Thursday, December 23, 2004


Jessica came over for a night of meat-and-potatoes loving. We poured some bourbons and talked, splitting a cigar as we listened to 1920s jazz.

We stayed up late until all hours, fucking. I stayed on top—“doing all the work,” as she puts it. We slept until one or the other of us started up again. We would go at it until she came, then sleep until the next round. I waited to come until the very last round the next morning.

I made ham and cheese omelets, with onions and coffee. She was happy and laughed often as we talked.

When she left, I found a Christmas gift had been left behind for me.

As Jessica and I slept during that night, I had a dream.

In the dream, we were in my bed, in the dark. Jessica was giving me head.

My teenage daughter Rachel walked into the room. She looked around and left. “Rachel?” I asked, as Jessica sucked me. “What’s up?”

“Nothing,” she said. “I was just looking for a place to sleep.”

“Why aren’t you in your bed?”

“Well . . . ,” Rachel hesitated. I got up to investigate; Jessica followed.

The apartment was filled with people I didn’t recognize. Two pleasant well-dressed elderly women greeted me. There was a mother in panties, nursing a baby, next to a young man with blonde dred locks. Three young women in flowery party dresses were chatting near the dining table. Other folks milled about.

The room was lit by Sterno flames.

“Who are these people?” I asked, as tamped out the Sternos with my hands. “How did they get here?”

“I dunno . . . ,” Rachel mumbled, looking at her feet.

“Rachel,” I said, sternly. The guy with dreds rode past me on a bike. “Did you leave the apartment?”

“Yes,” she sighed in admission. “But only for a little while. I went to the park and I found someone who needed a place to stay, and then someone else, and then these nice ladies . . .”

“Rachel!” I admonished. “You can not bring people home from the park in the middle of the night.”

“I know,” she said. “Sorry.”

I certainly did not want these people in my home. But now that they were here, I felt I had no choice but to feed them.

I took stock of my pantry. I found a bag of frozen ears of corn, a box of mashed potato flakes, ground beef, and other sundries.

In reality, these foodstuffs are never to be found in my kitchen. They were mainstays of my family’s diet when I was a kid. These are the first things I learned to cook.

I started some mashed potatoes, which evolved into a shepherd’s pie, and then was neither mashed potatoes nor a shepherd’s pie. The corn looked fine, but turned mealy as I boiled it. I heard a baby cry, and thought, hurry, they are hungry. My parents were at the table, asking how much longer until dinner?

There was a knock at the door. A man in a trench coat asked my name. I told him my name. He asked me to sign on a dotted line. I signed.

“Sir, you are hereby subpoenaed to appear in court concerning paternity suits filed by two women.”

“TWO women?” I turn to my parents, incredulous. “How many babies are there? One or two?”

“I’m just serving the papers, sir. The information is in these packages.”

He hands me two envelopes, each marked with the name of a plaintiff. I forget the name of one woman.

The other was Cilla Freick.

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