Bodies of Water

Bodies of Water by T. Greenwood Read Free Book Online

Book: Bodies of Water by T. Greenwood Read Free Book Online
Authors: T. Greenwood
paper plate.
    “Boston Post Office. Main philatelic clerk,” Frankie said proudly. He had started in the mail room of Simon & Monk, where I met him, and then took the Postal exam when I got pregnant the first time. He’d slowly worked his way up at the post office until he was in charge of all of the commemorative stamps. Now he dealt mostly with the collectors, and was involved in the “first day of issue” commemorative stamp releases. Frankie liked to know the history of things, and he researched the story behind each and every stamp he encountered so that he could share that information with his patrons. His work was something he was proud of.
    “Worry about dogs much?” Ted said.
    “What’s that?” Frankie asked.
    “Dogs! German Shepherds. Rotties.” Ted slammed his drink down on the table. The Jell-O wobbled. “Beware of dog!”
    “Not sure I understand your question,” Frankie said.
    “I’m asking if you ever worry about the dogs! Back in San Francisco, I heard there was a mailman got his face eat off by a Rottweiler, poor fellow just trying to deliver the electric bill.”
    “Oh, no, I’m not a mailman,” Frankie said, stiffening. I felt my heart plummet. Frankie’s shoulders tensed. He clutched his knife and fork in his fists.
    “Well, what are you then?” Ted guffawed.
    “Teddy,” Eva said, reaching for his hand before he could grab his glass and take another drink. He shook her off like one of the many flies that had been landing on the food and on the table all afternoon.
    Frankie’s face was turning red, his jaw grinding. “I’ll tell you what I’m not . . .”
    “What’s that?” Ted laughed. Eva tugged on his arm.
    Suddenly, I peered at Johnny through the yellow gelatin. He was sitting directly across from me, and he’d been shoveling food into his face steadily since we sat down. He was up to four franks and two hamburgers as well as two ears of corn by my count. Through the Jell-O, he looked a little green. And just as Frankie opened his mouth to answer Ted, Johnny threw up. All over my mother’s embroidered strawberries and vines. All over the plate of deviled eggs, splattering the Jell-O salad with undigested hot dog meat. All over the platter of dogs and burgers.
    “Well, Jesus Christ,” Ted said.
    “Oh dear,” I said, rising from my seat and rushing to the other side of the table. Eva was trying to get out from between the bench and the seat, no small feat given her girth. “You stay,” I said to her. “I’ll take care of him.”
    As I whisked Johnny into our downstairs bathroom to clean up, I prayed that both men would just drop the argument. Here I’d been so worried about being able to trust Eva, so concerned about whether or not to pursue a friendship with her, I hadn’t thought about what would happen if Frankie and Ted didn’t get along. I certainly didn’t need them to be best friends, but it would have been nice to have a couple we could spend time with. Someone our own ages. And our children got along so well. I already had so few friends, so few people I could talk to. Suddenly, as I wiped Johnny’s face and removed his soiled cowboy shirt, I was mad at Frankie. He was a mailman after all. It was wrong of Ted to make fun, but it was the truth, wasn’t it? He’d only been teasing.
    “How’s your tummy?” I asked Johnny. His eyes were red from crying, and his breath sour. I dug around in the drawer until I found a bottle of Listerine. I rubbed his small back as he swished the mouthwash around his mouth, his eyes watering, and I thought about boys. About how terrible and primitive they are. About how violent, how dangerous. Even a little boy like this one: a little boy who would be happier living in a zoo among the other animals. What if Eva was right? What if this baby was a boy? And I realized that this was the first time I’d let myself imagine a baby. A living, breathing, crying, hungry being. The revelation nearly took my breath away.
    I still

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