Born Iestin Cody Maelgwyn to a family of Catholics proud of their Welsh heritage, Cody learned to hate this surname that attached him to a family he never understood. At an early age, he had trained his friends to first call him the more English sounding, Justin, before he decided that he preferred Cody. The name Cody came from one of Big Francis’ old cowboy books, and Cody preferred this over the odd sounding Welsh names. By junior high school, nobody ever called him anything but Cody.
To say that Cody was the black sheep of the family is like saying wars are violent. The statement is too obvious, and does not quite capture the reality of the situation. Cody would like to believe that he was the result of a mix-up at the hospital on the day he was born, but he looked too much like his mother, Annie, for that claim to stick. He grew up confused and at odds with the value system of the Maelgwyn household. Big Francis and Annie were strictly Catholic, and forced Cody into all of the institutions of Catholicism, but Cody never bought into religion. He had too many questions at an early age, and his parents’ standard replies of, “Because I said so”, “Because the Bible says so”, or “Just shut up and do it!”, only served to confirm his belief that it was all bullshit.
Cody and Big Francis fought constantly about everything. If it wasn’t about religion, it was about chores, or grades, or what to watch on TV, or the fact that Big Francis was lazy and expected everyone else to take care of him. Annie was the only tempering factor in the Maelgwyn household. If not for her, Cody might have run away long before he did. He loved his mother, even if he saw that her enabling tendencies toward Big Francis only exacerbated the problems in the home.
Sister Sara was another factor that kept Cody at home. With Big Francis’ violent tendencies, Cody could never bear to leave her alone in that house. Sara fought with Francis just as often as Cody, but she never admitted that she hated him. She was daddy’s little girl to the end. She had Annie’s penchant for enabling the men in her life; probably out of fear of not being loved or protected, but she would never see that side of the situation. Cody didn’t care if he was loved or hated; he only needed to be freed from this perceived Hell.
He finally confided in Sara that she was the only reason why he stayed home. Sara only encouraged him to go.
And so he left.