Walter knew he wanted to be a brain surgeon when he carved his first pumpkin. Driving the serrated knife through the thick orange flesh; wriggling his fingers in the fibrous web of wet pumpkin guts; transforming an unfeeling and faceless gourd into a smiling and grateful jack-o’-lantern—the experience made him feel like a god.
By the time Walter was eight years old he had borrowed every book about the brain that was available at his local library. He skimmed them quickly, gliding past all of the incomprehensible words and dismissing them as unnecessary gobbledygook.
Walter’s loving parents did their best to nourish their son’s enthusiasm. Every gift-giving occasion was filled with medically themed toys and playsets that were guaranteed to stimulate a young, curious mind. And his parents were never alarmed when Walter used his father’s cordless drill to bore holes into the heads of his dolls and action figures. After all, their son was going to be a doctor!
But by the time Walter was sixteen, it was clear that he lacked the aptitude, patience, disposition, diligence, acumen, temperament and personal hygiene to become a passable brain surgeon. His parents hoped that, as he matured, Walter’s ambitions would become focused upon an occupation that would not result in someone’s death when practiced poorly.
But Walter’s parents grossly underestimated the depth of their son’s passion. Walter firmly believed in the valuable lesson he had learned from pop songs and Saturday morning cartoons: you can be anything you want to be!
When stymied by the fact that his own abilities were inadequate, Walter learned to rely on the abilities of others. In high school he became adept at identifying the most gifted student in any class, sitting next to him or her, and cribbing the answers to test questions. He graduated with a GPA of 4.5.
College proved to be a bit more challenging. His scholarship covered the cost of housing, tuition and books, but Walter had to wait tables and walk dogs for the money he needed to pay other students to complete his assignments and take his exams.
Medical school was even more demanding. Every dime Walter earned was spent on private investigators tasked with gathering information that would make his instructors vulnerable to extortion. And when Walter wasn’t working, he was busy plotting and causing the “accidental” deaths of the principled medical professionals who could not be blackmailed.
It was a long, difficult road that was filled with self- sacrifice. But through it all Walter never stopped believin’. He never lost his grip on the dreams of the past. He let nothin’ break-a his stride. And he became a brain surgeon.
Now he was standing in an operating room with something called an endoscope in his hand. Tears filled his eyes as he looked into his patient’s cranium and saw a wrinkled mass of grey meat that bore no resemblance to the pumpkin guts he remembered from his youth.
Walter wiped the tears from his eyes, set the endoscope aside, took a deep breath and then plunged his wriggling fingers into the grey meat as he thought to himself, “Dreams really do come true.”