I killed my dad. And then I killed Richard Farrell’s dad.. And then I killed my mom. And then I killed Richard Farrell’s mom. I didn’t blow any of these people away with a gun. Instead, I let them die. I pulled a kitchen chair up next to Richard Farrell and watched him struggle to come up with a tough and gritty narrative. I punched him in the face fifty times, and said, “Live, you bastard! There’s no room for the commonplace! If six of your family members don’t die within the next three days, then there will be no op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, much less a book to promote.” Then I cut off my left hand and began bleeding all over Richard Farrell. Then my left hand grew back. It took a long time, but it was a long night and there was time to kill and plenty of blood in me to let plop on the parquet floor. Then I cut off my right hand and I scattered the blood equally over my parents and Richard Farrell’s parents. I wanted them all to have a taste. And then my right hand grew back. All ten of our hands clutched tightly to their chest. And suddenly, the white in my eyes became flush with the possibility of tall tales mined into memoir.
Why did I do all this? It’s complicated.
You have to understand something about Richard Farrell. I loved the son of a bitch more than anything on the planet. You see, 28 years earlier, Richard Farrell chopped off my four little limbs and put the remainder of my body into a cardboard box. Years later, I would sue Kim Basinger for failing to perform the court-ordered fellatio upon a part of my body that I would refer to as “the first leg.” In my box, I did not move for thirteen years. I was home schooled and asked to memorize every passage in the Bible. I was then asked to memorize every passage in the Qur’an. I was then asked to memorize every line written by L. Ron Hubbard. Richard Farrell, who became both his own father and my father, was my educator and he forced me to eat lots of fiber. When I brayed for ice cream, Richard Farrell would come around and cut off a piece of anatomy. When I ran out of interesting anatomical parts, Richard Farrell would kidnap another kid in the neighborhood, get the kid hooked on heroin, and then start hacking away his body parts.
When I was 3, before he cut my limbs off and put me in the box, Richard Farrell brought me to the Bronx Zoo for answers. He threw me into the bear cage and laughed when I was mauled by the bears. I learned how to speak bear. The bears told me I had cerebral palsy. A loss of oxygen to my brain had destroyed my ability to communicate with other humans. But the bears understood my sensitive nature. They did not take pity on me. I tried pleading with the bears not to maim me. But they knew that Richard Farrell had taken me to the zoo.
My Aunt Helena tried to rescue me from Richard Farrell. She said that she hadn’t seen any relative bleed as frequently as I had. For a time, I was bleeding breweries in blood. The government became interested in my preternatural abilities to generate so much blood. Perhaps if the American population became tired of beer and more open-minded, they might consider my profuse bleeding as an alternative beverage.
Richard Farrell told my Aunt Helena and the government that he had sole legal dominion over my blood supply. He then made himself my Aunt Helena’s dad, and decapitated my Aunt Helena’s head three times, watching it grow back four times over a chilly December.
But back to the box. Ironically, it was easy for Richard Farrell to engage in an uncommon act of discernible love. He mutilated me because he loved me. He tried out eight thousand knives upon my tender young body. All of them were different models. He then asked me to co-author a large book chronicling the history of knives between 1982 and 1993. I agreed to do this because it would mean living out of the box.
My limbs grew back. But Richard Farrell became meaner. I thought he was faking. I reminded him what had happened. And he didn’t believe me. The Richard Farrell left me and boasted about his journalistic conquests.
While Richard Farrell covered Bosnia, I sniffed glue. I became addicted to mescaline, heroin, cocaine, E, meth, and nearly every upper and downer that you could buy in three states. I bought a wheelbarrow at a garage sale for $12 and rolled it around the neighborhood so that people would know how intense my drug habit was. Surprisingly, nobody arrested me. And then I got bored with drugs and became a blogger. Despite the incredible nature of my tales, I have been told that I am a boring person.
Richard Farrell never knew the whole truth. But all that counts is the bottom line. The small happy moments in your life can’t possibly top the intense melodramatic moments that some other author can exploit for greater attention. Living hard is better than writing well. And if you can’t live hard, you may not be a cripple. But you won’t get that book deal.
Edward Champion produced, directed, and starred in the HBO documentary “Boxed Like Me: A Story of Lost Life and Lost Limbs” and is the author of a forthcoming memoir, “A Billion Little Pieces.”