By Mark Joseph Kevlock
“I do have them. Whether you believe me or not.”
Goodwin Brown lived in the future. Unfortunately, his parents did not.
“With that imagination,” his father said, “maybe you should go to Hollywood someday.”
Goodwin’s father was a truck driver. What was the use of Goodwin repeating himself to such a man? Goodwin did it anyway.
“It’s not my imagination, Dad. I can do things. I have powers.”
“Goodnight, son,” Goodwin’s mother said. She was a housewife. She hadn’t any powers at all.
For eight years now, Goodwin had lived with these parents. They were honest, hard-working people who argued a lot, paid their bills, and went to church.
But they still didn’t believe in miracles.
Goodwin Brown reported to bed, as ordered. He had his own room, on the second floor, with a set of bunk beds. Goodwin slept in the top bunk. No one slept in the bottom. Goodwin Brown was an only child.
He didn’t have the kind of powers you could practice at night, like telepathy or psychokinesis. So he just went to bed, and waited for tomorrow.
“Nothing can hurt me,” Goodwin announced at breakfast.
“That’s nice, dear,” his mother replied. She gave him some more pancakes.
“That’s my main power,” Goodwin explained. “But I can calculate numbers pretty fast, too. And I can read poetry, even that old stuff with funny words.”
“Reading is good,” his father told him. “Keep on reading.”
“Nothing can hurt me,” Goodwin repeated, with half a pancake hanging from his mouth. “Haven’t you noticed that? I’ve never had a cut or a bruise.”
“Yer a tough kid,” his father spoke proudly.
“How can I convince you?” Goodwin asked.
“Have another pancake,” his mother said.
Goodwin went to school like any other kid. He knew that, in the future, a lot of people had powers. They just hadn’t recognized them yet.
“I’m operating above the norm,” Goodwin said. “I’m utilizing Mankind’s untapped potential.”
His parents didn’t believe him at dinner, either. It was getting near time for a demonstration. Goodwin knew it would need to be a dramatic one.
On Saturday afternoon, he climbed into the cab of his father’s truck and opened the glove compartment. He took out his father’s gun. Standing in the kitchen doorway, he showed the gun to his parents. They were watching TV in the middle room.
“What the hell are you doing with that?” Goodwin’s father leapt off the sofa.
“I’m going to prove to you my powers.”
“Goodwin, that’s not a toy,” his mother scolded.
“Stay out of this, Sue Ann,” his father said to her. “I’ll handle it.”
Goodwin Brown raised the gun and pointed it at his own head. “It’s loaded,” he said. “I checked.”
“Goodie, what are you doing!” his mother almost screamed.
“Sue Ann, shut up!” his father shouted.
Goodwin stood near the kitchen table. His father stood in the doorway.
“Now, Goodwin, let’s talk,” he said. “Tell me what’s the matter.”
Goodwin just smiled. “Nothing, Dad. I’m showing you one of my powers, that’s all. My best one.”
“Oh, Lord Jesus Christ!” his mother shouted.
“Goodwin, why do you want to hurt yourself?” his father said.
“I won’t be hurt,” Goodwin said. “I’ll be fine. I told you all along: nothing can hurt me.”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” his father scolded him.
“I knew you wouldn’t ever believe me,” Goodwin said. “So I had to do this.”
He lowered the gun for a second because his arm was getting tired. Then he put it right back.
“Goodwin, you’re a good boy,” his father said. “A real good kid.”
“I know that,” Goodwin said. “I’m just showing you my power. Then you’ll believe me.”
The way they looked so scared, Goodwin wondered if they would believe him, even afterward.
“This gun can’t hurt me because I believe in myself,” Goodwin explained. “In the future they understand these things. Willpower can accomplish anything. Nothing bad happens, unless you think it’s going to. I don’t believe in bad things.”
“My son is crazy!” Goodwin’s mother said.
“Shut up, Sue Ann,” Goodwin’s father said.
Then, to Goodwin: “How can I talk you out of this?”
“He’s only eight years old!” his mother cried.
“If you had any faith, you’d know I’d be fine,” Goodwin Brown told his only parents. “It’s about time that humanity started believing in itself. It may as well begin with the two of you.”
“He’s talking like a weirdo,” Goodwin’s mother said. “My son is possessed by the devil!”
“There’s no use talking anymore,” Goodwin said. “I’ll just show you what I mean.”
“Son, don’t!” his father shouted in desperation. “We’ll believe you. We’ll believe you from now on, about your powers. You don’t have to prove anything.”
They sure made a show of it, Goodwin Brown thought, these parents of mine. It was all so silly. He couldn’t be hurt. What were they so afraid of? Goodwin Brown pressed the gun against his temple. Both of his parents screamed.
Knowing he’d be fine, Goodwin pulled the trigger.