November 25, 1944

December 10th, 2022

If you count back approximately 270 days, you arrive at February 29, 1944 — and yes, 1944 was a leap year — and it’s around this time that Hilda and Joe made love or, to state it more bluntly, had unprotected sex, and I was conceived. It was a Tuesday, under the sign of Pisces. Perhaps a foreshadowing of the Age of Aquarius, though apparently astrologers disagree as to when the Aquarian Age began or whether it has even started. So much for astrological precision. Or even relevance. I assume they were already married by then, since my mother had to formally divorce my father a few months after I was born, though I don’t know for sure.

At any rate, by November 25 I was born a Sagittarian, a straight shooter, “the centaur of mythology, the learned healer whose higher intelligence forms a bridge between Earth and Heaven. Also known as the Archer.” None of which I knew at the time.

In fact, the first story told about me is that when Hilda brought me home from the hospital she found Joe in bed with another woman. Somehow I also knew — perhaps my mother told me — she was a woman of color. He was, above all, a lover of many women. He was also an alcoholic, a newspaper reporter — indeed city editor of the Washington Post — and an inveterate liar. He gambled on the horse races and mostly lost. I saw him only half a dozen times during my childhood. The last time he was with a minor Hungarian princess, to whom he had spun stories of wealth and fame, both of which forever eluded him.

What little I know about him is probably wrong. I was told he was born in Redwood City, CA. has a “Joseph James Cloud, born in Washington City, California, USA on 10 May 1901 to Charles M Cloud and Lucille Cochran.” But that “Joseph James Cloud passed away on 31 Aug 1980 in Woodland, Yolo, California, USA,” and I doubt that my father could have lived that long. By 1953, when Hilda and I moved to Mexico in order to distance ourselves from Senator Joseph McCarthy’s Unamerican Activities Committee, he was already in declining health. He had also decamped from Maryland to parts unknown in order to avoid having to pay child support, or so my mother told me. Indeed everything I am recounting here came from Hilda.

I don’t remember a thing, though in my mind’s eye I see myself in swaddling clothes, being carried by her down the steps of the George Washington University Hospital, which at the time I imagined looked like the photo above (but probably did not).

[Continued at tssf.atg-host]

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