by Stephen Baily
Through the open window above the tub, an outcry reaches us from the world. I sink my battleship, but it pops right back up to the surface. More shouts follow.
“What’s wrong, I wonder?”
Scooping me from the water into a towel, my mother carries me into the living room, where, in the strong breeze from the standing fan, my father’s drawers are flapping on his backside. Behind him, as he leans over the radio, my brother, in his soaked diaper, is scattering the alphabet over the carpet.
Of the five windows in our four rooms, only one faces the street, and he lifts me high up over its sill. Eight floors below, people are scurrying to the curbs from all points of the compass. What they’re craning their heads toward I can’t see, but I shrink from the drumming as it gets louder and louder. In the tall red buildings across from us, hands are waving from every window. It’s snowing, though it’s ninety degrees and there aren’t any clouds.
“Bring me some toilet paper.”
With my brother on her hip, she comes back with a roll, and he stuffs my fists with torn-off strips.
“Izzie, for God’s sake, put him down.”
Ignoring her plea, he thrusts me out over the neighborhood, and I’m moved to make my first—and last—public address:
“Ladies and gentlemen, take my advice, pull down your panties and slide on the—no, that’s not what I wanted to say, what I wanted to say was, ladies and gentlemen, hobos and tramps! I come before you to stand behind you to tell you I can’t begin to tell you what an honor it is to join you today. When I think of the infinite number of moments contained in eternity, how can I be otherwise than thrilled that the gods—supposing they’re shameless enough to remain in existence—have chosen this particular one for my debut? Oh, it makes my heart thump louder than the Police Athletic League band! Rumpty-tump-tump-tump-tumpty! But please—don’t let me distract you from getting pie-eyed and groping each other over the happy conclusion of hostilities that have killed a hundred million of us, give or take twenty-five million. For my part, in the glorious years to come, I swear I’ll do my best to uphold the reputation of our species and, in the meantime, on with the parade!”
Stephen Baily is the author of two novels, nine plays, and stories that have appeared in Words Paint Pictures, Thick Jam, Perspective Literary Magazine, Livid Squid, Fuck Fiction, Blue Monday Review, Hack Writers, Pavilion, Atticus Review, Squawk Back, and other journals. His novel “Markus Klyner, MD, FBI” is available as a Kindle e-book.