ANY MAN WHO HAD MY skills and worked as hard as I had, for as long as I had, should have wound up better off. I won't say that my problems were no fault of my own. I made quite a few mistakes along the way.
I was 71 years of age. I owned a small house in a rural area near the sea. I had a monthly pension income of 382 Crowns. With my backyard garden and fish from the sea, the pension was enough to feed, clothe, heat and even doctor me a bit. It was not enough for much else.
I could program computers, although I did not have a college degree. I was a black belt in the art of Loro and could defeat men half my age in a fight. Neither skill was really marketable at my age.
I grew up in the center of Alvero, the capital of the Kingdom of Averon. I had a strong early skill in mathematics and logic. Given half a chance I could have made a comfortable life for myself by training in my areas of strength. The key phrase here is 'given half a chance.'
Someone in authority decided that I should be a poet. I had no skill in poetry or any of the other so-called fine arts. In addition, I hated poetry. I could not see anything other than a confused mumble in the words. My hate was not so much of the subject matter; frequently I was unable to determine the subject of a poem. I would logically analyze the words of the poem. The words would often make no sense. I would, initially, be asked, "Do you feel anything after reading the poem?" I would reply, "I feel a great deal of anger that people are wasting my time with vague, poorly written words. The anger grows each time I read the trash. I feel that I may kill someone if I am forced to continue."
Those in charge saw no problem. They would just flunk the little bastard until he decided to play their game!
The problem was that I didn't understand what the game was. I would ask, "Please explain what you want."
The reply was always, "Work harder!"
I would ask, "Work harder at what?
I would just get an insolent grin and then be advised, "Try harder and you will find out! I know you can like poetry and then you will greatly benefit."
By the end of third school I had become an angry, confused failure. Anything I tried, except hate, was an instant disaster. I doubted everyone around me. Even worse, I doubted myself. My initial hate for the teaching staff grew to a violent corrosive hate of everyone around me and even myself. It was not exactly the situation the school had envisioned when they set up the program.
I was not, however, a laughing stock at the school. Two students died playing that little game. One of them actually physically attacked me! The attack reinforced my idea that good poetry students were mentally deranged. The Court actually thought I was mentally deranged. I took numerous tests, all of which proved that I was sane. The tests also showed a level of hate which was beyond the experience of even the Court psychiatrist. One interesting thing they also found was an incredible level of adrenaline in my system.
The Court mandated my removal from the Fine Arts program and special counselling. The Teacher's Union challenged the Court's ruling. The issue would be decided on appeal. The appeal would last until after the end of my schooling.
I would get up in class, mumble some terrible verse, get my fail and sit down in absolute silence. Even the teachers would not speak to me, as my replies were angry and very confrontational. My normal form of address for anyone recognizably male was faggot. My normal form of address for anyone recognizably female was bitch. If I could not determine the sex of the target of my anger, I would address them as... Well, anyhow, I think you get the idea. My attitude may have affected my popularity, I wouldn't know. No one in the school would talk to me, excepting only the teachers. The teachers would talk to me only to give me assignments... and fails. By the way, a purpose of my education was to broaden my social horizons.
By the end of third school I was already a senior black belt in Loro. I had learned to harness some of my anger. I even managed to turn my anger to constructive use. My fights were conducted in a cold rage. Well, sometimes the rage was cold. I would almost always win and only sometimes severely injure my opponents.
My Master expelled me from his gola when I left third school. I had helped build the reputation of the gola as a place of brave, savage Loro fighters. The latter was the main part of my problem. When they yell, "Be a man!" at most fighters it means rather than be a coward. When they yelled it at me it meant be a man, don't tear his throat out with your teeth like an animal. I had quite a bit of rage. Well, the insurance carrier had a little talk with my Master... You know how it goes.