by Nick Parker

Sister Mila at the Mission says condoms are no good. She says that the rubber still has tiny holes in it, and that a man’s fertility can still get through, and also AIDS. She says there is science. When I say what am I to do, Billy he is a man, he is wanting to lie with me all the time, she just smiles her big peaceful smile and says that to choose to not to lie down is the best way.

What’s the second best way? I want to ask her, but I don’t. It is a miracle everything in the world isn’t leaking. Why don’t they make condoms out of what they make the water pipes out of, if they don’t want leakage? Ha! A big lead condom, that really would stop Billy wanting to lie down.

So I told Billy we cannot trust the condoms and he made a big show of being all disappointed, but I don’t think he was, not really. He always says they suffocate him just when he needs to breathe the most. He talks some shit sometimes, he does. So I told him there would be no lying together until we’d got some way of making sure against babies. I told him there’d be no more standing up behind Ma Palatour’s lean-to either, and that got him thinking pretty good.

So the next day Billy comes to me and he says he’s got it! He says his brother and his girl have a way to stop babies and that it’s as sure to work as the sun rising and setting. And that way they stop the babies is toothpaste.

Toothpaste? Billy I say, you are a crazy-man. Don’t think I don’t know what you’re trying to do.

But he says no, seriously, it’s the flouride. Flouride kills the baby-makingness of the sperm. There’s science, he said. He’d even borrowed a tube off his brother, to make sure that he’d got the right one. Only Colgate would protect against babies, he said. He held up the tube of toothpaste while he said this, and grinned, like a man in a commercial advertising anti-baby toothpaste.

And it would sure taste good, too, he said, grinning his big crazy grin even bigger. Minty fresh, oh yes.

You crazy shit-talker, Billy, I said, as we lay down.

So big surprise, huh? Now I got me a baby, and Billy has to go to the city to get work. I know it was that time because the toothpaste stung like crazy and we didn’t lie down again for weeks. Billy said for days after when he brushed his teeth it made him wince and cross his legs.

The worse thing is, when I lean over and kiss my baby, I swear to you she smells of mint.

Sister Mila, she don’t know shit about how mysterious God’s been moving round these parts. No way she don’t.