Memories of the Mansion

The position of lead baker had been entrusted to the Becker family for generations. Aside from the trade of baking there were other things that were passed from father to son. The first was a dreadful fear of fire which was entirely incompatible with the family profession. The second was a cure for that fear which changed each young Becker irrevocably.

The cure involved a large door nail forged to specific dimensions passed down from untold generations. The young Becker was strapped to a table and the nail was driven through the screaming child's chest. The nail would come in contact with the heart's wall, but not penetrate it. The end result was two-fold. The process cured the Becker of his hereditary fear of fire by making him invulnerable to it. It also caused a peculiar walk in a way specific to the family. The upper body was hunched over so that the nail would not go through the heart.

The newest heir to the Becker lineage was my age when I lived at the mansion. His fragile condition, hunched walk and rather unfortunate face made him the target of much ridicule from the other children. I must confess to joining in with the others on occasion, but I also remember watching in awe as he entertained the kitchen staff by allowing the cooking flames to dance on his hands, cleaning off the animal fat that had collected there.