Philemon Steed #4



When my phone rang I knew it wouldn’t be Estrella because she never uses the telephone to summon me. So I answered it.


Unfortunately, the phone was an instrument of torture someone else rarely lets go of.

“Oh. It’s you. So how are you, Mother?”

I could hear the parrot squawking over her shoulder, “RHODA, SAY HI!  RHODA, SAY HI!”

“I thought you were coming by last night.”

“I kinda got stuck somewhere.”

The parrot started chuckling in a creepy sort of way.

“Is thatta fact?”

“Mother, did I say I’d be over for sure? Did I? Did I swear I’d come and see you last night exactly?”

“Of course not, Philemon. You never do.”

There went the parrot. “NEVER DO! NEVER DO!”

“Wait a minute. Wait a minute here. How does this work? I answer my phone innocently enough and instantly I’ve got two strikes against me.”

“What are you talking about? Don’t be stupid.”

“Just forget it, Mother. And don’t call me stupid.”

“I just wanted to tell you I talked to your Aunt Babe this morning.”


“Uncle Slim’s back in the hospital.”

“BUG-EYED SON OF A BITCH!” screamed the parrot.

“Shut up, Major, or you’re going in the freezer! Foul-mouthed bird!”

“Can’t imagine where he gets it from.”

“Don’t get smart with me, Philemon.”


“Gee, I hate to interrupt you and your sidekick but is there something in particular you want, Mother Dear? Cuz if there isn’t, I’d like to get back to my hangover.”

“Oh, so that’s it. Got your nose stuck in a bottle last night?”

Major mumbled a few cuss words.

“Not exactly, and you don’t really wanna know.”

“Okay, never mind. I’ll let you go. But come tonight for supper.”


“Because I’m your mother.”

“MOTHER, SAY GOOD-BYE! MOTHER, SAY GOOD-BYE!” The bird was relentless.

“So, Philemon. Are you coming then?

“Yeah, yeah. All right.”

“I’ll expect you at six-thirty. Good-bye.”

The click of the receiver signaled to my brain I could start breathing again. I went over to my old pillow and slugged it until there was nothing left to hit. My pounding head fit nicely into the deep hollow I’d made for myself. It was sort of like laying down on Estrella’s stomach—a large, spongy thing that gave with the least bit of weight.

My face would naturally turn inward into her vast belly, and downward. My entire head was determined to submerge itself in the malleable flesh, the quiet restful, receptive flesh. Skin that said yes, not because it was supposed to but because it was Estrella, her pilot light always lit, her flesh a slow-burning yes. Hers was female flesh that hadn’t toughened like leather from the inside out. No man had got to her when she was three or six or thirteen, which in itself was a miracle. She had absolutely no reason to hate men. She was lucky. I hated them enough for both of us.

Her skin sang yes. It yielded without delivering that punishing blow, that acidic, mocking expulsion of my ricardo after the deed was done. No, Estrella’s skin never said no. There was no pain in her pores, no accounts to settle, no balls to break. Her skin, her gargantuan belly, her rambunctious breasts, fat knees, stumpy toes, and the two deep dimples above her wide ass all said yes. But goddamn if her mouth didn’t always say no. Again and again and again. No, Pheel, no. She loved tormenting me. And again and again I’d bore into her, diving down, deeper and deeper, trying to lose myself once and for all like the headless bodies in the Cuaca River, and she’d cry no, Pheel no, all the while yes was screaming from everywhere else so I’d go again and again and again. And her yesness would suck me dry. Then I’d fall asleep counting how many languages no is the same. Or nearly so. No. No. Non. Nao. Nyet. Nein.

To be continued….

Read More by Renee Walker


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