“It’s like a crack baby going through withdrawals,” I say.
“When have you ever even seen a crack baby?” Sheila’s mom asks, her face a mash up of Queen Elizabeth and the guts of a Honey Bucket.
“I haven’t. I’m just saying.”
“Well, don’t. Just shut. Your. Pie Hole. For once. ”
The baby is nearly a toddler now.
He teethes on our cat’s metal water dish.
Aspirins are his favorite candy.
In the growing process he’s sprouted extra appendages. With his third thumb, he gouges a neighbor kid’s eye out. The next week he kicks a girl from a jungle gym. Then he mows down another with his trike. When I try to speak to him using my adult voice, he gurgles and grins.
Sheila blames me. She says these are the kinds of things that happen when you have a predilection for violent cinema, when you expose an infant to movie fare such as “Scarface” and “Reservoir Dogs.”
Sheila and I have been split for a few years. We loathe each other, yet appear friendly.
That doesn’t matter.
The kid is a bug collector. His favorite part is stabbing them through the thorax with a stickpin.
Later he moves onto bigger things—rodents and strays, then runaways.
Most mornings I wake to my son’s banshee shrieking, yet I never check on him anymore because I did that once.
He brings his girlfriend by. She’s a blistered bowl of a girl, pale and plump yet subliminally vicious.
He watches to see if I’ll be fooled.
Asps are woven into the seams of her neck fat. She cups a curling iron in her palm. On the way out, she stabs me in the chest and makes for my groin but pulls back at the last minute.
“Yo, Gramps,” she says, “reflexes need work.”
DEVILS GIRL is tattooed across her fingers.
Now the kid is just about a man.
He’s all business, is part of a gang, actually runs the show.
He picks me up in a low slung Pontiac Catalina.
“Get in,” he tells me.
Two grease balls in the back shift in their seats. One of them has a cord wrapped so tight around his wrist that the skin is sour milk white. The other has two sets of brass knuckles.
I have a bad feeling about this. I’m thinking Luca Brasi treatment here, straight out of “The Godfather,” the old stab and strangle trick with some fists thrown in for good measure.
“Son,” I say, but he holds up a lit cigarette to stop me. “Call me Mr. Pink,” he says.
The Hudson River is just a few blocks east. I know what goes in there. I’ve seen that movie.
When I jump out of the car, I hear my boy scream, “Are you nuts?” and I think how that’s a fair question.
Len Kuntz lives on a lake in rural Washington State with an eagle and three pesky beavers. His fiction appears in over twenty lit journals and can also be found at lenkuntz.blogspot.com