Gary and Tina had three ugly kids, a run-down bungalow on the industrial edge of the suburbs, two rusty sedans and no ambition. They'd been married for nearly three decades and the only thing keeping either of them going was each's desire to see the other die first. Gary Fleenor had been the Runner-Up State Spelling Bee Champ in High School, but he'd assumed the title after a scandal rocked the world of competitive letter recitation, connecting the winner, one Margaret Bloom, to both the Yakuza and Archibald Pez, of novelty-candy-dispenser fame. The title had earned Gary the admiration of then-incarcerated Tina Radmonowitz. She was performing community service, collecting trash on the highway median, when she happened across the article that had broken the "Spelldown Snafu" story. It would be eight months before they met in person, but what began was a fiery correspondence built on lies and exaggeration, would gradually blossom into a bitter, stagnant marraige. Derek Fleenor, the first mistake, was good with his hands, or so went the testimony of the five eyewitnesses to his first aggrivated assault. He'd made it through six states before the stolen Chevy he was driving into oncoming traffic siezed up and went into a skid. When he awoke in the prison hospital, he was no longer a biped. It was the subject of much ridicule in the infrequent letters to "ol' one leg." Betty, the only Fleenor who had ever shown promise outside of the world of organized crime, died of Leukemia during a protracted legal battle for the rights to her first novel, "Please God! Kill Me Now." Eventually, the royalties were awarded to Gary and Tina who spent them on huckster balding cures and crack cocaine, respectively. The baby, Vernon, four-and-a-half, had no real concept of the hell he was being raised in. He also knew very little of his older siblings. To him the world consisted of blaring sirens which, when he was lucky, were from the "Real Police Drama" programs his mother watched and the slow, sour smell of unwashed clothing, which made up the bulk of the house's furniture. Eventually he probably grew up to do something undesirable for shit pay, but nobody cares about stories like that, so let's just say he became an astronaut. Vernon Fleenor, the first man on Mars!