"You've got to have love," he said. "There's no other reason for living. Men are no different from mice. They're born to perform the same function. Procreate."
He went on, "That has been my main trouble. My inability to love anyone." He stood there as though hunting something - cigarettes were found; inhaling, he slumped on the pallet bed. "I can't. Love anyone. I can't trust anyone enough to give myself to them. But I'm ready. I want it. And I may, I'm almost on the point, I've really got to ..." His eyes narrowed, but his tone, far from being intense, was indifferent. "Because - well, what else is there?"
Though born in Nebraska, where his father was a salesman of limestone products, Brando, the family's third child and only son, was soon taken to live in Libertyville, Illinois. There the Brandos settled down in a rambling house. Milking the cow was the daily chore that belonged to Bud, as Marlon was then nicknamed. Bud seems to have been an extroverted and competitive boy. Rebellious, too; rain or shine, he ran away from home every Sunday. But he and his sisters were devotedly close to their mother. Always, Mrs Brando had played leads in local dramatic productions, and always she had longed for a more brightly foot-lighted world. Her son, talked out of some early clerical ambitions and rejected for military service in 1942 because of a trick knee, packed up and came to New York. Whereupon Bud, the plump, towheaded, unhappy adolescent, exits, and the man-sized and very gifted Marlon emerges.
Brando has not forgotten Bud. When he speaks of the boy he was, the boy seems to inhabit him. "My mother was everything to me. I used to come home from school ..." He hesitated, as though waiting for me to picture him scuffling along an afternoon street. "There wouldn't be anybody home. Nothing in the icebox." Lantern slides: empty rooms, a kitchen. "Then the telephone would ring. Some bar. 'We've got a lady down here. You better come get her.'" The image leaped forward in time. Bud is 18, and: "I thought if she loved me enough, trusted me enough, we'll live together and I'll take care of her. Once, later on, that really happened. She left my father and came to live with me in New York, when I was in a play. I tried so hard. But my love wasn't enough. She couldn't care enough. She went back. And one day" - his voice grew flatter, yet the emotional pitch ascended - "I didn't care any more. She was there. In a room. Holding on to me. And I let her fall. Because I couldn't take it any more - watch her breaking apart, like a piece of porcelain. I stepped right over her. I walked right out. Since then, I've been indifferent."
The telephone's racket seemed to rouse him from a daze. He walked me to the door. "Well, sayonara," he mockingly bade me. "Tell them at the desk to get you a taxi." Then, as I walked down the corridor, he called, "And listen! Don't pay too much attention to what I say. I don't always feel the same way."
This essay is from Truman Capote's Portraits and Observations