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I Have His Genes But Not His Genius


I Have His Genes But Not His Genius It's Christmas Eve 2040, and I'm the only bartender still working that afternoon, and the house is practically empty. I see this guy down at the en

d of the bar, sitting by himself. I bring him a fresh drink, and wish him greetings of the season. He looks at me, sort of funny, and says: "Do you know who I am?" I admit I don't. "Here, maybe this will help," he says, and he pulls a little picture out of his wallet. An old portrait, really old, like centuries old. It's a young man in profile: sharp nose, weak chin, definite resemblance to my friend here. At the bottom, there's a caption: "W. A. Mozart."

Now it's my turn to look at him funny. Then it hits me like a brick. "You're that clone guy," I say. "The guy in the papers back in the '20s."

"In the flesh. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. I have his brain, his heart, his DNA. He's my father and my mother and my brother. He's my identical twin, except I was born 247 years later."

So he starts talking. It takes him a long time to explain, and I didn't get it all, but I got a lot. In 2001, Congress passed a ban on cloning humans, but of course mad scientists went ahead with secret cloning.

And then, there was this software billionaire who was nuts about Mozart, and was especially nuts about Mozart's Requiem. He set up a secret institute in Switzerland and hired some top biologists and told them they'd get $1 million each for every baby they cloned from Mozart's DNA.

In 2003, the institute managed to bring four babies to term. Two died shortly after birth. Two survived. But then this software billionaire died, and his company collapsed, and so did his cloning institute. One baby Mozart was put up for adoption anonymously. No one knows what happened to that one. The other baby was adopted by one of the scientists, who was a big Mozart fan herself.

"And that's me," he says.

His mother, of course, didn't tell him or anyone else who he was, but she told the boy how special he was, how he was a genius, what a great composer he could be, trying to push her little Mozart toward music.

But the 2010s weren't the 1760s. The boy may have had talent, but he also had his own priorities, and they didn't include violin sonatas. He liked rock music and he liked it loud, and then as he got older he liked beer and girls. The harder his mother pushed him to be a great composer, the less he wanted to be one. After a while his mother gave up. By the time he was 20, he had a decent job working in a frame shop. And that's when the roof fell in. Some reporter got wind of the institute and the cloning experiment and tracked him down. But no one could prove he was a clone of Mozart without digging up the original, so the media treated him as a joke. It just crushed him. He tried running away. He joined a Buddhist monastery in Japan. One day, while he was there, he heard the Requiem. Not for the first time, but this time it was different. "My God, it was beautiful!" he says. "I felt a realization explode inside my head. I just felt it somehow: It rang inside of me. I'd finish it, or die trying." He knew that if he could finish the Requiem, he'd be famous for real, a genius instead of a fool. He immersed himself in Mozart's music. Nights, weekends, all the time, he drove himself, working on the Requiem. "And? What happened?" "I turned 37 four months ago. I've been working on the Requiem for 15 years. Mozart died when he was 35. I should have finished the Requiem two years ago." "And you haven't." He looks at me for a while and shakes his head, "You don't understand. I have his genes but not his genius." And with that he drops a tip on the bar and is gone. I never saw him again. If the Requiem was ever finished, I never heard about it.


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