I woke up early the next morning to take my first good look at the boy. I was exhausted the night he was born, and shocked by the litres upon litres of birth fluid that had spilled upon my boots. I woke early to see my son for the first time.
Luc slept on his belly. The first thing I noticed about the boy was that he had a lot more hair than his brother and sister: dark, black hair, all wild and messy.
I was worried, at first, by the sight of the boy sleeping on his belly, afraid he might smother himself so I picked him up and turned him around; nothing could have ever prepared me for the sight I then did see.
The boy, at nine hours of age, had a moustache, every bit as thick and as dark as the hair on top his tousled head. I almost dropped the bastard. “Oh, my God” I said, blinking several times. The moustache remained. I hoped it might be coagulated deer’s blood. I used my thumb nail to try to scrape it off, to no friggin’ avail: “Marie, wake up and take a look at this.”
She was slow to rise that morning; she’d had a rough night, of course. But upon seeing the little lad in my arms, she smiled and reached out to hold him. When I turned him around to face his mother, she gasped and then, she laughed. “The little fucker’s got a moustache, Marcel”.
“Yes. Yes he does.”
Allow me to emphasize my disbelief. I myself have never, been able to grow a moustache, much less a beard, or goatee, or anything else of the sort and I would often look at the men from our village who sported the things, with a silent and intense jealousy. I wondered if the boy was indeed mine.
For the first time, I was forced to question Marie’s faithfulness. I took a quick inventory of the village’s mustachioed men: “OK—Father Baudrillard—no, he’s out—I hope. Jacques? No, no, I think he likes men, I’m sure of it. Hmmm. NORMAND!?! The fucker!” I studied the boy’s face for the slightest resemblence of my best friend aside from, of course, that miserable fuckin’ ‘stache.
This was not the first time I’d been suspicious. Normand and Marie had always shared the things that, to me, were completely foreign. He, an amateur writer, shared much of his library with my wife, who borrowed books two at a time. Every night, she reads as I snore.
I often awake in the middle of the night to find her lamp still burning–her eyes awake, frantically eating up black words. “Go back to sleep, dear, I’m just about finished this chapter”.
Whenever Normand and I took our wives to the pub for dinner, the double date turned into literary debate with Gene and I exchanging uncomfortable glances. I was convinced Normand had knocked up my wife.
I managed to conceal my rage for a few minutes, at least. I too laughed at the hairy symbol of my wife’s infidelity. Again, I tried to scrape it off, but it didn’t budge.
I held Luc in my arms, trying to tame my suspicions, but the moustache ruined everything. I nuzzled the boy’s face, closing my eyes and the beastly thing stung my own hairless flesh.
A few days later, I tried to destroy the moustache. My mother was on her way to visit her newest grandson and, of course, I feared her reaction to the lad’s extra appendage. I covered his lip with shaving soap and tried to guide the straight blade down his lip, but he flailed. “Come here for a minute, Marie!” She walked into the bathroom howling with laughter at the whole thing.
“Marie, I need you to hold his head still!” She didn’t like the hair above Luc’s lip either–it embarrassed her when she showed him off to her friends. She cradled the boy’s head in her hands, but failed to keep him still enough.
Again, the boy squirmed and I almost cut off his lips. “For fuck sake Marie, I told you to hold him still!”
“I’m doing my best, Marcel, what the fuck is wrong with you?” she screamed. Again, I placed the cold blade against Luc’s baby flesh. After finishing the left side, Luc began to wail; I lost it.
“Fuck! Give him your tit and we’ll finish the job when he stops crying” the boy cried even harder.
“Marcel. don’t talk to me like that in my own fuckin’ house. What the fuck’s your problem? You’ve treated me like shit ever since Luc was born. I went through seven months of hell to give you another kid, a child that your paycheck can’t afford, by the way (fuck, I hated when she said that). I told you I didn’t want another kid, but you insisted, so I did, and now you treat me like this? Fuck you!” She too, began to cry. “Now your fucking mother’s coming—this is just fucking great!”
“I don’t want him, Marie; I wanted you to have my fuckin’ baby.”
I hadn’t planned to reveal my suspicions so soon. The moustache…. Or, half a moustache, rather, was evidence, not proof, of my the affair. “Are you… did you just? Oh, fuck you. We are fucking… I’m gone.” She grabbed Luc and ran away to her mother’s house in tears. I stood alone, and in a burst of rage, sadness and confusion, I planted the blade in the bathroom wall before searching the pantry for some whiskey.
After a couple of shots, I tried to distract myself. I went to the shop and started sanding the oak table I finished before hunting season began. I had just hit my stride when the door to the shop flew open; it was my mother: “OK, where’s the baby?”
I had rehearsed my answer prior to her arrival: “Marie took him over to her mom’s house. Do you want a drink?”
She adamantly shook her head. “Marcel, if I wanted a drink I would have gone to the pub. I came to see my grandson.”
“Ok, I’ll walk over there with you” I said.
We walked; she talked. She was completely and totally unrelenting in her gossip that day, assuming, incorrectly, that I gave even one fuck about what she was saying. I nodded, and said “yeah”, or, “oh”, every once in a while, but mostly I thought about Marie. I felt awful about everything I had said to her.
Marie has been the love of my life since elementary school and I can now say, with confidence, that she has never strayed: not once. Never even thought about it, I am sure. But, at the time, all I could think about was that accursed, fucking moustache! I told myself to forget about it, but…Fuck! C’mon, a moustache?
We soon knocked on my mother inlaw’s door. I walked in, after being greeted coldly by Marie’s mother: I was pretty sure she knew everything, but was kind enough to keep quiet about it in front of mom. She talked with ma about how cute their grandson was. I noticed that she failed to mention the moustache; “She’ll see soon enough”, I thought to myself.
We walked into the living room to find Marie nursing. The flesh of her breast was red, irritated by the hairs of half moustache. She pretended that everything was okay. “Oh, look Luc; someone has come to visit you.” She cooed in her baby voice. She cut the boy off early, handing him off to my mom: he started crying immediately.
Ma had always been critical of us and our kids. Jean was too thin, and Louise too fat, for her liking. She didn’t have to look very hard to find fault in Luc. “What the hell is this?” She looked in disgust at the hairy-lip, which gleamed with watery breast milk.
Marie answered before I could: “Yeah, that’s Luc’s, uhhh, moustache”. By then, Marie was used to answering the inevitable question. It did not satisfy my mother, however.
“It is most certainly not a moustache; it is half of a moustache!”
I took it upon myself to step in and take the pressure off Marie. “Yeah ma, I shaved the other half off this afternoon”.
“You shaved your infant son?” She asked, turning her glare from Luc to me.
“Well, he has a fucking moustache!”
“Why does he have a moustache? He’s only three days old and he was two months premature!”
“Marcel has a theory about that. Care to share with us Marcel?” Marie said. She too was not glaring at me: I sweat profusely, fumbling for an answer.
“Ummm, I ahh… Well, Marie ate a lot of sausage during the, uh, pregnancy?”
My mother looked at me: “You’ve gone insane, Marcel.”
After ma had her fill of the boy, she got up and walked to the front door of the house. “I am starving! What are you making me for supper?”
I looked to Marie and realized that she was not going to be coming home with us that night: “Well, ma, we have some venison sausage we could fry up.”
“You’re not coming with us, Marie?”
“Actually, Luc and I are going to stay here tonight with mom. You two can eat whatever you’d like, but make sure that Jean and Louise get some greens. There is some broccoli in the ice-box.” She didn’t even look at me.
“Ok, well, let’s get going ma. The other kids will be home soon. Thanks for the tea, Mom!”
She knew: “Don’t call me Mom, Marcel.” Luckily, ma didn’t hear her say that; woulda been around the village before we got home. I closed the door behind me, sighing in resignation.
I was restless, that night. Already accustomed to sleeping with Marie and the lad; the bed felt too big for me alone. I lay in the dark, reassessing every word spoken between Marie and I earlier that day.
I felt awful, but justified. Her severe reaction, at first, made me feel pretty guilty, but by the time I lay down my weary head down, I was suspicious. If she was innocent, why was she hiding from me?
I decided I would divorce Marie. I decided to move away and start a new life in Alberta. For the past several months, I had been corresponding with my friend Philip, who had recently moved to the prairies. He had started up a farm and had mentioned a few times that he could use my strong back to bail hay. I had always loved the musical quality of that province: “Alberta”. I whispered the name over and over like a prairie mantra. “Alberta.” “Alberta.”
At 3:00 AM, I was still sleepless. My mind had, by then, moved past Marie. I had convinced myself she had made a cuckold of me; I didn’t want to face my coworkers ever again.
I grappled with the minor details of my immanent move to Alberta. I wondered how I would manage in an English speaking province. Don’t they hate us ‘frogs’ over there? My thoughts were interrupted when, upon rolling over, I was completely blinded by a heavenly light.
I heard the slam of a steel door. I was scared, I realizing that I hadn’t locked the front door that evening, in case Marie came back. I heard our front door open with a bang and a muscular, white t-shirt came a-jumping into my room; I almost shit the bed, swear t’ Christ.
The light completely transformed the bedroom. I knew the room very well. Marie had always been very particular about the arrangement of the furniture I made for us; every picture and every mirror was in its pre-ordained spot. I didn’t dare to move any of our furniture: the room had, for over ten years, remained fixed and unchanged. But in the holy light, everything changed. Large shadows covered the walls like tar.
I was terrified, but felt a peace too; I know this probably sounds insane.
Music also creeped into the room. I had never heard anything like it before. I don’t know if I’d even consider it to be “music”, but for lack of a better word, that’s what I’ll call it.
The ‘music’ spoke of wonderful, drunken, things. Cobs of corn painted oceanic blue! Southern Comfort panty hose! Embryos carrying daggers! I tried desperately to stay afloat in the waters of these deep and terrifying visions until the man in white, who I somehow had, impossibly, completely forgotten once again captured my sleep-deprived-eyes.
The angel didn’t introduce himself to me. He paced frantically around the room like a panther in a cage: back and forth and forth and back, wringing his hands like I do when the weather gets cold.
I could tell that he struggled to find his words which, eventually, exploded into the cold night air: “Now, Marcel, you must bend your mind a little bit here–you must, you must (!), bend your mind now, in order to wrap it tightly around every word I’m about to tell you. Yass, yass, see, I know about the little drama you’ve been going through. I know that you’re pissed about the supposed longings of that sweet lil’ Marie. You’re nervous that the sweet little piece of flesh she carries around between her legs has been poked and prodded by your good pal Normand. 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, several times—“that sombitch, Normand, has heard that laugh I own all too well, and now, you don’t know who you should off first, him or her. I know you’ve been thinking to yourself the best ways that you could get rid o’ the whole problem—to try to make it look like an accident, y’ know? Hmm? Hmm”. His head nodded vibrantly and bobbed frantically to the far-away beat behind the light.
He didn’t relent. “But you see, now Marcel, Marie is true blue– she would never even think of letting hands, no matter how fine, touch her in those sweet spots that bleed milk. She’s given you a son now, a son who has been prophesied by a good pal of mine, who did fuck my wife on a number of my occasions… we won’t even get into that (pause)—See, lil’ Luc’s gonna make everyone’s head flip and go ‘awwweee’- you know what I’m talking about? See, ummm, Jean, he was a great guy, but he would always tell me that he’s not the end. He always told me about this mad child who would come to liberate us all! This son of yours is a gift, Marcel! 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, Marie, 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 you always throw on your face and, quick, jump into black chariot– we’ll be there in jus’ a few seconds, le’s go, le’s go, le’s go!”
I felt like I was gonna fuckin’ throw up. My arms shook under the weight of his language. Angel then walked into the light and into the music. I ran to catch up to him, jumping into the passenger side of his black Hudson.
The frantic figure beside me banged the beat of this ‘music’ into the Hudson’s steering wheel. Head-lights cut through impenetrable darkness and, the darkness, not overcome. Strange music populated my mind with more mad mental peculiarities: black-whiskered goats on bikes! Japanese hills ablaze with cool-water center! Oblivion, death and rebirth feasted at the bunny’s table that night, and I couldn’t have given two fucks about it! We arrived at my mother in law’s house. I walked out of music. I walked out of light. I staggered to her door as if drunken but knocked upon it softly.
Marie opened the door. Tears of joy and forgivness filled her eyes. We made love in the pale-moon-light. I think she woke her mother and our son with passionate, giggly love joy. Darkness, on this night, overcome.