Toddsworth Kingsley Doyle was 12, the day his father gave him the talk.
“Toddsworth, my dear boy, I imagine you’ve begun to notice certain curious changes in and about your physique,” Eustace Doyle said, pinching his smoking tobacco as he packed his pipe. “You’re at the glorious age of pubescence, when certain abilities will manifest themselves.”
Both father and son were atop the boy’s bed—seated at an afterschool special distance, feet dangling off the mattress. Eustace lecturing as he lit his pipe, Todd hunching over his portable Game Gear.
“There are numerous nooks and crannies of the human body, you see. Too many to speak of, frankly. With many shapes and forms. Engorging and mutating, fluctuating as though possessed…”
Eustace began to trail off as he puffed. Todd would have waved off the putrid smoke, but needed both hands to operate his Sonic The Hedgehog game in progress, which occupied his complete attention.
“Though these alterations may not seem like enhancements at first, rather burdens to bear through a terribly awkward transitory phase. Yes, with many odors, hairs and painful bulges—both pleasurable and sinister. Hard to the touch, yet sensitive to the tip, like a woman.”
Todd paused his game to retrieve another Twinkie from his bedside table drawer. As he unwrapped his sweet treat, Todd caught a glimpse of his father’s face. Judging by the amount of perspiration present, this subject was important to the man.
“Now if you experience any discomfort over the course of the next year—whether deep in your loins or otherwise, I want you tell your old man. You’re a Doyle, by jove. Suffering discomfort is not in our nature, I’ve made enough money to see to that.”
As the CTO of Columbia Records, Eustace Doyle made a comfortable living for his family.
The Doyle estate was housed in a cozy hamlet on the east end of Long Island, New York. Though Eustace barely spent any time at the house. Most nights he slept at his upper east side loft after working late at the office.
“You’ve wanted for nothing, have you, Toddie?” Eustace Doyle continued. “The best schools, private screenings of every Teenage Ninja feature to date, personal appearances by the two surviving members of Color Me Badd at your sixth grade graduation party…”
It was true. Todd was provided every privilege, save the luxury of company. Nestled in a lonely mansion overlooking the Shinnecock Bay to the east, and the Hampton Wildlife Preserve to the north, Todd Doyle’s only friends were the estate’s many handmaidens and butlers.
Todd had heard the property grounds were lovely, though he couldn’t be bothered to actually explore his surroundings.
Todd was much more comfortable indoors, playing a video game or watching his cartoons. Since he was old enough to straddle a controller, Todd Doyle was obsessed with media. Video games, movies, television—if it had a pleasant buzz and a warm glow, Todd Doyle’s nose was pressed against it.
“Toddie, sweet boy, are you listening to me? I’m attempting to explain the changes that will present themselves over the next 12 months. The changes that will turn you from a boy…into an elite, sexual, killing machine.”
Todd reached into his bedside drawer again. He opened a bag of Cheetos and a Mountain Dew. Was his dad still talking? No. No that couldn’t be. Eustace hadn’t talked to Todd this long since the boy swallowed his father’s keys.
“You’re a weapon, my son. Your body will be taut and strong. You’ll develop a six-pack that will never expire. But take heed, for as your muscles multiply, so will your sins.” Eustace Doyle said, before suddenly adjusting his collar and lowering his voice.
“Listen to me, son. You’re all that stands between the Doyle name and complete ruin. Because you see, I am not long for this world. I’ve made enemies. Business associates turned rogues. Backhanded Columbia Records deals made in shadows. Do you understand?”
Todd Doyle, in the abstract nature a boy understands his father, nodded silently. His father breathed a sigh of relief.
“Excellent. Your training starts tomorrow,” Eustace rose to his feet, brushed off his slacks. “I’ll check up on you again sometime in the spring to see how you’re getting on.”
Eustace Doyle left the room, pausing in the doorway for a moment to observe his son. He frowned, wondering if this chubby simple-minded boy had understood a word of what he’d said, and shut the door behind him.
Todd remained seated on his bed, alone in his room with his Game Gear, 60-inch Magnavox television, Mortal Kombat 2 arcade cabinet, and assorted pinball machines.
As the bedroom door shut, Todd’s head rose.
Without a word, the child carefully placed his Game Gear, Cheetos and Mountain Dew on the nightstand. He opened his Twinkie drawer and reached deep within until his fingers found their target.
Todd Doyle stood from the bed, three throwing stars nestled between his fingers. He squatted low and leapt high into the air, executing a perfect 900-degree Ninja flip. In mid-flight, the three shuriken rocketed expertly from Todd’s hand across the room, where they struck with a deep thunk into the mahogany door. Directly where Eustace Doyle’s head had paused moments ago.
“I already know all about the Burt’s and the Bees, father.” Todd Doyle whispered.
The date was February 14, 1993. It would be thirteen years to the day, before Todd Doyle would be face-to-face with his father again.by