I Write Like says I wrote this story in Chuck Palahniuk’s style. It’s included in a free collection Password Incorrect.
Benedykt Ossolinsky, age 39, began to grow childish.
On the first day of his midlife crisis, he stood in front of the mirror examining his receding hairline and wrinkles on his face. In that very moment, while staring at his reflection he found in his eyes that mad look he had last seen thirty years ago in a photograph taken at a tethered flying model competition. The photo was taken by Henryk the servant, when his little charge decided he wanted a red biplane model Curtiss Consolidated Skyhawk Cruisader 3A “Bingo Star”.
This new look was also noticed by his co-workers, who for the most part, considered him to be an infantile spoiled brat. It fit with their idea of a boss.
And Benedykt was indeed the boss, even though he himself couldn’t quite believe it. He was the head of a foundation for the self-promotion of the Ossolinsky family, well-known descendants of Polish-American aristocrats, engaged in business ventures there, and charity work here. The position was highly honorable and very prestigious.
Just as the employees didn’t like Benedykt, in equal measure Benedykt didn’t like his job. He considered it extremely stressful and felt it forced him to super-human sacrifices. Everything was arranged by the family as a penance for avoiding work. He had to go to the office at least three times a week for two full hours and entertain various smiling journalists, drink coffee with them and listen. He had to sign letters and open gifts from various companies hoping to win favors. And he had to play golf and attend social functions, movie premiers, shows and art exhibits. The family had only planned for three months of vacation time a year. Scandal! As a sign of protest he took to coming to the office wearing a t-shirt with the slogan “Attention, Baby!” on it.
All of these unfortunate circumstances resulted in Benedykt’s addiction to drugs, alcohol and sex.
“Luckily, one can be an addict in style,” he liked to repeat to himself as he inhaled another dose of funfetamine and washed it down with a Hot Benedictus cocktail.
To repeat after his father – Benedykt had everything and couldn’t appreciate it. And truly, the father was right, his son had already experienced everything, tried everything, and was interested in less and less. Not like when he was a child, when he was just discovering the world, and the parents let him do and have whatever he wanted. Including the red Curtiss biplane.
And that was exactly what Benedykt realized when he saw that wild look from thirty years ago.
The next day he noticed his skin was smoother, even though he didn’t apply his usual moisturizing cream the night before, because he was too preoccupied with getting addicted in a truly grand style.
“Listen, what happened to your wrinkle? You know, the one that kept me awake all night before the Charity Ball,” Ewelina asked, she was Benedykt’s new, eighteenth to date, fiancée and was crazy about looking good.
She was afraid that particular wrinkle on the face of her future husband will destroy the photo in the wedding announcement section of the newspaper, but fortunately, her parents arranged for photo-shopping at the editorial offices, so everything would turn out just fine.
“Not here and not coming back,” Benedykt answered mischievously realizing that he was absolutely convinced it was true.
“Ah, my Benedictino,” Ewelina the 18th fiancée said sweetly and looked at her man as if she fell in love with him all over again.
During the following days and weeks, Benedictino analyzed his look in the mirror and noticed more and more significant changes for the better. His hair returned to its college heyday, when he could use sugar paste to style himself a Mohawk, just like a certain punk band member, who always stood on the left and played on a brown guitar, which these days could be found in the basement of the Ossolinskys’ residence.
Thanks to the glorious return of the college hair, Ewelina was replaced by Marzena, the 19th Fiancée, who was only 20 years old, but the age difference was hardly visible and was still getting smaller. The only problem with Marzena was that she was tall and Benedictino was becoming shorter, thinner and his body proportions continued to change. He began to look like a teenager, and the family forbade him to go to work.
After a while Marzena left him, because next to him she felt old and fat. Which was OK with him really, as the majority of his time now was spent on playing computer games suitable for children aged 12 and up. In addition, his parents had to purchase the entire stock of a model plane shop for him, so Benedictino bambino could spent hours gluing models together with the help of old Henryk, who wasn’t really good at it at all – his hands were shaking too much. This became the subject of many pranks on the part of little Benny. Pranks, which drove the old servant to a nervous breakdown until the man decided to quit working for the Ossolinskys.
And little Benny went from model ships to model planes (but he didn’t want a red Curtiss this time), and finally to Blaster Blocks and Galactic Wars.
He also began to display interest in little girls. His parents, to avoid a scandal, locked baby Benny at the Noble Kozierobki estate, where he got to peep at his new nanny, Justyna, when she was in the shower.
His parents kept buying him smaller and smaller clothes and were happy – their own son fulfilled their great need for a grandson.
And Benny-bo at the age of 41 became the lovely adult baby just like in the photo taken at the flying model competition, and under the watchful eye of his parents, he was developing beautifully. He stopped riding his bike, stopped walking, stopped talking, and during auntie Helena’s name day party, he said for the last time: “Mama.”
After a while, he stopped crawling and sitting up. He became tiny, and his lovely skin was the envy of all ladies of documented aristocratic pedigree. Unfortunately, he also began to spit out his cream of wheat and throwing the spoon while being fed mashed celery, which should not happen to an adult man from a good family. This, as well as the fact that he peed during the night and had to wear disposable nappies, was a source of profound grief for his family.
“Ah, it’s not so bad. Grandpa Thaddeus had the same condition, and that was back in the days of cloth diapers,” Bennicito’s father tried to cheer himself up.
After a while, during an event for the Polish diaspora in America, little Benidicticino-baby-boo began to latch onto his mother’s breast, and that was simply appalling.
Maybe out of shame the infant began to curl up with his legs touching his chin.
After a few weeks he fell out of even the smallest disposable diaper for newborns.
A day after that, he disappeared, or rather ceased to be visible. He became an embryo. A little embryo of a grown man in the midst of his midlife crisis.