jack loscutoff
sage in bloom

Yes, Sir, That's My Baby

I am riding with Papa Hemingway in a beat-up, open convertible. Between us on the cracked brown vinyl seat lies a naked baby.

The big man stops in front of a house on the beach. He leaves the engine running and steps out. He lumbers up to the house. The screen door bangs behind him.

The sun is hot. The baby whimpers. I pick the kid up, swing the long, heavy door out, step out and let it swing back. The car rolls forward a few feet, stops, rolls backward and stops again. I walk up to the house and knock on the screen door. I smell cigar smoke.

From the cool darkness, a large black woman in a housedress with a big, bright, flower print appears behind the screen.

She lowers a twisted black cheroot from her mouth. "What you want?"

"I want to see Papa. This is his baby."

"Papa's baby? That ugly kid? Look more like you."

The child smiles up at me. It is ugly, but its smile touches my heart.

"Anyhow, that baby only sixteen month old. Papa move out long time ago. Left no forwarding."

"Moved? I just saw him walk through this door."

My hand under the infant's naked butt feels something poking out. I turn the baby over. It is trusting and would be easy to hurt. Its tailbone, instead of curving forward and in, points back and out. A few black hairs surround a puckered brown anus. I see no genitals.

"I don't care what you saw. You crazy. Papa gone. You go away too." Her thick black hand jams the cheroot back into her mouth and slams the inside door shut.

I'm left alone in the hot sun with a magic convertible and a peculiar baby.