I’ll start by saying that Molly, the baby, is alive. Don’t want anyone to freak out here. This isn’t the sort of story you can just go on about without folks getting all bent out of shape. So at least you know that it’s got a happy ending. Or at least, one that doesn’t involve a dead baby or nothing.
The three of us were all drunk on wine. Me, Lopez, and his wife Reggie. Like, purple teeth drunk. Reggie put Molly to bed early when she saw how fast her husband and I were draining the bottles I brought. Didn’t want to miss out, I guess. Well that baby cried and cried until Reggie turned off the monitor and refilled her jelly jar to the brim. After that it was hours of stories about way back when. About when Reggie and I dated before she met Lopez. About when Lopez got his crappy octopus tattoo. Their wedding. Stuff like that. Nothing about our lives these days really makes much sense, so we just talked about how things used to be.
I drank the crumbs from the bowl of Doritos then got up to get what was left of the sourdough loaf we ate with the spaghetti dinner. It was pretty stale but I was drunk hungry so I didn’t care. I sat back down, and with a full mouth I said something about how I couldn’t believe they had a baby. That I couldn’t believe they were parents. Couldn’t even imagine it. Reggie jumped up and spilled some wine, saying oh shit, she had to go check on the Molly. Lopez shrugged then let his head fall back on the couch headrest. “Whatever,” he said.
Reggie returned with Molly wide awake. It was a cute kid. She put her on the floor to crawl around. We all three watched her like a puppy. Making baby sounds back at her. I can’t lie, watching how she moved and how curious she was about everything cracked me the hell up. We got back to talking, killed another bottle, and I went into the kitchen to open another. The last one. A white this time. Something I picked up on clearance for a couple bucks. Didn’t matter since we weren’t tasting much anymore anyhow. The cork broke in the bottle and it took me forever to get it out. Dug it out with a butter knife. Reggie and Lopez were arguing about something in the living room. Probably something stupid. Been there, that’s for sure.
When I came back, they shut up like they were fooling someone. I stood with the new bottle in my hand and gave them a look like, please, then topped them off with white, turning their cabs into rosé. I said I couldn’t believe the baby had fallen asleep on the floor. Belly down no less. Which made Lopez and Reggie both look at her on the floor all crazy, then rush to flip the baby over. Molly’s face was blue. The sort of blue that makes you want to close your eyes and pretend everything’s gonna be OK. Like in summer, when there are no clouds and you got nothing to do. That kind of blue.
Lopez and Reggie freaked. Passing the baby back and forth, shaking her and all, screaming and hollering. Reggie was crying and said something about Molly choking or something. Molly’s eyes were all watery, her face turning even bluer, if that’s possible. Like a blueberry. Like she was going to pop.
I don’t know what got into me, but I grabbed that damn baby from Reggie’s arms, flipped the child upside-down with my grip tight around one ankle, and with my full palm I whacked the hell out of Molly’s little back and didn’t even think ‘till later that I might break her ribs. Something launched out of that child’s mouth like a bullet, hitting Lopez square in the junk. That’s when then the baby started hacking and crying and breathing again.
Reggie took her back, sat on the couch and squeezed and cried along with her while me and Lopez stood there and watched. A gooey orange triangle stuck to the front of Lopez’s pants until he looked down to flick it off. That’s when one of the dogs, Lem I think, came in the room and ate it off the floor. Lopez told me the dogs love Doritos. I told him he’s an asshole.