Chris looked around the small, tired apartment. The doors leading to the balcony were open, letting in a meager breeze. He grabbed a beer, walked back to the living room and dropped on the couch. Where’s that damn cat, he wondered? Hope it got run over by a bus. One of these days he really would throw it over the ledge. He heard a soft crying sound coming from the bedroom. Damn thing must be stuck in a closet. A shadow on the floor made him realize that the cat was sitting in the window, silently watching him. Damn, he thought, it’s the baby. Now what was he supposed to do?
He tried to ignore it but the crying grew stronger and more insistent. He got up and got another beer, and on the way back he looked in on the baby. It was pathetic looking; born premature to a crack addicted mother, it was under weight and suffering from numerous neurological disorders. Reggie was unable to interact with people or his surroundings the way a normal infant would. His future was bleak. It would be difficult to place him for adoption; his medical expenses alone, even with government assistance, would bankrupt a family. Chris looked at the fussing infant with feelings of contempt and fear.
“Well, what’s your problem?”
The baby, sensing a hostile presence, cringed and cried harder.
“I’m going to beat her ass when she gets home. What am I supposed to do?”
“He wants you to pick him up,” a tiny voice said. Spinning around, Chris saw Lizzie, the cat by her side.
“What the hell are you doing up? Get your ass back to bed before I beat it!”
Lizzie ran back to her room; the cat sat staring at him.
He snarled, throwing his empty beer can at it. He missed the cat as it ran towards the living room. Turning back to the crib, Chris looked down at the still fussing baby. Should he pick it up? He reached down and grabbed the child with one hand. The baby immediately stiffened and tried to squirm away. Chris held it tighter and went to the kitchen to get another beer. Returning to the living room he sat on the couch, looking at the baby. It was still squirming and crying. Chris tried to get it to stop, but his attempts were horribly inadequate. Frustrated, he took a swig of beer. He looked at the baby as the liquid slid down his throat. Why not, he thought. Propping up the baby with one hand, and holding the beer can with the other; he tried to pour some beer into the baby’s mouth, soaking the front of his sleeper. The baby cried louder and harder.
“Come on damn it, lighten up bud,” Chris muttered, trying to give Reggie a drink. This time he was more successful; Reggie swallowed and choked on the unfamiliar liquid. He immediately threw up all over himself and Chris.
“Fuck! Man, you got to learn to hold your brew, dude.”
Chris wiped the vomit off, and then gave the baby more beer. This time Reggie managed to keep it down.
“Way to go man, two guys belting back some brews.”
Chris took a swig of beer and watched the baby grow quieter. Hell, this wasn’t so bad, this was no problem.