From the moment they cut the cord Joel was considered 'special' in certain ways. He had 'abilities' of which he was unaware. The adults knew there was something different about the boy. Joel's paternal grandmother bought him a pack of Tarot cards. Before long he was giving readings to an assortment of aunts, and eventually a few uncles. Joel seemed to have a lot of aunts and uncles.
The adults took the readings far more seriously than Joel himself, he just thought it a party trick and never really believed any of what he said. In general he rarely even remembered what he had told during a reading. It was as though it was Joel's alter ego performing the readings and he wasn't privy to that information. The readings were rattled off in a bored monotone, Joel had better things to do at that age. Perhaps that was why he didn't remember them. It wasn't just the cards that led to the special label though. Joel was particularly fond of myths and legends. He always believed them to be true, just distorted over a period of time, similarly to Chinese whispers.
His favourite place to play was among the dunes of a sandy beach, where he could gaze longingly out over the sea. At low tide Joel and his friends would scour the water-line to see what the parting tide left behind. Mermaids purses, cuttlefish-bones, a huge variety of seaweeds, and driftwood of all shapes and sizes. Some small, others whole tree-trunks. There was always something even if it was just the fine powdery sand. He watched it through sunlight as he let it slip between his fingers.
Sand through a microscope
Like his friends, Joel loved slap-stick on the television. There was just the one television though and Joel didn't really get to choose what to watch. His father certainly had no time for the 'custard pie in the face' antics which Joel found particularly funny. It irked a little that the custard seemed to be more like cream, or shaving foam, and it wasn't even a pie, more a flan. This was typical of Joel's train of thought and as with the myths and legends he wanted to know what it was all about. Joel looked up 'Flaneurs' and found they originated in Belgium and were hecklers, the pies were indeed custard and they ate them if they found no reason to throw them at a speaker. "Why do I even need to know these things?!"
By 14 years old Joel hated reading Tarot cards for people, why did they take it so seriously? The last straw was when he overheard two 'aunts' for whom his mother insisted he do readings.
"Everything he said was right" said one.
"Yes" agreed the other "There is something strange about the boy"
Strange and weird became adjectives Joel was all too familiar with as a kid, it was something that would never go away.