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"Demon Baby" by WaRRen REED

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  • Your Monster of Ceremony
    Warren Reed wrote: Happy Birthday Uncle Rick...a story JUST FOR YOU !!! From: Warren Reed artwarren@yahoo.com ‘Demon Baby’ The
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 31 9:28 AM
      Warren Reed <artwarren@...> wrote: Happy Birthday Uncle Rick...a story JUST FOR YOU !!!
      From: Warren Reed artwarren@...

      ‘Demon Baby’

      The crow landed on the sidewalk in front on Harry Corwin. It would’t shoo away. It kept hopping and flappig to remain just in front of the intrigued but weary Corwin. Was it? Yes, it was. It was looking at him. Into his face. No, he slapped the waxy flesh of his cheeks, pinched his nose. Couldn’t be, but there it was, he felt sure. A warmth in his belly, spreading. Where was science? What happened to reason? This man, nigh an MD, wondered. Funny, was it the cheeseburger revolving in his pit? All he knew was the crow looked sharp at him and then just flew away. Anticlimactic, in a way, after all the heebeejeebie that had filled the back of his head the way adrenaline shoots to the heart. Now, instead of heading over to the DMV to renew his license he was going to put it off for the umpteenth frigging time because he had the strange ache to go back to the hospital to see Mary Jones. It was an urge he just couldn’t refuse.
      Back so soon? Said the nurse, a crass woman in her forties who’d seen it all. She didn’t have to brag, it was written in the lines of love and terror that crissed her Oil of Olay face. Ha, wrinkle free.
      Yeah, he mumbles. I need to see Mary Jones.
      Mary Jones? A look of whatever from the woman who’d seen it all. Pretty much all of it, anyway. Why? She can’t help but ask.
      I don’t know exactly. He looked like a lamppost that suddenly finds itself in the middle of a forest in a magic closet. I think I’m supposed to tell her something.
      “What?” said the nurse. The guy’s flipping his lid, if she’s seen it once… But it beats staring at the clock to quiz the soon to be pompous fuck MD.
      “Her boy is coming for her.”
      “What?” She loved the sarcastic whine, a la Roseanne Barr she managed to inflect. “She doesn’t have any kids. I know her case like my ass, kid. She was one of my first patients, like twenty years ago.”
      “No kids.” The lamppost dims a bit at this.
      “Who has no kids?”
      “Mary Jones.’
      “Good question, doc.” What fun, she hoped it jinxed the hopefuls. “You said you to see her.”
      The lamp craned its head left and right. Did it just see a fawn trotting by? Harry Corwin belched. Man, those stinking heart stoppers from Moe’s. As a doc he’d be obliged, behooved, even, to stop eating such awful crap. “Why would I do that? She’s not even my patient.” As he says it the whole conversation begins to slide out his mind like fresh catch on a pier, slip over the side and back into the water leaving a damp spot that will evaporate.
      “You’ve been working to hard. Get home and get some sleep before you think of stepping foot back in here. All we need is another loony med student.” She had something of the drill sergeant, of St. Peter about her that left no room for the inkling of argument.
      “yes,” he said, as though it were the best idea in decades. “I’ll do that.”
      ‘take some pills.”
      “got any to spare?”
      Harry Corwin returned to his life, to his car, to his expired driver’s license.
      The nurse, Carla Philpot, returned to her romance novel. More wackos outside than in, she mumbled. Then, “Mary, guess you were right.” She glanced at the shadow corner of the waiting room. Invisible to all but the duty nurse, the slippers curled with the toes inside.
      “Of course I am. Nobody ever believes me, but they will.” Mary sighed happily as she stepped into the waiting room. Her hair was combed earlier in the day, but now stood about her head as though each hair had its own mind and was going to do its own thing. Mary was afraid of plasma balls, but looked as though she had one concealed in her robe.
      “Demon baby, huh?” Carla ran her tongue along her teeth and grunted.
      “that’s right,” said Mary, smiling. She fingered the inverted cross tattooed on her wrist.
      “Well,” said the nurse, who’d seen this one a dozen times before, at least, “I look forward to meeting him. A bona-fide real, honest to goodness Demon baby.”
      “He won’t be a baby anymore, Carla. He’ll be grown and oh so handsome.”
      “That right?”
      “That’s right. He’ll look just like me when I was beautiful, once I was. And such powers as you had shall never beforeth seen again wilt be upon us.”
      “And him shall I serve.”
      “That so?”
      Mary whispered away as she always did, retreating to the shadows like a shadow herself. No harm in her ever, just the old brain pan was full of shit.

      Part 2
      Janet looked at him like he was crazy. “I thought you didn’t care who she was.”
      He shrugged. “I know, but, well…” How do you explain to your mother that all the declarations about not giving a hoot for your birth mother was all part of personal propaganda. Part sour grapes, given the difficulty of trakcing her down, and part bluster. How dare anyone not want to keep me?
      She sipped her coffee, brown eyes filling with the sun lifting above the ragged cornfield. Farm country. As if that were an escape in this shrinking world. How lnad had he been looking for her? How long had he been lying about it?
      “Mom,” he began, awkward, fiddling with his watch. “I love you. You are my mom. I only, it’s just…”
      She smiled at his porr attempt to protect, too late, her feelings. “You don’t have to tell me, buster.”
      He sat next to her at the breakfast nook. “Come in, mom.”
      “When did you find out where she is?”
      “Two months ago.”
      “So what, you couldn’t make up your mind? Didn’t have the cash?”
      He’d shelved the envelope after it had sat for two weeks on his coffee table. Pandora’s box, maybe. Knowledge changed you. Like when he’d discovered his medical records when they moved out here to Illinois. Somewhere between Millstadt and Mascoutah he’d learned the truth behind the odd scar on his forearm, left. He’ hadn’t been burned by an overturned frydaddy. A tattoo had been removed. An inverted cross—he saw the Polaroid escape the folder and whisk itself under the Uhaul while his mom gassed up at an Exxon.
      “Finally found your file, huh?”
      “Is that normal? I mean, did Joey dig around?”
      “All kids and I do mean all kdis, snoop around. They’re curious.”\
      he slipped the cracked and faded Polaroid into the folder and handed it to her.
      “Keep it, son. It’s about you, after all.”
      “You mean, keep it, Ba’alzar.” He couldn’t keep the straight face.
      “What the hell was she thinking?”
      “Not bad,” he said. “Could take Balz as a nick name. Woulda been cool in high school.”
      The file ended up in the same box as the junior high year books, term papers and other texts that might one day find a second purpose.
      “When are you going?” she said smiling just enough to show she didn’t mind because after all it was his genetics, his right. But not too much of a smile because then he’d see through the camouflage and know she was hurt by the desire to see her. Need, was it a need? What need was it? There was no bond, but genetics. Fine, blood. But this is not the same blood as what they’d spilled together in teers or skimmed tire changing knuckles. There’s blood and then there’s blood, dammit.
      “flying out this afternoon.”
      “I just don’t have but a little time to take off work.” Yes it was expensive, and sounded fancier than the price of the ticket would indicate.
      She gazed out the kitchen window again. Dawn was in full swing, the grasshopper green leaves all stiff and lurking like patient Triffids. She loved that feeling, all that plant life surrounding the house, defining her space. She hated crowds of people but crowds of plants were a different story. If only there were a jungle nearby.
      “It’s just a couple days, mom.”
      “Look at my face.” She looked into his puzzled, wary eyes. “Did you see that?” She said. A tear dribbled onto her lid. She turned away, pretended to sneeze, wiped the tear.
      “What was I supposed to see
      She dumped her coffee dregs into the sink. “Me,” she egan, voice strained. She was going to do her best, when the moment came, to be supportive. Hell, she was supportive, but she wasn’t going to just sit there and take it. “Trying to not bring up the fact that you missed your father’s funeral because you couldn’t fly.”
      “Not fair, mom,” he said, flinching. “I didn’t have the money.”
      “They let you fly for free.” She said, rolling out the well-worn script.
      “That’s grotesque. I couldn’t have even asked for that. I couldn’t even tell my friends. I couldn’t say the words.”
      She felt tired and defeated. Life was like that, steamrollering a body, scraping it up and depositing it farther down the line for another flattening. “So you understand me.”
      “Yes,” he’d asked if he was adopted—a red-headed kid from dark-haired parents of Greek descent. He asked, albeit in a clumsy, seventh-graderish way, she choked on her tongue whle running upstairs. He understood her perfectly on some things.
      She was surprisingly relieved not to relive that old cat fight which always ended in two weeks’ silent treatment. “Shall I drive you to the airport?” It was a heavily loaded yet unavoidable question in polite society. She asked to make the appearance of compromise. If he accepted it it would read like a man spurning the woman who gave her all for him in favor of the woman who had simply given him life. Fine, it wasn’t so simple. But nine months versus twenty-three years: who should win? Who would win?
      The universe remained in balance because he told her that “Jenny’s going to drive me. Thanks, though.”
      He didn’t need her. Jenny gave what she couldn’t, and the new/old mom, what would she give that could top life? Surely not an identity. What? A past? A heritage? What kind of a tie was genetics anyway?
      “I’m only offering.”
      “I know, mom.”
      “If you need me, I’m here.”
      “I love you, mom.”
      “Of course you do.” They laughed.
      “Is there anything I should know?”
      “Is there anything I should?”
      “Did you know she was in a nuthouse?”
      “What a horrible way to put it.”
      “Loony bin. Bedlam. Okay, Mental institution.”
      “Would it matter?”
      “Why is every discussion turned into some kind of old el paso doble/”
      “More fun that way.”
      “Doesn’t matter. Just, as you say, curious.”
      “I knew.”
      “You weren’t worried?”
      “Last I heard nuttiness wasn’t catching. Look at Hitler’s kids.”
      “Hitler had kids?”
      “See what I mean?”
      “Don’t worry. You’ll always be the only mother I ever had.”
      “Not worried. Just worried about your expectations.”
      “Well, I don’t understand either. Let’s call it my Hillary complex.”
      “Your what?”
      “Sir Edmund Hillary. Climbed Everest because it was there.”
      “I though he climbed it because it was in his way. Anyway, she’s no mountain.”
      “I just want a face, a little tiny piece of knowledge about my origins.’
      “You’re not like volume two of the History of Rome.” Why were origins so important. Origins were a source of great trouble. Just ask the Kansas school board.

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