My Infant Son Doesn’t Spray Devil Red Piss Directly Into My Mouth As Often As I Thought He Would

In the movies it’s constant. Diaper opens, little boy smiles and sprays; father leaps back shocked and damp and together they laugh. But the reality of raising a son is more mundane. Only a handful of times have I unwrapped the flaps and been assaulted by gushes of hot froth into my open eyes. These comic scenes of new fatherhood unfold rarely. Does my son roll back his legs in the bathtub, carefully aim, and pressure-wash my teeth with his evil soda? Of course he does. But this is a four or five times a week event, not a daily one. And does he stand over me while I sleep, hosing me head-to-foot with his vinegar, refusing to stop until I’m nose-deep in his rotten puddle? Yes, but it’s not all the time like on television. This takes place but once per night. The endearing slapstick scenes we see on screen unfortunately do not occur as often as I’d imagined they would. So when my baby boy finds me at the office and pins me down on my desk to waterboard me with his foamy brine while my boss and colleagues cheer over the wall of my cubicle, and I choke and wheeze and cry, fading from consciousness, meeting the Devil as I’m baptized in poison, I savor it. Fatherhood is joyous and invigorating, but the clock ticks. I hold on tight to these charming moments that happen only seven or eight times a day.

Presenting an Opposing Viewpoint

“I understand the board’s proposal to lower the neighborhood speed limit from 25 miles an hour to 20 in order to reduce the risk of harm to our children. However, I would be remiss to ignore this opportunity to suggest an alternative future for our subdivision. Instead of crawling to our homes at 20 while our dinners cool and our loved ones worry, let’s imagine screeching around the entrance sign and gunning past the pool at 95, rocketing with our eyes closed and our hands off the wheel. Tunes blaring, ripping the air guitar, brutally bombarding across yards, all jostle and clunk. Our big, hot tires chew grass, digesting the flower bed where Doug and Christine were wed. We press harder on the gas, to 110, 120, demolishing Heather’s daughter’s swing set as our ribs crack against our steering wheels, our battered bodies laundry-tumbling because we have outlawed seatbelts. We haul ass and surrender control as our vehicles destroy the gazebo where Judy’s son celebrated his high school graduation before donking down the mailbox in which Judy received notice of her son’s death in combat. We fracture our skulls on our windshields and hear our teeth clatter; dice in the cupholders. Screaming for help, yelling in terror as we thunder up the hill, begging for some hero to fire a bullet through our heads and end this hell. Our broken arms cannot wipe the blood off the windshield. With no other option, we stomp the pedal and blindly charge the historic oak in Greg’s front yard where we gathered for Judy’s son’s funeral, our vision blacking out save a pinprick of that maxed-out speedometer and that Airbags Disabled light. And our cars slam into the ancient tree, killing it immediately, and fire our cadavers through our windshields. Gasoline glugs, a spark, inferno engulfs the streets. Our roasted bodies skid across Kelly’s kids’ hopscotch grid while our automobiles roll backwards towards our own homes like dropped bombs. They accelerate, run over our dogs, then goose up our porch steps and shatter our glass doors as the flames reach the tank and detonate our vehicles, blowing up our homes and the family reunions they host. Before we can enjoy the grace of death, possums drag what’s left of us to an evil den in the woods. An air of terror descends on the neighborhood and no one feels safe to go outside, knowing that all of our neighbors are driving in such an unsafe fashion, now that we enforce a mandatory minimum speed of 95 miles an hour.”

The board deliberates for a minute before passing the resolution unanimously.

A Few Rides Left in these Old Dungarees

Tommy stands before his father, lounging in his recliner wearing nothing but blown-out boxer briefs.

“There are a few rides left in these old dungarees,” Peter says. “Don’t believe your mother. Don’t listen to the neighbors. These are still good, these are still ripe, these are sturdy and strong and sound.”

Peter shifts his weight, revealing a constellation of holes and tears, from pinprick nibbles to undeniable grapes.

“These dungarees got me this far, and they got life left in ’em still.”

He writhes to the side and the threadbare fabric rips, exposing more pink-white flesh of his inner thigh. “They’ve seen the world. They’ve seen hell. But they ain’t ready to see the inside of a wastebin.”

He stands and the underwear splits again. He moans, and his penis and scrotum spill through. “They don’t buck like they used to,” he says, “but these dungarees survived combat and they ain’t gonna give out on me now.”

Tommy knows his father has never experienced combat. Tommy can think of no reason for his father’s underwear to be so minced and chewed, like some battlefield flag.

Peter does a jumping jack and his unsupported genitals slap and pull new slits through the cloth. What’s left is a waistband dangling laces, the bones of a picked-apart carcass. “I will not surrender,” Peter huffs through his jumping jacks while the macerated strings bounce. “My dungarees are healthy and vigorous and do not need to be exchanged.”

He slows, breathes heavily, and sits hard in his chair. When he lands, he screams. “Oh,” he wails. “On no, no, no, no.”

Tommy can no longer see his father’s scrotum. “I sat on my nuts,” Peter says. His face goes red, purple. “These old dungarees don’t got no foundation left. No skeleton.” His face grays. “Be good, son. Be good to your momma.”

“Can you get up?” Tommy says. “Mom said she already bought you new underwear.”

“The captain goes down with his dungarees.” Blood comes from his nose, his mouth. A neighbor knocks on the window, peering at Peter’s exposed ass. “Just promise me you’ll play that trumpet when I go. Promise me you’ll send me off right.”

Peter’s body goes limp and he stops breathing.

Tommy picks up his father’s old trumpet, presses it to his lips, and tries to breathe into it, but no sound comes out.