Perez was not a strong child. Because of that, he would slip into the shadows when he was around other children. The one room schoolhouse was a safe place for him, but when the children were dismissed, he was the object of brutality. No one liked a weakling. To be bullied was a shameful thing, something he would not take home to his parents, for his father was a big man, and hard to please.
Perez would sit on his porch whenever there was a challenge in the alleys. The neighborhood boys would throw down their caps, pull off their shoes and socks and run barefoot on the cobblestones, matching their speed and endurance against each other. All the other children would hoot and howl and cheer them on. The winner would earn pats on the back and the loser would be jeered, maybe a stone or two would be thrown. Perez felt sorry for the boys who lost, but he never approached them because to do so would accentuate his own inadequacies.
Perez’ father was a blacksmith who worked for every horse owner in Alisubbo, and sometimes even the king would order his services for his cavalry. Perez would be forced along on those trips and he hated it. He did not like the heat nor the smell of the crucible, the metallic taste that the burning metal would leave in his mouth. He did not like holding a horse’s leg between his knees and scrapping rocks and manure out of the hooves while his father fitted the shoes. Horses terrified him, and yet he could never tell his father, lest he be punished by the heavy hand of his disciplinarian.
His father wanted him to be a blacksmith, but by the time Perez was a teenager, that plan for him was absolved. “He will never carry on my business,” his father told his mother one day. “He’s too weak. He’ll not amount to anything.”
His mother never argued. Instead she worked with Perez and taught him to write and gave him many books to read. So many, that the boy fell in love with the written word, and soon, at the age of 19, began his own newspaper.
His father died soon after, an unhappy man and disappointed in his son. Perez carried that weight on his shoulders for the rest of his life. It is no wonder that he sought approval from the populace who read his papers. When that populace could no longer afford to keep him in business, Perez sought the approval from the one man that promised to keep The Daily Gazette from going broke. A man named Valerio.
Perez would stop at nothing to keep his dream alive.