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David M. Brown Takes on Jane Eyre

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A brief parody of one of my favorite novels:


David M. Brown takes on Jane Eyre


by Chuck Bronte

I was born in 19__ in the town of N__ Y___ C___, in the year of the second inauguration of His Lordship R____d R____n.

My parents having been annihilated in the fiery bosom of a subway train wreck but a short time after, or rather just slightly before, my introduction into the world, I was entrusted to the care of an aunt of my father's third cousin who had survived the cataclysm in an adjacent car and thus been able to attend to my father's fitfully gasped last request, a dying wish articulated in the very moment of my emergence, left big toe first, from my mother's now-congealing womb. It could not have been a sanguine childbirth. (Or I should say, it was in one sense, but not in another.)

I do not believe that this woman, who was but an indirect relation, and who hardly knew my father except to despise him to such an extent that she even refused to sit in the same train car with him, can have been very pleased to be charged with my care; nor was I, for my part, pleased to play the part of that charge.

An orphan sluicing unprotected into a friendless world can make his way, if with difficulty, so long as unmolested and possessive of a modest stipend sufficient to pay each one of his bills. But to be continually battered by bitterness and resentment and petty retaliations of petty relations for the sin of mere birth at the wrong place and time, all in the guise of a just familial care, might abrade even the most naturally ebullient spirit, such as I trust was my own. Certainly I could smile, and even hum in odd moments, when left in the company of only myself. But to be spied thus smiling! To be spied thus humming! Once, I petted the house cat when the bored feline saw fit to stray, as if unconsciously, into my familiar nook; its fur, I recollect, was both smooth and bristly; and these wondrous bristles, as I now realize from the knowledgeable vantage point of maturity, were the individual hairs constituting said fur. I can even remember a time that I whistled while I worked, when the other denizens of the household had yet to return from their regular Friday night movie and french-fry-laden repast. But to smile, to hum, to pet, to whistle, in the presence of these same dear relations? No! I could never partake of any such carefree interlude.

The woman, Emily, my guardian, unless that term has meaning, I was banned from calling "Aunt Emily"--and of course could not call her "Momma," any essay at which would have been rebuffed with the greatest contempt and horror. Rather, she must be referred to ever and always as Miss Emily. Her children--for so I shall designate them, despite their true nature as demons in elfin form--these so-called children, my elders by five and six years, were Mr. Bob and Miss Suzy. I cannot say that I feared Miss Suzy, for she scarce recognized my existence; albeit I could be discomfited, at times, by her cold and receding nature. If Miss Suzy was malevolent, it was the inert malevolence of death in ambulatory form, a sad waking oblivion for an otherwise well-appointed young girl attending the very best school in the very best neighborhood of J____y C__y.

But fat freckled Mr. Bob was my eternal nemesis; he, bound in silent complicity with Miss Emily; Miss Emily, professing always to perceive matters opposite to their actual manifestation. So that if Mr. Bob, who was both older and stronger than myself, should punch me four times in the stomach and roll me down the stairs, Miss Emily, fortuitously just then issuing from the scullery, would proceed to sharply berate me for denting the polish of the hardwood steps with my importunate bouncing head. To explain that I lacked the motive to injure her hardwood by so painful an expedient, would have availed me naught. Had I produced even a video in evidence, I am sure she would have remonstrated against whichever luckless look-a-like I must have enlisted to enact the role of blameless Mr. Bob. And while Mr. Bob durst not slug me in Miss Emily's actual presence, and thus foil their tacit conspiracy, he did so often enough within her hearing, after which she would rush in, observe the scene, and elaborate and embellish the beating I was getting.

I smarted not only at the physical pain of such sequels, but also at their flagrant and deliberate injustice. Vengeance, I vowed, would be mine, if not soon, then eventually. Meanwhile I mopped and did the dishes. For some reason they never let me cook.

One day...

"D*** it sir, never say Commonwealth to me-

say EM-PAH!"

-An overenthusiastically Anglophilic Canadian general to an American

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