Violent Traditions for Developing Minds
by The Teeth
Ignore the green-faced goblin in the children’s section.
I was visiting a local library when the creature abruptly entered, cawing and grunting heavily in the otherwise quiet building. She had an unassuming appearance, but the presence of a chupacabra. Her manner was completely distasteful, but you were given the impression that she was at least attempting to suppress her natural instincts. I had no doubt that she could, if provoked, leap across the room with incredible speed and ferocity. Somehow, I had been expecting this moment for some time.
My day had been spent enduring a particularly bad vibration, the kind that leaves you with a looming sense of dread. At the time, I had not been certain of the source, but as the goblin loomed closer I was drawn deeply into the pit of my stomach. Despite my growing paranoia, I managed to act in a completely inconspicuous way. Any loud or eccentric reactions may have been met with extreme hostility, I knew that better than most.
The goblin was accompanied by two spawn, potentially looted from the nearest orphanage. She seemed like the type to steal children from their beds at night or lure them into an edible house. After observing them for a moment, however, I was left with the distinct impression that they all belonged together. Not that this was a comforting thought, as the children seemed of a regular stock. I shuddered to think about the type of person who would mate with a green monster, possibly a desperate or morbidly curious individual determined to spread their genetics at any cost.
I immediately gained a deep empathy for the smallest of the spawn, as he came bumbling into the building. He was at the age where motor functions are still very sloppy, and interactions with the environment are somewhat heavy handed. The goblin growled scornfully at the youth fairly consistently. It was not immediately apparent to me, a fully formed and reasonably knowledgeable adult, what she was concerned about. I have always felt that a library is a relatively safe place to bring a child, as it is not an environment which easily harbors destruction.
If the woman was concerned about volume, she should clearly know that her own vocalizations were far more disruptive than the small burbling noises of her offspring. For about five minutes, she scolded her spawn on a variety of topics from running, touching, talking, breathing, and of course asking too many questions. It was clear that the stifled youth was unable to take a single action without a slap on the wrist. How can a developing mind learn the weight of his transgressions through this process?
For a moment, things were finally quiet. Then the sickening slap of a boney hand hitting skin shattered the silence. Though I did not see it, I knew immediately what had happened, and the volume of it sent a cold shock through my spine. The goblin’s voice now cackled through air in the building. “Where did you get those?” The child had apparently picked out too many books, from what I pieced together. It was hard to really tell what was going on; all eyes were on the situation now. I could have thrown a chair across the room and gone unnoticed.
An old war horse, who had been reading a paper, stood up and congratulated the woman. He was thrilled by the situation, probably disappointed that there wasn’t any bloodshed. He rewarded the woman in the style of an army drill sergeant. “That’ll teach the miserable little bastard, he won’t go trying to rent any extra books from the library anymore. I was beaten senseless as a child and I for one am proud to see somebody continue the cycle of abuse. Puts hair on your chest.” Judging by the look on the kid’s face, he thought this strange man was going to start beating him with a belt.
“It’s healthy,” explained the mother. “We have to keep him from reading too much fiction. Rots your brain with imaginary thinking. I learned that when I was a kid and I turned out half OK.”
The old man was called on by one of the librarians. His computer lesson was ready. Here he was, a fossil of thought processes, trying to cling to old habits in a new world. Excited, he turned his attention to the new voice and walked into a spacious room with a single beige computer. He probably had no idea how long that kid would remember what happened here. Hell, he had already forgotten.
I couldn’t help but be haunted by the goblin’s parting words. Her entire ideology was as disgusting as it was common. Raise ’em half OK, worked for me. No lessons from one’s experience, no emphasis put on empathy. Forget about adapt and evolve. Evolution is for the nuts, anyway.