Happy Family Jewels
Jackie says, “Chinese food is supposed to mix together
on the plate.” I know him as Dave but he says he is Jackie. We are sitting in a bad-good Chinese place that uses quality grease.
The centerpiece is a ripped silk flower and a wooden Buddha.
The lunch in front of me has become orangecashew beefpork despite my efforts to
“I don’t like it mixed up,” I say. “I
wish these plates had compartments.”
Jackie shrugs. “It doesn’t matter. It runs together anyway.” He picks up the Buddha
and strokes it thoughtfully. “His stomach is so smooth. And his head. No hair anywhere.”
“I bet he has hairy testicles.”
“I don’t know if he has any at all,”
“I’ve never patted the Buddha
below the belt, but I think he does.”
He hands me the figure. “I always
thought the big belly was supposed to imitate early Goddess carvings. The
miracle of life. Being a man would have been hard for him. I bet he tucks.”
I rub the Buddha’s
belly. He feels reassuringly masculine. “I’m still sick in the mornings. We
should have met for dinner instead. Or after the baby is born.”
Jackie frowns. “Are you worried I won’t give child support? I will, after I
pay for the surgery.”
“I don’t care about the money,” I say,
setting the Buddha down. “I’d rather have you come home.”
Now Jackie picks up the Buddha and studies it carefully. “I’m sorry, but I can’t.
It’s not you, I swear. It’s all me.”
“I still love you.”
Jackie sighs. “You never knew me. And that was my fault.” He takes ten bucks
and a tube of lipstick out of his purse. He puts the money on the table and
freshens his lipstick. He smacks his lips in my direction, in a kiss that’s not
meant for me. He stands up and glides out the door, his high heels clattering
on the tiled floor.
Copyright © 2005 Vylar Kaftan