A love story about a unique family tradition

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As I lay in this darkness, cut off from the world around me, I think about the only thing I can: my life. I’d like to say that it was full of adventure and danger, that I proved my manliness to the rest of my species through feats of heroism and daring. I’d like to say that I thwarted foes and foiled evildoers. I’ve always been a fan of super heroes and dashing warriors for God-and-Country. I always wanted to be like them. Alas, I am only a man of modest means and, as far as the rest of the world is concerned, hardly worth a second look. Conrad Atwood, nobody you’d look at and think of as especially powerful or important.

The truth is, though, that the world scarcely notices me because my affluence hides me very well. I am, after all, the inheritor of extreme wealth. I don’t earn the income I’d been raised with, not a penny of it, but I don’t flaunt it, either. Certainly, I used it, but not in a flamboyant manner. I’m not one of those egocentric rich men who gets off by rubbing his wealth in the faces of those who don’t have it. I’m the furthest thing from a show-off that you could imagine. No, truth be told, I’d like to keep as much distance between the world and myself as humanly possible.

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Because my manliness is proven in my progeny.

I guess, for me, it all started from the moment I was born in 1973. The family fortune kept my birth a fair secret from the rest of the world. Oh, I have a birth certificate like everyone else, but my family likes to keep prying eyes away from us, so a few salient facts about me were- shall we say?- “fudged.”

From the moment I drew breath, I was showered with love. My mother Rose kept me safe and my father kept US safe. We lived in a secluded but comfortable house outside of town. It wasn’t so far out of town to make things difficult for us, but far enough away and isolated enough that it would take many decades before the town’s growth would overtake us and force the family to move elsewhere. A food delivery service had been arranged, paid for by the family fortune in a roundabout manner, making it unnecessary for us to bother with such things on our own. All we did was fill out an order for what we needed, left it in the post box at the end of our very long driveway every Tuesday, and the items appeared there a day or two later. For as long as I can remember, this happened without fail every week, regardless of weather or circumstances. I never investigated the conditions of the arrangement and simply took it as a given. It wasn’t until I was much older that I learned most other people didn’t have a similar arrangement of their own, that my family was unique.

Growing up as a boy, we had no visitors. Nor did we have any staff. Mother took care of everything around the house while Father worked in seclusion and secrecy in the barn on our property that had been converted into a lab of sorts. Apparently, Father was an inventor of some kind. The family fortune, apparently, came from a series of inventions that his grandfather had made back when Thomas Edison and Nikolai Tesla were causing the US Patents Office to have kittens. My great-grandfather was apparently a very crafty and ingenious fellow indeed whose patents and inventions kept an obscene amount of money pouring into our coffers since the early 1900’s. For the sake of my family’s devotion to secrecy I won’t divulge what those inventions and patents were. Suffice to say that they are still in use more than a century later and some of them are integral parts of every American’s daily life. Don’t trouble yourself about it; it isn’t really germane to my story anyway.

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