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"Mean Blood"


–-from The Southeast Review
--finalist for Southeast Review's World's Best Short Short Story Contest

My wife wants a baby. She says twins run in her family, and that her gynecologist says she has a perfect uterus, but deep down I’m crossing my fingers that she’s barren. I read somewhere that a woman’s eggs start rotting when she turns thirty-five, and since my wife is already thirty-seven, I figure it’ll only be a few more years before her uterus is completely uninhabitable. Just in case, each morning before she leaves for work, I crush a birth control pill into a fine white powder and sprinkle it into her coffee. I changed from boxers to briefs, and I even started eating at Church’s Chicken once a week after I heard a rumor that the owner of Church’s was a member of the Ku Klux Klan, and that he secretly laced the chicken with saltpeter in hopes of making black men sterile.

Each night, my wife slips into a skimpy little outfit she’s bought from Victoria’s Secret, her face painted like some cheap Mexican whore. She swivels her bony, narrow hips back and forth, pressing my face between her perky, non-lactating breasts. She even bought a stack of pornos from the ratty little sex shop down the street, but nothing she does can raise my lazy libido from the dead.

When I tell her I’d rather have a rectal exam from a doctor with ten thumbs than have some screaming bloody fetus crawl out of her uterus, she sits at the end of the bed and pouts, the edges of her thin lips sagging like a C-section scar.

“Aren’t there enough goddamn people clogging up the planet already?” I ask. “It seems like I spend half my life looking for a parking spot at the mall. When deer begin overpopulating forests, the Department of Wildlife kills off the herds to control the increasing numbers. Maybe we could start doing the same thing with humans.” I smile and tell her I think I could justify killing off a few hundred complete strangers if I knew it would cut my commute time down to thirty minutes.

My wife says I don’t want a baby because I’m scared it will turn out like my dope-addict father, who’s spent half his life rotting in prison. She says I have all my mother’s genes, and that I don’t have a violent bone in my body, but sometimes, I swear, I can almost feel my father’s meanness crawling through my blood.

Today, after she leaves for her friend’s baby shower, I nuke a frozen dinner in the microwave. I set the timer for five minutes, stand on my tiptoes and press my crotch against the warm glow of the glass window. As the microwave hums like an electric chair, I think of all of those sperm clumped together like inmates on Death Row. And I can’t help but smile, imagining them sizzle inside me, as one by one, they die their own quick little deaths.

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