"One Lucky Bastard" by Carl Reiner Exclusively on RANDOM CONTENT

    Most people would find it hard to believe that Brando Newman, the central male character of this epic tale, was but twenty years old when he went from being a sad, lost soul to a happy, bonafide celebrity. Some consider Brando Newman to be the luckiest man alive and others, the unluckiest.

     How lucky would you say was a man who is the sole surviving sibling in his family? Two of Brando’s brothers, Sean and Redford, were the first to go and his older sisters, Sandra and Brigitte, passed away the following day. During that short, fateful period, four of the Newman sextuplets had breathed their last breaths. It was a heartbreaking morning for their mother, Ava Newman, and for their father, Adam Pafko, her soon to be husband, whose divorce papers from his first wife had just been signed. 

    It was also a sad day for the hard working attendants in the nursery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. All were tearful when Liam, the fifth sextuplet, had to be taken off the life-support system.

    Their Dad was saddened by the loss but their mother was inconsolable. For nine months, two hundred and seventy long days, Ava had proudly and with great discomfort carried six growing embryos in her womb. For the last four months of her pregnancy, while confined to her bed, Ava read every old and new book about the care and raising of infants–from Doctor Benjamin Spock’s “Baby And Child Care” and Magaret Ribble’s “The Rights Of Infants”to the recently published “Baby 411” by Denise Field and Ari Brown.

    From the catalogues strewn on her bed, Ava had ordered six cribs, blue and pink sleepwear, dozens of blankets and sheets, six ceiling mobiles, six rubber ducks and a boxful of pacifiers. She had promised herself to do everything in her power to be the best possible mother to her six babies. 

    Now that all but one were gone, the love, dedication and hands-on mothering that Ava was prepared to give to her six babies, she would hereafter lavish on her only child, Brando. 

    Being aware of his future wife’s plan, Adam promised that he would do all in his power to help her raise their child in the manner she had outlined. 

     The two doting parents were an unbeatable team and their giggly infant was the recipient of the best kind of loving care. All went swimmingly for the family until one hot summer’s day when Adam dove into their backyard pool and swam three fast laps before suffering a fatal heart attack. This tragic event aborted the chance for Adam to give his son legitimacy. 

    From that day forward, Ava Newman channeled all her time, energy and love into the raising of the last living member of her bastard brood. 

    As Brando grew, Ava pointed out to her son how ephemeral life was and because no one could know how long they would live, she suggested that Brando become involved only in pursuits that would bring him joy, real honest-to-goodness joy!

     Fortunately, there were two things in Brando’s life that made it possible for him to take her suggestion to heart. The one thing he would never have to worry about was making a living, as his Dad bequeathed to him an enormous fortune. He now had millions in real estate and cold, hard cash but sadly, no legitimate surname. 

    As for Brando pursuing something that gave him real joy, there would not be a problem. In all the world there was but one endeavor that, if he successfully completed, would doubtlessly provoke a great big smile on his handsome face–a smile so broad that it would ricochet through his body and bring him the kind of unbridled joy his mother dreamed that one day would be his.

    To many, it may seem puerile that such unabashed joy could be engendered simply by his succeeding in doing something he had attempted every day since he had learned to read--fill in all the empty boxes in every crossword puzzle printed every day in the daily and weekend editions of the Los Angeles Times and New York Times. 

    Of late, to challenge himself, Brando has been pain-stakingly completing the New York Times puzzles on his old Smith Corona typewriter. 

    Knowing how much joy her son would have if he could solve the crossword puzzles in foreign languages, Ava Newman searched out and hired language professors to teach Brando how to read and write French, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Romanian, Hungarian, Polish, Japanese, Chinese, Dutch, Slovak, Irish, Scottish, Portuguese, Yiddish and Farsi –and to good avail!

    It was reported that after filling in the last square of the Sunday edition of the Farsi crossword puzzle, the smile that exploded on Brando’s face was so radiant that his flashing teeth were visible to the astronauts who were manning the international station in outer space.

FOR MORE STORIES by CARL REINER see "What I Forgot To Remember," his Spring 2015 Bio.