The man stood in the city park with a baby strapped to his chest and an earbud in his ear. It was a fine spring day, the air was warm and still. You could hear the whacks of tennis rackets from someplace in the distance.
“I told ya, Murray,” he said, waving his finger in the air for emphasis. “I might not be a fuckin genius but I can see what’s comin.”
The baby in the carrier faced out. His chubby face was marvelously blank, little bare feet stuck out sideways like a frog. Big blue eyes never blinked. He looked like the man in the moon.
“You know Ron’s trying to stick it to Tony. Ya know that, right?”
The man’s mouth moved like a hole punch six inches above the baby’s head. He too had a round face and, like the baby, he was bald. A little stubble sprouted around the sides of his head.
“So ya think ya can take Ron’s money and fight it against Tony’s money? Please.”
People were here and there on the green grass, all facing the same direction, sun on their necks. They bent over their cell phones like monks.
“It’s like hamster money going up against wolf money,” the man said.
In a wide meadow, beyond the man and the baby, a woman watched over a boy who was trying to launch a kite. As soon as the boy stopped running, the yellow kite would tumble back onto the grass.
“Ron’s gonna get his head bit off.”
Beyond the woman and the boy, the skyline of the city glistened.
“Hey, there’s a fuckin movie called, No Way Out. That’s what I’m talking about here: No fuckin way out.”
While he paused to listen to the voice on the line, the man waved his hand. He was trying to catch the eye of his dog—a golden cockapoo named Sid.
“Sid, ya little piece of shit, get your ass over here!” the man yelled.
“Nah,” he said. “I’m talking to the fuckin dog. I’m in the fuckin park.”
The woman, who was holding the kite over her head, glared in the direction of the man as the boy jerked the string. The kite made a looping curve and crashed to earth.
“All those guys from Giganticom, how’d they get those numbers?”
The baby’s mouth made the shape of a little ‘o.’ He’d just seen a yellow butterfly flutter a few feet in front of him. A pair of swallows were zig-zagging through the sky.
That’s when the expression of the baby’s face morphed into something else. His eyes squinched down into perfect little hyphens. The corners of his mouth stretched wide and round like a rubber band between two fingers.
“I mean, it’s the shittiest fuckin job we’ve done for ten fuckin years. True or not true?”
The woman and the boy, with the kite lying limp between them, both looked over when the baby started to wail.
“No, I’m not crying, Murray. It’s the fuckin baby. Just hold on, will ya?”
Without anyone noticing, the cockapoo squeezed out the first half of a soft warm turd. Then, he wandered a few steps away to squeeze out the second.
“Poopie-poopie-poopie-poo!” the man said, tickling the baby’s ribs with his free hand.
He bent to kiss the baby on the top of his head.
“Come on now. No more cryzie-wyzie for daddy-waddy. Poobie-poobie-poobie-pooooooo!”
But the baby bawled even harder.
“I’m telling ya there are people who still like us,” the man said over the din. “They like us with the golf. They like us with the steak dinners. It’s only with the decimals they don’t like us.”
The boy ran with his utmost determination now, and the kite ascended. Ten, fifteen, twenty feet, it climbed—it’s shiny yellow skin clinging to the whiff of breeze. The string went taut and the boy yelled, “Look!”
That was when the baby stopped crying, his face changing back to the astonished, blue-eyed man in the moon.
The kite trembled and stalled, and it pointed its nose towards earth.
The man said, “Let’s fuckin cook the steaks the way people want ‘em,” and his voice traveled like a rogue wave across the summer day.
“We’re not failures, Murray,” he said, stamping his foot. “Failure is not an option here.”
A swallow swept in, a fork-tailed blur, snatched a butterfly out of the air right before the baby’s eyes.
The woman and the boy, bent above the kite, could hear the baby laughing.
Ruben Bix is a writer and graphic artist living in San Francisco. Photo by Larry Syverson (Flickr).