Even before my younger brother was born, I knew I was going to be a middle child. Not that I felt like I ever had the full attention of either of my parents. My father was always preoccupied with his business -- until he met his end at the hands of an angry mob, that is -- and my mother had her own interests. The rearing of children was clearly not among them.
My older brother Charles dealt with this by doing mean things to her prized possession, a stallion of Arabian descent that also happened to be his namesake. I thought he was being petty and juvenile, but didn’t say so for fear of incurring his considerable wrath. As long as Charles was directing his pent-up aggression elsewhere, I knew that I would be safe from the tortures that older brothers usually inflict on their siblings.