Ten Facts About Merric Deforge
1. Merric's childhood was as rough as they come.
It's true. From birth, Merric's had it hard. He was born two months premature in the 1970's and was very lucky he didn't die before his first birthday. Doctors thought he'd never make it past the age of three. He made it, but at four he started to suffer from night terrors he would eventually have to accept as just being part of his life. But to try and deal with it back then, his parents took him - not to a pediatrician or a child psychologist or a sleep specialist - to a priest. Because they were very Catholic and it seemed appropriate to them. And what went on between Merric and the Father stayed behind closed doors until the time Merric was 17, when he stabbed the priest through the penis with the sharp end of a rosary.
2. Almost everyone he's ever known is dead.
Merric witnessed his father's murder happen right in front of him, and watched him die before the ambulance arrived on the scene. His mother died in his early twenties a day before his flight to back home to see her in the hospital arrived in Boston. Merric was married for a whole year when his wife, Toah, was killed in a fire that Merric himself barely made it out of alive. Few years after that, his brother and sister-in-law were killed in their own home.
Merric's last living relative (outside of some distant relations who live in Italy and have only met him a few times if at all) is his brother's daughter, Marlow, who Merric adopted after her parents were killed when she was seven.
3. He teaches history at Harvard.
It's not exaggerating to say that Merric possesses genius level IQ. He's a very intelligent person, well-read and highly educated. So it's no surprise to anyone who knows him that he teaches at one of the best universities in the country. Merric's knowledge of human history is expansive, but he specializes mostly in the history of warfare and is preoccupied mostly in the World War I and II eras.
Though his classes are notoriously difficult, he's still quite popular among the student body, and no one will ever forget the day that Professor Deforge rode his motorcycle through the grounds screaming happily that he just got tenure, and now he could do anything he wanted. (Turned out that riding a motorcycle over the Harvard grounds was not something tenure allowed him to do after all - as the Dean later explained rather angrily.)
4. Dogs terrify him.
Big or small, Merric is scared to death of all dogs. We're all sure it must have something to do with that time when he was six years old and was attacked by a neighborhood dog who had broken off its chain. Ever since then, even chihuahuas have made him uneasy.
He doesn't dislike animals, though. He owns a cat who he has owned since it was still quite small, a frumpy Persian kitten that started following Merric home down the sidewalk. In the rain. Meowing hungrily. Crying up at him as he walked hastily with an umbrella and a brown bag of groceries. Because Merric (like me) has SUCKER written on his forehead that only stray cats can see, he took the kitten home immediately. And named it Karl Marx. Cuz he thought it looked like the father of Communism.
5. The man comes with some serious baggage.
Though he's pretty much quit taking them altogether lately, Merric has a lot of different prescriptions for pretty much any psychological problem available, from anxiety to post traumatic stress to paranoid schizophrenia. This comes from seeing a number of different shrinks and getting a full range of different possible illnesses he was diagnosed with.
Merric doesn't feel like he's any of those things, but he's not about to kid himself that he might have some unresolved issues coming back to haunt him now that his life is a bit more stable and no one's died lately. But remarkably, when he'd finally become sick and tired of quack psychiatrists and distracted psychologists, Merric went someplace even he thought he'd never go back to. Church.
6. Old Catholic habits die hard. Very, very hard.
Merric is a Catholic in the same way he says he's Italian - like it's more of a by-blood thing than it is a religious issue. It's how he was raised. Now he thinks all of it is bullshit, of course, but that still doesn't stop him from doing things that are so regimented in his life that he can't avoid it at all. Like Lent. And confession. But even if the old rituals are embedded permanently into Merric's habits, he's not actually a Catholic anymore - he's more than a non-practising Catholic, as well. He's Atheist, he doesn't believe in any sort of divine power, intelligent or otherwise.
Whether it's bitterness with God he gained from deeds done to him by the hands of a man who was supposed to be in the service of mankind's ultimate protector, or if it was just the cynical practicality achieved through years of hard research and continued education, Merric lost all ability to maintain in God and all other divine beliefs so gradually over his life that he didn't even really notice it until he was 32 years old. He was standing in line at a grocery store and staring at a tiny manger scene on a magnet, surrounded by Christmas decorations and music and a nine-year-old Marlow doing pop-wheelies with the shopping cart in front of him when he just went "...pffft."
7. Merric is a master piano player.
It was something he learned from his mother, who learned from her mother, but since she never had a daughter decided the piano might rather be good to teach her eldest son because he had noteworthy rage issues he was dealing with even at an early age. She taught Merric to play the piano whenever he was frustrated or angry. Needless to say, Merric played a LOT of piano growing up.
Though he still plays, and enjoys it very much, it's not something he's able to do as often as he'd like anymore, because of his hands. Which reminds me...
8. ...he's also a hemophiliac.
It means his blood doesn't clot, and therefore bleeding becomes difficult to stop when it happens. It's a genetically inherited condition that, with the right treatment, can go by practically unnoticed, but only with constant treament. And that depends on the severity of the case. But Merric, who was never born physically all that strong to begin with, has noticed it getting worse as he gets older, which is to be expected, he must suppose, at 38.
The worst it causes him is sore, achey joints, specifcally his hands and knees, as blood pours into the spaces between the joints and separates them, causing them to swell and hurt. On these days you'll see Merric with his cane, and with his cane come out the Dr. House impressions - naturally.
Treatment involves attaching himself to an IV three times a week to inject a human clotting factor into his bloodstream. He's been doing it at home since he was 12. He's been doing it himself since he was 16.
9. There are only 2 people in the world that he loves.
His niece, Marlow, and his girlfriend, Munira.
Merric adopted Marlow when she was seven years old, after her parents were murdered by a man who broke into their house and tortured them for three days before killing her mother and father right before her eyes. It took some time before Marlow got past the trauma enough to come back out of her shell, but there was no one better to take her in after something like that than her uncle, who's had his own share of horrible stuff happen to him. The relationship between Merric and Marlow less resembles a parental influence, and they get on more like best friends. As Merric always puts it, Marlow is his "favorite tax deduction."
Munira and Merric have known each other since their high school days, and she was best friends with the woman Merric ended up marrying years later. After Toah died, Munira kept an obnoxiously close eye on Merric, keeping him company and dragging him to all kinds of events just to keep his mind off the fact he was a widow. Though he is certain he'll never want to go to another gemstone symposium again, he appreciated all the trouble she went through for him and eventually they began to see each other more intimately.
10. And then there's the whole Sansifer business...
Merric saw Sansifer the first time back when Toah died in a fire (they were sneaking into an abandonned building because she thought it would be "fun.") He wasn't conscious when he saw the death incarnate, but he never was able to convince himself it wasn't real. For years ever since then Merric often feels like death is at his back; goosebumps, chills, and strange shadows looming in his peripheral vision. Seeing things that aren't really there are a sign of a crazy person, and yet no shrink was ever able to help him understand what was wrong with him. In all fairness, no shrink could have ever made the right call in his case.
What Merric never knew that whole time was that Sansifer was keeping a watchful eye over him ever since he cheated death back in that fire. Sansifer allowed him to come out of that place alive, and always had more intended for the man after that. When Merric's death does come to him, Sansifer reveals a great deal more to him than he can take in all at once - however, ultimately Merric listens to what Death has to ask of him, and in exchange for the body that ties him to the physical plane (something Sansifer does not have), he strikes a deal with Death to return to his body with Sansifer along with him and go back to set some things straight in the world he left behind.