by Bradford Middleton
Suzy was desperate to become a mother and Jack knew only too well what lengths she would go to in order to fulfil her dream as she told him every day, every single day the absolutely desperate measures she was willing to undertake. She had reduced the joys of sex to something mundane, taking out all the fun and pleasure and reducing it to nothing more than a chore. He hadn’t enjoyed sex with her for months but had decided to endure this bout of loathing for the sake of their relationship; she had, after all, been one of the few women he had met in his life who he felt a real connection with and he didn’t mind the idea of having a kid around. Someone to pass on all his knowledge and to continue the family line for another generation, he knew it was up to him as both of his cousin’s had come out as gay some twenty years earlier. He had felt the burden to continue the family line most severely in his twenties but, now being thirty-eight, it had long since dimmed and his parents had long given up on the idea of becoming grand-parents.
Then one night he was walking back from his dead-end job to their tiny little apartment in one of the cities nicer area when he saw a sign. ‘NEARLY NEW BABY SALE’ the sign screamed, all that was missing were some exclamation marks but it was enough for Jack to take notice. He stood stationary for a moment, rubbing his eyes in disbelief and taking in the full repercussions of what the sign meant to his and Suzy’s life. The sign was still reverberating in his minds eye as he upped his pace to get back to the apartment quicker than normal so he could pass on the amazing news to Suzy.
Minutes later his key was in the front door to the house and he was rushing up the stairs to their tiny studio flat on the fourth floor. He knew what would be waiting for him when he got in. Suzy had developed a habit of attempting to seduce him every time he came back to the flat and tonight would obviously be no different. As he finally entered the flat after traversing the four staircases double-time he ran into the kitchen, wild with excitement at the prospect of literally putting this baby to sleep. This was unusual for him as he rarely got excited about anything but he realised the importance of solving this particular issue and after the months of endless seduction trials the idea of having a kid without him actually having to do anything thrilled him. He knew it wouldn’t technically be his baby but it would be raised by them both and he could shape its mind in a similar way to the way his parents had shaped him.
“Darling, I have some amazing news! They’re having a baby sale down the road at the community centre. We can finally have our own child!” he babbled before she could even turn to face him.
“Really??” Suzy had gotten up off the bed, wearing her usual ‘sexy’ underwear ensemble that she always wore when attempting to seduce Jack. “That sounds great… but…”
“But what… this is ideal, don’t you see honey. we can finally fulfil your dream.”
“No, no buts…. This is the way we are going to do it, ok? It’s this way or no way.”
“But Jack it won’t be really ours…”
“I thought that but look we’ll be able to raise them as ours, what more could you want?”
“I suppose… but boy or girl?”
“I have no preference, you decide…”
“Really, oh ok, well maybe I’ll pop down tomorrow when you’re out at work?”
“Sounds like a plan.”
It was approaching midnight and Jack had yet to have a drink since he got in from work he’d been at work since 11am and had been craving one since his hangover had subsided shortly after lunchtime. He walked into the kitchen and grabbed a couple of glasses and a full bottle of red wine. He uncorked it and poured himself a good measure and offered a glass to Suzy. They sat back and discussed the plan for the following day. The wine flowed freely and soon they were onto a second bottle.
A couple of hours later after a few more bottles they made for bed and that night he slept peacefully for the first time in months. They had both enjoyed their drink and even more importantly for Jack she had made no attempt at the usual seduction technique, it was almost like they had returned to normality.
The next morning he awoke, got dressed and headed off to work whilst all the time she lay in bed, still asleep. That night, after another hard ten-hour shift, Jack got home to discover Suzy still tucked up in bed, nursing a bottle of gin like she used before she’d gone mad on the baby idea.
“What’s going on?” he demanded “I thought…” He shook her and she came to, startled that he was back so soon.
“It’s eight in the evening you wretched drunk… what have you done all day?”
“Well I was going to go to that baby sale but on my way I noticed there was a booze sale on at the shop down on the corner. I wanted a bottle of gin!” She suddenly collapsed back into the bed.
“Oh well, now that’s just fine, I’ll be sure of that” he grabbed the bottle of gin from here clammy paws and downed a hefty shot whilst walking into the kitchen to fetch some mixer and ice. He could barely stand the taste of gin without something added to it. He tipped the remainder of the drink into a glass and filled it all the way to the top of the glass with ice and tonic. Within an hour he was nestled up next to Suzy, cradling his love in his arms, just like he used to when they had first met.
The next morning they awoke later than normal, Jack had actually been scheduled with a day off so he grasped the opportunity to have a sleep in. As he got out of bed he looked over at Suzy lying naked in bed and smiled to himself. He moved into the kitchen and assessed the chaotic end to the previous night and the damage he had caused in his anger at Suzy before the gin had taken a grip of his senses. He began brewing the coffee which the smell of would inevitably wake Suzy from her slumber. Within ten minutes his plan had worked and she was up and feeling all the worse for drinking most of a bottle of gin the day before.
“How you feel this morning then? Not too good I bet… first time you felt like that for a while though, yeah?”
“Oh, you know exactly how I feel you rotter…” she exclaimed on her way to the bathroom from where the inevitable sounds of vomit soon emanated. Jack put the finishing touches to her breakfast. The perfect morning-after cure consisted of a big mug of coffee with a whole assortment of fried vegetables and meat substitutes and a mountain of toast to help the patient pull through the ensuing hangover.
About an hour later they were standing by their flat door, ready to step foot out into the world for what could be the last time ever as just a couple. The moment was not wasted on Suzy who was shaking with excitement, or maybe it was a simple case of the DT’s.
Ten minutes later and they nervously arrived at the entrance to the community centre which still displayed the sign that had grabbed Jack’s attention the other night. Jack pulled out two cigarettes, lit them and passed one to Suzy to calm them down before going in.
“Now, look one last thing before we go inside, don’t expect too much, if anyone asks we’re just here to see what’s on offer, got it?”
“Sure, we angle for the best deal we can get, no problem!”
They calmly walked into the centre, unsure of what they may be about to witness but with the cool detachment of a couple who had bathed in the most decadent life a couple on minimum wage could afford. Within seconds though that detached cool had been blown out of their system as a group of about twenty kids came running up.
“Will you take me?”” was the unifying message from these kids, some of whom where almost as tall as Suzy, who granted was a little diminutive in stature. An older man came over and greeted them as a couple of burly security types muscled the kids away from Suzy and Jack who had been left traumatized by the incident.
“Allow me to apologise whole-heartedly Mr and Mrs…”
“Oh no, I’m Jack and this is my partner Suzy… we aren’t married but we desperately want a baby.”
“Well, you’ve come to the right place. We don’t just have those kids who so rudely welcomed you, we have plenty more.” He led them away from the group and over into one of the private rooms which ran down the left hand side of the hall.
“Please…” come several appeals from behind them.
“This room is full of almost new babies,” he said as his hand pushed the door open.
Suzy and Jack walked in and were almost as shocked at what they saw before them as they had been when they had originally entered the centre. As their eyes surveyed the room there were babies everywhere but there was something wrong with the whole scene. Jack walked up to the nearest and it seemed nearly perfect apart from its lack of a right arm. The next one had only one ear, the other side was just pure bloodied flesh. He looked over at Suzy and her face was still in shock, taking in the big picture. Jack thought that she may think this an evil trick played against her and moved over to her. He put his arm around her in a move to console her. She began to shake again, except this time it wasn’t the DT’s, it was with pure unadulterated sadness and pain, and soon the tears followed.
“My dear, what could ever be the matter” the host asked “…do you not approve of what we have to offer?”
“How can you? Are you some kind of monster?” she screamed beating her fists against his chest.
“Well, my dear, what did you expect… the best in town go to the best neighbourhoods, around these parts you’re lucky if they still have their own hearts!” Jack felt useless in his attempt at holding on to her as she escaped his grasp and ran for the door, tears streaming down her face. He turned his back on the host and left with the same impeccably detached sense of cool he had entered with and was worried that he could not see Suzy anywhere.
It was only lunchtime but already Jack felt like getting high so he went off back home and rolled a big fat joint, smoked it and then went out to the pub. Suzy had still not turned up when he arrived back many hours later and there was no note.
“Bet she’s having a blast whatever it is she’s doing…”
See another of Brad’s stories previously published on HST here.