canadian ~ twenty-first century literature since 1999

The Man Who Ate Babies

by Greg Kearney

"Oh. Huh. Why? Oh."

He stood in the hotel bathroom, under the chandelier, crying and saying these things. He had just taken off the pants he was wearing when his roommate told him he was fishy-looking. You're fishy-looking, he said. You look a bit like that birthday party clown who ate babies is what my girlfriend said, he said.

The bathtub tap was dripping. He could never kill anyone. Look at his shaving kit: little scissors, new toothpaste, little pearl-handled comb.

Earlier he called room service. The girl sounded tired when she answered.

"Can I just get a hamburger?" he said.

"What d'you say? Spaghetti?" she said.

"That sounds not too bad. Surely," he said.

He kept crying. Looked at his red face in the mirror and his tits, both of them bobbing with his sobs. Turned the water on. Ran his hand under the tap. Splashed warm water on his face. Now it looked like he'd really been crying, from his eyes and nose and mouth, like he had a crying disease.

"What am I doing?" he asked himself. "I know what I'm doing," he answered. "I don't look like a murderer," he said. "I'm trustworthy. If people think I'm fishy-looking then they don't know what honest looks like. I'm fine. I'm too good for my own good."

He turned the water off. Turned the tap tight until the tap made a metal grinding sound. Flicked off the light.

He curled up, knees to chest, on the bed. Closed his eyes.

Behind his eyes he saw the lights in the first floor bar go out. The night was dark. The music there stopped. His bed stopped humming. He heard his pulse in his pillow.

Through the wall he heard girl crying sounds. His stomach plummeted. He reached for the radio.

Then, through the wall, he made out some things.

"It thick."

"You pounded?"

"I pounded! Wow!"

"Too wet."

"I'm special."

"Drink it."

He put his ear to the wall. The cool wall. Started for his dick, then did something different. Ran a finger down his front. Across the tit lump scar, the shingles scars all down the side. His ass. Down the crack of it, around the damp gathers of the hole, and slowly up and in.


He checked out in the morning. There was a man and a lady and another man in the lobby. They were all leaning on the big leather couch.

The desk girl had to run to the bathroom. He turned to look out the window. Rain. Old lady in a rain bonnet. Man in a gray suit. The rain on his suit like ink stains.

One of the men on the couch moved. Turned to face the lady. Punched her in the side of her head. The other man jumped back. Then they all walked out together.

By now the desk girl was back behind the desk.

"Isn't the world just awful?" he said to her, shaking his head.

"Yeah," the girl said.

"It's kind of funny, though," he said. "My name is Glen by the way."

"Your credit card is under Leonard," the girl said.

"Yeah. I go by Glen," he said.

"We need to do a verification. Do you have other identification?" the girl said.

"I think we already did this. I did this. With you, I think. I remember your blouse," he said.

"Sir, I change my clothes," she said. "I don't think it's very nice to call people dirty. Especially when your credit card is iffy," she said.

"But it's not iffy," he said.

"I'll be right back. Do not leave or go anywhere," she said. She walked into the back again. He stood at the desk, leaning into his suitcase until it tipped over.


She came back out looking down at the carpet. She was with an older woman.

"You're right that we did do a verification," the girl said. "I'm sure I'm sorry for any inconvenience."

"You're sure you're sorry? What does that mean?" the older woman said.

"I think that's just a local dialect thing," he said. "I've heard people say 'I'm sure I'm sorry' before, and I'm still sure they're sorry," he said. "Are you not from around here? Are you from the east?" he asked the girl.

"She's from Little Bitch Land, isn't she?" said the older woman. Her big breasts were pressing into the girl's arm.

He went to laugh but changed his mind.

"Don't say that," he said. "I'm sure she's a nice person. I'm Glen," he said.

"I know," the girl said.

The big breasts kept pressing.

"I'm Kim," the girl said.

"Hi Kim," he said.

"I'm Helen," the woman said.

"Hi Helen. Thanks for everything. I love it here. The bed was so comfy. Be well," he said.

He walked out into the rain. In the parking lot he saw his car had a scratch along its side. He didn't mind it. Looked like a racing stripe. He'd take his key and make another on the other side, when he got home.

Greg Kearney's stories have appeared here and there. He's a columnist for Xtra! magazine in Toronto. His first collection of short stories, Mommy Daddy Baby, will be happening shortly.







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