My so-called father's words....
I have decided the best way to monitor the clone's progress is to bring him up as my own child.
I was a clone. A carbon copy of someone else. But who?
I returned to the US, determined to find the truth. I was certain the answers I sought would be here. My so-called father's research was here. I had been born here...most likely conceived in a lab here. If I was ever going to learn the truth, my search had to start here.
I went to the university. I had never been there before—except, perhaps, when I was conceived. I didn't spend any "quality time " with him at home—why would I have visited Dr. Frankenstein's lab? But now, I found myself standing outside the building in which he had done most of his research. I didn't want to go inside, but I needed answers.
I entered the building. It was an old building, at least two hundred years old. There was an echo in the corridor. It was like something from a B-horror film. Appropriate, I thought as I looked for a way into the old man's lab. All of the doors were locked.
"Need something, son? "
The question came from a janitor wielding a mop, an elderly man—tall, thin, wrinkled like a Shar-pei dog. "I'm trying to get into Dr. Sadowski's lab," I said. “Can you tell when anyone might be around?”
He shook his head. "Ain't nobody there," he said. "Ain't nobody been in there for a long time. Not since Dr. Sadowski died. Everybody left right after that, then the government sent some guys in to pack up everything and take it away."
"The government?" I asked, inwardly alarmed.
"Rumor has it he was involved in something illegal. They questioned a lot of people here about it," the old man recalled. "Then they took away all the files."
They were looking for me. I was sure of it. I had to get as far away as I could as quickly as I could. "Do you know where I might find Dr. Stewart?" I asked. "He was Dr. Sadowski's assistant—"
The janitor shook his head. "I didn't work in this building when any of them was here. You might check with the dean's office, though."
I pulled my tattered baseball cap low over my brow as I extended my arm and turned my thumb upward. Hitchhiking wasn’t going to be easy—so few motorists were willing to pick up a man alone these days—but if the government was looking for me, they'd be able to locate me through the airlines, buses or trains. This was the only way to leave undetected.
A car slowed to a stop on the shoulder a few yards ahead of me. Grateful, I ran to it and found the driver to be an elderly man alone. “Where’re you headed, young man?” the old timer asked.
“South,” I said. It didn't really matter. Anywhere but Boston. “As far as you can take me, I’d appreciate it.”
The old man nodded. “I’m going to visit my granddaughter in Hartford, Connecticut. I can take you that far,” he offered.
“Thanks. I appreciate it, sir.” I tossed my duffel bag and backpack into the back seat and slid into the front passenger seat. The elderly man pulled back into the right hand lane and drove away….