Strong People

Son, the world demands sacrifice! You play with fire, you expect a marshmallow roast? Absurd! Yet, your mother, bless her naive heart, coddles you like a prince. Freedom, they say? More like a participation trophy for existing! These science-worshipping simpletons wouldn’t recognize responsibility if it bit them – unlike you, of course.

Son, the world roars, a bloody lion demanding its due. You play its game, a game of butchery and consequence, and expect a lollipop for your troubles? Idiocy! Yet these are the times we live in, where freedom is confused with a playground slide, devoid of the gravel that etches character. These very people, these mouth-foaming apostles of “freedom,” wouldn’t know responsibility if it bit them on their flabby, science-worshipping behinds!

This societal rot, son, it starts at home. A weak woman, your mother, bless her misguided heart, no doubt raised on a steady diet of participation trophies and emotional coddling. Your mother, a product of the very weakness she despises. Now, here she is, reaping the whirlwind of her own inability to discipline! A sorry sight, isn’t it? Like a child herself, throwing a tantrum at the state finally wielding the switch.

But you, son! You are a phoenix rising from the ashes of weakness! Unlike Jimmy, that mollycoddled shadow of a man, you will embrace the struggle! Your mother may whimper, but her tears are the baptism of a true warrior!

These weaklings who preach comfort are the true enemy, son! They see the glorious chaos, the crucible that forges men, and cower! Parasites, clinging to the backs of those who dared the fight!

Strength, son, that’s the only currency with value! These “do-gooders” preach empathy, but it’s weakness in disguise! The world craves a fist, not a hug! They dream of a utopian future, built on sandcastles of weakness, waiting to be washed away! They, these weaklings who preach comfort, are the true cowards, son. They see the immensity of the world, the chaos, the struggle, and instead of embracing the glorious uncertainty, they whimper for handouts! Parasites, clinging to the backs of those who dared the storm!

I raise you to be the architect of a new Rome, son. I raise you to be a colossus, son! Not a feckless fool like Aurelius, who betrayed the Roman legacy for a whimpering son!

Go forth, my conquering hero! Brush your teeth, conquer your tears, and leave your mother to her weakness. The world is your oyster, to be pried open with your bare hands! But remember, son, weakness is a stain, and I will not tolerate it! You are not just my heir, you are the embodiment of a “strong man’s” legacy! Disappoint me, and I’ll disown you faster than Aurelius disowned Rome!

Now go to bed, son. Dream of battles won, not the love of a “weak” woman.

The whiskey sloshed precariously in Norman’s glass as he eyed his son across the wreckage of dinner. The question hung heavy, a challenge in the cavernous silence of the study. “Weak?” he scoffed, a tremor in his voice betraying the disquiet the boy’s words had stirred. “They weren’t weak, son. No, they were misguided. Led astray by false prophets, seduced by the siren song of equality.”

Norman took a long, theatrical swig, the ice clinking disharmoniously against the glass. “Strength, boy,” he continued, his voice low, a growl meant to intimidate, “is about knowing your place in the natural order. The meek inherit the earth?Hogwash! The earth belongs to the lions, the ones who build, who conquer, who shape the world in their image.”

But the defiance in his son’s eyes wouldn’t be cowed. “But what about the dignity of those… those they call weak?”

A muscle twitched in Norman’s jaw. Dignity? A quaint notion, easily discarded in the crucible of ambition. “Dignity is a luxury the strong can afford. The weak cling to it like a tattered shroud, a shield against the harsh realities of existence.” He slammed his glass down, the sound echoing in the room.

Yet, a disquieting thought wormed its way into his mind. Was it truly weakness that had driven them to resist? Or was there something more? A primal need to define themselves, not in the shadow of the “strong,” but in their own right?Norman loathed the thought. The established order, the hierarchy carved in stone – these were the pillars of his own self-perception. To weaken them was to weaken himself.

“They lash out,” he muttered, more to himself than his son, “out of fear and envy. They see the power, the glory, and it eats at them. They can’t rise, so they try to pull us down.” He forced a smile, brittle and unconvincing. “But the strong, son, the strong weather the storm. They understand that the true measure of strength is not just in conquest, but in resilience.”

But the doubt lingered, a shadow in the corners of his mind. The storm they were weathering felt different this time.Perhaps, the “weak” were no longer content with tattered shrouds. Perhaps, they yearned for a new kind of strength, one born not of domination, but of solidarity. And that, Norman realized with a jolt of fear, was a force far more terrifying than any envious lashing out.


The son, barely a man himself, knuckles white around a beer can, stared at his father. The air in the cluttered study was thick with the ghosts of stale cigar smoke and unspoken tension.

“They were weak,” Norman rasped, his voice raw from a night of shouting at some phantom opponent on the television. “Led astray by peaceniks and communist sympathizers. Didn’t have the stomach for a real fight.” He slammed his own glass on the desk, the ice cubes scattering like fleeing soldiers.

Norman, a man built more for bluster than brawl, avoided the son’s gaze. He knew the question hung heavy, a challenge he couldn’t quite meet. Why, the son had asked, their voices echoing off the worn leather armchair, why did the weak fight back?

Shame gnawed at Norman’s gut. He couldn’t explain the primal roar that rose within a man, strong or weak, when his dignity was threatened. He couldn’t articulate the existential fear that fueled rebellion, the desperate need to prove your own humanity, even against the overwhelming odds.

Instead, he clutched at the worn narrative, the one he’d spun for years: strength versus weakness. “They were sheep,” he muttered, the word tasting like ash in his mouth. “Needed a shepherd to lead them to the slaughter.”

But even as the words left his lips, Norman knew it was a lie. He saw the flicker of doubt in his son’s eyes, the dawning realization that power wasn’t just about physical prowess. There was a different kind of strength, one born of desperation and a refusal to be trampled.

Norman took a long pull from his bourbon, the amber liquid failing to warm the hollowness within. He was a man who thrived on defining the world in stark contrasts, black and white, victor and vanquished. But the son’s question had cracked the facade, revealing the messy reality beneath. Strength and weakness weren’t binary states, but facets of the same human condition. And sometimes, even the meekest sheep could turn and bite.


The room dissolved into a swirling vortex of cigar smoke and bourbon fumes. Norman felt himself detach, a disembodied observer hovering above his slumped form. He watched with a detached horror as his son, eyes filled with a newfound skepticism, stared up at the empty chair. The room seemed to shrink, the walls closing in on his son’s bewildered face.

He was a wisp of consciousness, a disembodied observer trapped in his own study. Panic threatened to consume him, the vulnerability of his new state raw and terrifying. Then, a figure coalesced in the swirling chaos – a grotesque caricature of himself, all bluster and swagger, but with eyes that held a bottomless well of fear.

The apparition boomed, its voice a distorted echo of Norman’s own, “The weak are sheep! They need a shepherd!” It puffed out its chest, a ludicrous display that did nothing to hide the trembling hands.

A chilling realization struck Norman. This bloated parody wasn’t strength; it was a desperate shield, a projection of his own self-loathing. The shame that had always gnawed at him, the secret he held close – the memory of his own victimhood – it was the very fuel that powered this monstrous persona.

The thought, once paralyzing, now felt liberating. A strange calm washed over him. If this weakness was the source of his supposed strength, then wasn’t exposing it a kind of power? What if the world learned he wasn’t the conquering hero he portrayed? The thought used to be a nightmare, but now, it held a strange allure.

He floated closer to the apparition, its bravado faltering under his gaze. “You’re afraid,” he said, his voice a mere whisper in the echoing chamber.

The figure recoiled, its booming voice cracking. “I? Afraid? Never!” It lashed out with a meaty fist, but the blow passed harmlessly through Norman.

“You built a fortress of bluster,” he continued, his voice gaining strength, “because you couldn’t bear the world to see the truth. That you, too, were once weak, once a victim.”

The apparition dissolved, its final, whimpering cry swallowed by the swirling shadows. Norman felt himself pulled back towards his body, a reluctant homecoming. He landed with a thud, the room tilting around him.

His heart hammered in his chest, the echoes of the out-of-body experience lingering. He was weak, yes, but there was a strange freedom in that. The burden of the facade, the constant performance, felt lighter.

He looked at his son, who still held the beer can, his face unreadable. Maybe, Norman thought, the truth wouldn’t shatter him. Maybe, it could be a bridge, a shared vulnerability that could forge a new kind of strength. He took a shaky breath,ready to face the unknown, the fear still there, but tempered now with a sliver of hope.

The room dissolved. The sting of the bourbon and the stale cigar smoke vanished. Norman felt himself rise, pulled upwards by an invisible force. He looked down – his body, slumped in the chair, a grotesque caricature of the powerful persona he’d built. Shame, hot and suffocating, threatened to consume him.

He drifted through the air, a disembodied observer. It was his son, chin set, eyes filled with a newfound resolve, who filled his vision. But then, the perspective shifted. He saw himself through the son’s eyes, not as the blustering giant he presented, but as a frightened boy, forever flinching from an unseen blow.

A wave of nausea washed over him. Years of carefully crafted self-image, shattered in an instant. What if his past, the vulnerability he’d spent a lifetime hiding, became public knowledge? The thought of being exposed, a victim in a world that demanded victors, was a terror worse than death. This, this was the weakness he’d spent his life denying. Not the weakness of the “sheep” he so readily dismissed, but a deeper, primal vulnerability he’d buried under layers of aggression and machismo. Shame, hot and suffocating, threatened to consume him. What if the truth spilled out? What if the world learned the “strong man” was a fraud, hiding a scared little boy inside?

Then, a strange calm settled. The weight of his carefully constructed persona began to lift. For the first time, he saw the world without the filter of his self-loathing. He saw the strength in vulnerability, the courage it took to admit fear. He saw the power his son possessed, a power not built on bluster but on the refusal to be cowed. The room seemed to open up, the air lighter. He saw his son, not as a bewildered child, but as a young man grappling with the complexity of the world. The son’s questioning gaze, previously a source of discomfort, now felt like a lifeline. Maybe, just maybe, his vulnerability wasn’t a sign of weakness, but a chance for connection, for genuine strength.

A paradoxical feeling bloomed within him: shame, raw and agonizing, mixed with a strange sense of liberation. The burden of pretense, of constantly projecting strength to mask his insecurities, lifted. He was weak, yes, but seeing it so clearly, without the self-deception, was strangely freeing.

The room materialized again. He was back in his body, the taste of bourbon acrid on his tongue. He looked at his son, a new understanding dawning. He wouldn’t lie about strength and weakness anymore. He wouldn’t belittle the fight of the so-called weak. Perhaps, he wouldn’t even need to project strength anymore. Maybe, just maybe, it was okay to be human. Flawed, yes, but human nonetheless.

He met his son’s gaze, a flicker of vulnerability passing between them. “Maybe,” he rasped, his voice quieter than usual, “the fight for dignity is the strongest fight of all.” It wasn’t the bravado he usually exuded, but there was a quiet truth in it, a truth born from the ashes of his shattered facade.

The words felt unfamiliar, but strangely true. He couldn’t erase the past, the projections he’d built, the battles he’d fought. But maybe, just maybe, he could start to build something new, something based on honesty and vulnerability. The son turned, his eyes searching Norman’s. A flicker of understanding passed between them, a tentative bridge built across the chasm of years. The fight for strength, Norman realized, wasn’t over. But for the first time, he wasn’t sure he needed to fight it alone.


He pushed open the creaky screen door, a wave of humid night air washing over him. Stepping onto the porch, Norman leaned against the railing, gazing out at the slumbering town below stretched out like a forgotten ashtray, the flickering streetlights casting long, erratic shadows. The streetlights cast a pale glow, illuminating the tidy rows of houses, each one a monument to the quiet desperation of the American dream.

His identity, that carefully constructed edifice, felt flimsy now, as substantial as a dime-store kite caught in a hurricane. It could have been built on shifting sands of insecurity, delusional grandeur, or the lingering anxieties of a childhood humiliation. But to his ego, that blustering, insecure peacock, it had been the Holy Grail, the Rosetta Stone to unlock the universe’s secrets.

The ego, God damn it, had become a malfunctioning word processor, churning out narratives to justify its flimsy existence. It had woven tapestries of bullshit so intricate, so suffocating, that even he, its beleaguered creator, had started to believe them.

He laughed, a dry, humorless chuckle that echoed in the stillness. The ego, a used car salesman peddling a lemon, a carnival barker with a bad toupee flogging the same dusty bag of self-importance. He’d been that barker, hadn’t he  forever hawking the same dusty bag of self-importance. ?

A wry smile tugged at Norman’s lips. The revelation wasn’t comforting, not exactly. But for the first time, he saw the ego for what it was: a desperate salesman, a flickering neon sign illuminating the void. He could choose to dismantle it, brick by self-serving brick, or he could let it continue its blustery charade. A foundation of delusion, childhood traumas buried deeper than last night’s cafeteria mystery meat? The unsettling truth clawed at his throat. The ego, he mused, that monstrous confidence trickster, puffed itself up like a belligerent pigeon, preening and strutting on life’s stage. It was a goddamn word processor gone haywire, spewing out narratives to justify its existence. Years of self-mythology, intricate tapestries of bullshit woven so tightly they’d strangled the truth itself.

But maybe, just maybe, the curtain had finally fallen. Maybe the exposure of his weakness wasn’t a death knell, but a baptism. A chance to strip away the layers of bluster and confront the man beneath. He was still Norman, flaws and all. But maybe, just maybe, that was enough.

The night breeze rustled the leaves of the old oak tree in the front yard, whispering possibilities. A faint light flickered on in his son’s room, a beacon of something genuine, something beyond the ego’s tired carnival pitch. The night air, now felt strangely invigorating. He leaned against the railing, the town lights twinkling like fallen stars. He was a man unmoored, adrift in a sea of uncertainty. But for the first time in a long time, he didn’t feel the need to build a life raft out of lies. Maybe, just maybe, it was time to learn to swim.