Monday, February 18, 2013

Where Babies Come From by G. Arthur Brown

I want to kill this baby, but I’m in the middle of making spaghetti sauce and I really feel the need to get it right this time. Earlier in the week I’d attempted spaghetti sauce, but the failure was so miserable that I pretended it was chili.

Another failed attempt could spell the end of my self-esteem. It’s been a hard couple months.

The baby’s mother doesn’t understand. She gets her sauces out of a can or a jar. She doesn’t think we need to kill the baby. I’ve explained it to her. She nods but then a few minutes later she asks, “Do we have to do this?”

The phone rings. I answer it. “Mr. Thusandso? The pictures of your child are ready.”

“I don’t recall taking photos to be developed.”

“Well, they are here. You should come get them.”

I hang up and tell the baby’s mother I need to run down to the photo lab. I explain how she must stir the sauce every fifteen seconds with the wooden spoon. She doesn’t want to do it. “You don’t want to do anything, do you?” I say. “Back in 5 minutes.”

The photo lab is operating out of the back of a Winnebago. I hadn’t noticed that before. I knock on the flimsy, aluminum door. It creeks open to reveal the startlingly aged faced of a female photo developer. “Come inside,” the old woman tells me. The chemicals have made her even more prune-like.

The interior is decorated like a palm reader was the prior occupant. The lamps have beaded fringe, the lighting is dim, there’s an icon of a saint with four hands, palms facing front. That kind of thing.

“Sit at the table,” she tells me, calling from the kitchen area. I sit. It’s a small, round, wooden table, like a fortune teller might use. She strides in, her shawl waving wildly about her. She tosses a packet of photos onto the table. “Seventy-five bucks,” she says.

I open the packet and examine the photos within. They are of a teen boy, his Bar Mitzah. From the looks of the clothes, this happened some time in the 1970s. “I have a daughter. She’s still an infant. And we are Roman Catholic.”

“Oh, some people are very picky,” she says. I feel uncomfortable not taking the photos. She has clearly gone to a lot of trouble, making a dark room in an RV bathroom sink. I hand her an eighty dollar bill. “Keep the change,” I say.

When I get back to the apartment I show the pictures to the baby’s mother. “Oh, this might be the future! Do we have to kill the baby?”

I explain again that the baby is a girl, but she shakes her head and rebuts, “What about the semen?”

I don’t know what to tell her. I had noticed something strange about the baby. It happened the day before. The baby was crying. The teardrops were too thick and cloudy to be normal tears. She was leaking seminal fluid, impregnating herself. They won’t let us spay her until she’s six months old.  I fear that she’ll birth a litter of subbabies, and I’ll have absolutely no time to make spaghetti sauce. And, on principle, we just can’t have that kind of thing going on in this day and age. Bisexualism is only suited to the invertebrates, a relatively well-known scientist told me once.

“She’s still a girl,” I say, but the baby’s mother doesn’t listen. “We are also not Jewish,” I point out. “These photos look like they are someone else’s past, not our future.”

The baby is crying. And I notice that the sauce is burning. The baby’s mother has been stirring the sauce every twenty to twenty-two seconds.

I huff. The day is not starting out how I envisioned it. Now the baby’s mother is crying.  She picks up the baby and shushes her. “Okay, okay,” I tell her. “We can kill the baby tomorrow.” 

Copyright 2013 G. Arthur Brown

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