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Nativity

By Chancho Cox
Published in ART TIMES December 2014

MARY SCRUBBED CROCKERY in the kitchen, as the first wave — green yellow brown — rolled through her guts. She dropped a saucer and a chipped cup. Fat Daddy lay perched in a rust red recliner, legs spread-eagle, wide. Strips of frayed rot-cloth molted off a pit-stained tee. When he heard the tight crack of shattered earthenware. His face clinched — a mixture of confusion, disgust, anger and despair. His claws scraped through ocher carpet grasping for a hushpuppy loafer. He lung his arm back, then flicked it to over heel through tobacco stained air. It landed square on Mary's wobbled thigh. Fat Daddy's eyes jerked towards the TV as his lips nipped.

"Mah progrum on, gawt dam't! Mah progrum on!"

But this irritation wouldn't let him be. He ripped a clod of ones out of his back pocket, waving the clutched greenery in Mary's vicinity.

"I pait fur em. They my gawt dam dishes! They mine!"

Mary whispered.

"huspital"

"Whut?"

Mary dreams. A hospital, clean, where doctors' nurses feign antiseptic solicitude towards bulging bellies, green yellow brown.

Mary screamed.

"I want a huspital Deddy!"

Fat Daddy waved her off.

"It's them gawt damt."

Fat Daddy dreams. red.

"Peppers."

Confusion farted out of Mary between cramping's crinkled folds.

"Whut Deddy?"

He leaned forward in his recliner, straining.

"It's dem peppers. They give you."

He lifted half ass and blew.

"I aint et no peppers Deddy."

Fat Daddy fiddled on the coffee table. The Pepto lay under his Home and Garden magazine. He waved the bottle up and down, left and right. A B-movie priest warding off Nosforatu, or oily meatballs.

"You teck this."

Mary held her paunch, rocking back and forth by inches.

"I need."

Mary dreams, stirruped shanks.

Fat Daddy strutted to the television and yanked it off, then took long cowboy strides towards his daughter's churning body. But fear squeezed his innards, and he froze in the archway. His Pepto rattled in a shaking fist.

"Teck you some of this."

She used the sink to steady her frame, the dreams. Albino deep in deep woods, dry twig snapped. Mary heard the water's flow. She turned to the faucet. Dry as the fat man's soul. Her neck bent down. She found the drip. Yellow before the contraction hit. The contraction is red, like a pepper. Mary fell on her rump, landing in a swamp of pee-pee and broken dishes.

Mary howled.

"Deddy!"

but Fat Daddy fled the scene. Back to TeeVision and cigarettes, muttering

"Mah progrum's on May program's on"

as Mary wept.

He tilted the volume full blast and sank; exhausted, old, and corpulent into a carmine nest.

Mary's voice drifted above electrophonic noise.

"Deddy, I need a docter, I think I"

Fat Daddy threw the Pepto at Mary. It bounced off a foot. He turned away. his face set.

"It's just peppers. gotdamit."

Mary eyed her father through sweat-matted locks. She spit. Whether she was aiming for Fat Daddy or linoleum tile, it came out a brackish and bloody drool skimming the hem of her dress. She reached for a chair with her toes, pulled it towards her and tried to ease up. The piss made her slip, but she righted herself right well, then shuffled towards the door, grabbing keys from a nail in the wall.

Fat Daddy slid his eyes over her thick haunch.

"Whur you gon?"

"Deddy help me. This yur fault."

But he crossed his arms, a bitter, withered old buzzard, alone with his 6:00 TV news. Mary opened the screen door and eased down wooden planks. She hobbled barefoot through grass and weed as the afternoon burned purple-brown around her. Fat Daddy ignored the child for his world in a box.

(Chanco Cox lives in Winston Salem, NC.)