Milk and Honey: Chapter Three

***Please keep in mind, as you read this, that this is a very rough draft of what will, one day, be a novel… I am currently revising/rewriting…***

The following morning, Marcel and Odette rise early to have a better look at their new-born son.  The night, coupled with their own exhaustion, had hidden their son’s face from their eyes: they are eager to see their son for the first time.  The first thing they notice as they inspect him is the thick, dark mat of hair which rests upon Luc’s head.  The mat, wild and tousled from Luc’s first and restless night of sleep between his parents, is not the most distinguishing feature of this small child, however.

Luc sleeps on his stomach.  At first, Marcel and Odette are worried by the sight of their son, who lies prostrate with his head buried in the mattress.  When Odette lifts him up, she is comforted to see that he is still alive.  Her relief quickly changes to shock when she sees his face.  Luc Marc Louis was born with a moustache that is already just as dark as the thick hair atop his head.

At first, Odette thinks the thing is simply coagulated deer blood.  When she sticks out her thumb nail to chip the blood gently off her son’s lip, she is surprised to find thick bristles of hair.  At first, she laughs: “this little fucker’s got a moustache, Marcel”.  Marcel does not believe her, for two reasons.  First, and most obvious, Marcel has never seen a new-born equipped with a moustache.  Second, Marcel himself has never been able to grow a moustache, or any other type of facial hair.  Marcel has always looked at the other village men who sported the things with a silent, yet intense, jealousy.

Marcel’s jealousy is now infinitely compounded at the sight of his son, not even a day old, flaunting the moustache in his father’s face.  Marcel begins to assess the faithfulness of his wife.  He takes a quick inventory of the village’s mustached men.  “OK—Father Baudrillard—no, he’s out—I hope.  Jacques?  No, no, I think he’s a closet queer.  NORMAND!  That fucker!”  Marcel studies Luc’s face for the slightest essence of his best friend aside from, of course, the miserable moustache.

This was not the first time Marcel had been suspicious of the relationship between his friend and his Odette.  “Those two have always shared things that are foreign to me” he thinks.  Normand, an amateur writer, had shared much of his library with Odette, who borrowed books two at a time.  Every night, Odette reads while Marcel snores.  Sometimes, Marcel awakes in the middle of the night to find Odette’s lamp still burning–her eyes awake, scanning the page.  “Go back to sleep, dear, I’m just about finished this chapter”.  When Marcel and Normand take their wives to dinner, the double date would inevitably turn into literary debate with Marcel and Gene on the sidelines exchanging uncomfortable glances.  Marcel has convinced himself: “that fucker has knocked up my wife”.

Marcel conceals his rage.  He pretends to laugh at the hairy symbol of his wife’s infidelity.  He too tries to scrape the thing off, but is unsuccessful.  He holds Luc in his arms and tries to forget about his suspicion, but when he looks into Luc’s eyes, the moustache screams in his peripheral vision.  Every time he nuzzles his son’s face, the bristles dig into Marcel’s flesh.

A few days later, Marcel tries to destroy the moustache.  His mother is scheduled to arrive soon to visit her newest grandson and Marcel fears her reaction to the boy’s extra appendage.  He covers Luc’s lip with shaving soap, and guides the straight blade to his lip, but Luc struggles.  “Come here for a minute, Odette!”  Odette enters and laughs at the scene in front of her.  “Hold his head, damn it!”  Odette also dislikes the hair above her son’s lip–it embarrasses her when she shows him off to her friends, so she obliges her husband.

“For fuck sake, hold him still!”  “I’m trying, what the hell is wrong with you anyway?”  Marcel looks up and gives his wife the coldest, blankest stare she has ever received from him.  She is startled and confused, but tries to hold her son’s head more steadily.  Marcel once again places the cold blade against Luc’s soft skin.  He finishes the left half of the job when Luc begins to cry.  “Fuck!  Give him your tit and we’ll finish the job when he stops crying” Luc cries harder; Odette has had enough.  “Listen Marcel, I will not have you talk to me like that in my own house.  What the fuck is your problem?  Ever since Luc was born you have treated me like shit.  I went through seven months of hell to give you another child, a child that your paycheck cannot afford, by the way.  I told you that I didn’t want another kid, but you convinced me and I did and now you treat me like this?  Oh, and now your mother is coming—that makes everything just perfect!” “I don’t want Luc; I wanted you to have my baby.”

Marcel had not planned on revealing his suspicion this soon.  The moustache (now reduced to half a moustache) on his son’s face was evidence, not proof, of his wife’s affair with his best friend.  Odette reels from her husband’s pronouncement.  She grabs Luc and runs in the direction of her mother’s house in tears.  Marcel stands alone; in a burst of rage, sadness and confusion he plants his razor in the wall.

Marcel tries to distract himself from everything by working on the oak table he started before hunting season began.  The door to the shop flies open; it is his mother.  No hello to her son.  “OK, where’s the baby?” Marcel had rehearsed the answer to this inevitable question prior to her arrival.  “Odette took him over to her mom’s house.  Do you want a drink?”  “Marcel, if I wanted a drink I would have gone to the pub. I came to see my grandson.”  Marcel puts his chisel down, a bit harder than usual.  “Ok, I’ll walk over there with you.”

They walk; she talks.  She is unrelenting in her gossip and incorrectly assumes that he cares.  He nods, and says “yeah” every once in a while, but mostly he thinks about his fast-approaching encounter with his wife.  He feels awful.  Odette has been the love of his life since elementary school, and she has never strayed.  Never even thought about it, he is sure.  But that moustache!  No, forget about it.  Fuck.

Marcel and Anne-Marie knock on the Fournel’s door.  He walks in meekly when Odette’s mother invites him and his mother in: he is quite sure that she knows everything, but is kind enough to keep quiet in front of his mother.  She talks with Anne-Marie about how cute their grandson is.  Marcel notices that she fails to mention the facial hair; she’ll see it soon enough.

The three walk in on Odette nursing Luc.  The flesh of Odette’s breast has grown red and irritated by Luc’s moustache.  Odette also pretends that everything is alright, to her mother-in-law, at least.  “Oh, look Luc; someone has come to visit you,” Odette coos in her baby voice; the voice has always irritated Marcel, but never more than this instant.  Odette ends Luc’s meal prematurely and hands him off to his grandmother; he wails.

Anne-Marie has always been critical of her grandchildren.  Jean was too thin, and Louise too fat, for Anne-Marie’s liking.  She does not have to investigate much to find fault in Luc.  “What the hell is this?”  Her question is only half rhetorical as she studies the half moustache which now gleams with breast milk.  “Yeah, that’s Luc’s, uhhhmm, moustache” Odette has had much practice giving this answer out, and answers the same way every time.  “It isn’t a moustache; it is half of a moustache!”  Marcel now steps in to take the pressure of Odette- “Yeah ma, I shaved the other half off this afternoon”.  “You shaved your infant son?”  “Well, he has a fucking moustache!”  “Why does he have a moustache?  He’s only three days old and two months premature!”  Odette speaks up in a broken voice, “Marcel has a theory.  Care to share with us Marcel?”  She focuses her stare on her husband, while he sweats.  “Ummm, I ahh, Odette ate a lot of red meat during the pregnancy?”  His mother looks at him: “You’ve gone insane, Marcel.”

After Anne-Marie has her fill of her new grandson, she gets up and walks to the front door of the house.  “I’m starving. What is for supper?”  Marcel looks toward his wife, and guesses at an answer.  “We have some sausage we could fry up, what do you think, honey?”  “Luc and I are actually going to stay here tonight with mom.  You two can eat whatever you’d like, but make sure that Jean and Louise get their greens.”  Odette does not even look at Marcel. Her mind is made up.  “Ok, well, let’s get going Mom. The other kids should be getting home soon.  Thanks for the tea, Mom!”  She betrays her knowledge: “Don’t call me Mom, Marcel.”  Luckily, Anne-Marie doesn’t hear this response as she is already halfway down the block.  Marcel closes the door, sighing in resignation as he catches up to his mother.

That night, Marcel is restless.  He is used to sleeping with his wife and new-born son; the bed is too big for one man.  With his steel-trap memory, Marcel reassesses every word spoken between him and his wife earlier in the day.  He feels awful, but justified.  Her severe reaction, at first, had made him feel guilty but now he becomes suspicious.  If she is, in fact, innocent, why would she be so angry?  Why would she hide behind house and mother?  Marcel decides that he will secretly divorce his wife to hide her from shame and start a new life of solitude in Alberta.  He has been corresponding with a friend who moved out there a few years ago, who has started up a farm and has mentioned a few times that he could use Marcel’s strong back.  Marcel likes the musical quality of Alberta; he whispers the name over and over like a prairie mantra.  Alberta.

3 AM—Marcel still sleepless.  His mind has moved beyond his wife, who has made a blank of him, and now grapples with the minor details of the new life Alberta promises him.  Marcel rolls over, and is suddenly blinded by a heavenly light that blazes behind his window.  Behind the light, a black and chrome beast growls louder than a lion.  Steel door slams, wooden door opens.  Marcel realizes that he did not lock the front door should his wife decide to return to him.  A muscular, white t-shirt bounds into the room; Marcel is terrified.

Marcel’s own room is now unfamiliar to him.  He knows the room well enough.  His wife is very particular about the arrangement of the furniture; every picture and every mirror is in its seemingly pre-ordained space.  Marcel dare not move anything: the room has, for 10 years, remained unchanged.  But with a holy light streaming through the windows, the room is transformed.  Shadows, unusually large, line the walls like black paint.  The room is illuminated; Marcel feels at peace, as if in heaven.  Music creeps in from behind the light, but Marcel has never heard music like this before.  While there are no words to this music, it seems to speak of wonderful, drunken things.  Cobs of corn painted oceanic blue!  Southern Comfort panty-hose!  Embryos carrying daggers!  Marcel swims in the deep waters of these visions, but the man in white, who Marcel had temporarily forgotten, now once again captures Marcel’s eye.

The man makes no formal introduction.  Instead, he paces frantically around the room, like a panther in a cage: back and forth and forth and back.  He wrings his hands the whole time, knits his brow as he tries to summon the words that now explode into the night-time.  “Now, Marcel, you must bend your mind a little bit here–you must, you must bend your mind in order to wrap it tightly around every word I’m about to tell you here.  Yass, yass, see I know about the little drama you’ve been going through.  I know that you’re nervous about that sweet lil’ Odette.  You’re nervous that that sweet little piece of flesh she carries around between her legs has been poked and prodded by your good pal.  I know how it feels, man.  I know how it feels to think about her gigglin’ the way she does juss’ before she gets off.  I know you’ve probably thought to yourself—“that sombitch has heard that laugh that I own and now you don’t know who you should off first him or her.  I know you’ve been thinking to yourself about the best ways that you could do it—to try to make it look like an accident”  Hmm Hmm, head nods and bobs frantically to the beat coming from behind the light “But you see, now Marcel, she is true blue== she would never even think of letting any hands, no matter how fine, touch her in those sweet spots that bleed milk– she’s given you a son now, who has been prophesied by a good pal of mine, who actually did fuck my wife on a number of my occasions, we won’t even get into that—Lil’ Luc’s gonna make everyone’s head flip and go awwweee- you know what I’m talking about?  See, ummm, Jean was a great guy, but he keeps tellin’ me that he’s not the end, he keeps talking about this mad child who will liberate us all– this son of yours, he’s a gift and you need to trot on over to where your wife sleeps and tell her you’re sorry in every possible position you can think of- she blessed mother of eternity, she carried he as he lept in her belly.  Now, you follow me and put some of that sweet-smelling stuff on your face and you jump into black chariot and we’ll be there in seconds, le’s go, le’s go, le’s go!”

Marcel is awestruck.  His elbows support his torso and struggle under the tremendous weight of language which has just overthrown his mind.  Angel walks into light and music.  Marcel hastily follows the figure into the light after splashing face with dusty Brut.  Now in black Hudson. Figure beside him bangs the beat into steering wheel—light cuts through darkness and is not overcome.  Music populates Marcel’s mind with more mad mental peculiarities- black-whiskered goats on bikes, Japanese hills ablaze with cool-water center, oblivion, death and rebirth eating at the same table. Marcel arrives, and walks out of music and light, staggers to the door as if he is drunk, knocks softly.  Odette opens the door with tears of joy. They make love by pale-moon-light and she wakes her mother with passionate, giggly love joy.  Darkness, on this night, is overcome.

And Luc hears all these sounds.  He is too young to be repulsed by the thought of his parents’ love sounds.  He delights in the giggles of goose-bump flesh nibbles and consummate moans.  He looks on, and although he doesn’t know it yet, he internalizes the rhythms and writhing of pleasure unbound.  Luc loves lovers as only a lover can love.

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One Response to Milk and Honey: Chapter Three

  1. “He delights in the giggles of goose-bump flesh nibbles” = lovely. I like the idea of a a baby delighting in love and love sounds. I’m not sure about that last line of this chapter, though. I’m intrigued.

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