the First Shall Be Last
Where are you?
crouched behind a box in the alley and sobbed, frantic for his
mama to come rescue him from the FBI man who was chasing him with
a machete. He peeped out from his skinny white fingers and saw
a bony white cat clawing at the dumpster.
that you, Mama?
cat jumped into the dumpster, growling and licking the scraps
from Vitos, the one Italian restaurant in town.
leaped up and ran through the back door of Vitos, grabbing
the waiter. Theyre going to kill me! he whispered. I cut
off the presidents head last week and now theyre coming
to kill me!
waiter walked over to the counter and picked up the phone beside
the cash register.
that boy! said Mama, as she slammed down the phone and stepped
into her red and orange hibiscus moo-moo. Fifty-five years old
and still hanging onto my tit like a newborn kitten! Damnation!
By the time I get there, hell be curled up in the alley,
sucking his knuckles. Why me? Why me? Mama popped a handful of
Rolaids into her mouth and took off in the green bomb, a 1968
eight minutes she peeled into the alley, jumped out of her car
and grabbed Jamie by the collar. Boy, whats the matter with
you? Dont you know what time it is? If you make me miss
Days one more time, Im going to shoot you dead.
Just cause youre jumbled dont mean you have to act
like this. You do this again and Ill drown you in Turkey
Creek. I aint kiddin, boy!
smiled and sucked his thumb. Youre a good mama, he said.
up! Mama screamed. And get that thumb out of your mouth! Mama
hauled off and slapped the fire out of Jamies face, and
love you, Mama, he said. Then he sat up straight and clasped his
hands together like a little old lady on her way to a tea.
are the weirdest creation I ever did see, said Mama. When I get
to Heaven, Im going to ask God what the hell he was thinking.
pulled into the gravel drive of their small clapboard house, complete
with sunflowers, plastic geese, and an oversized heart-shaped
birdbath out front. Jamie leaped from the car before Mama turned
off the ignition and headed straight for the birdbath.
away from there, Jamie! Mama screamed, to no avail. This aint
the day, this aint the day! Its Tuesday, Jamie, not
Wednesday! Dont do it, baby dont do it!
late. Jamie leaped out of his clothes and climbed into the birdbath,
stark naked. Tweet, tweet, he said. Tweet, tweet, tweet, he continued,
his voice becoming shrill. Tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet,
he said, his face enveloped in bliss. Fly, fly, fly, little birdie.
Fly, fly, fly. Jamie fluttered his arms like a hummingbird. A
transformation occurred and he rose to his knees, and on to a
standing position. Jamie was now an American Eagle. Arrrrrck,
arrrrrck, arrrrrck, he screamed, flapping his arms gracefully.
Arrrrrrck, arrrrrrck, arrrrrrck. I love you, Mama . . . goodbye.
blew a kiss, took a flying leap and landed face down on the grass.
Mama ran over to him and placed her fingers on his neck. Then
she grabbed his wrist and counted silently, her lips moving.
she screamed. Damn! One of these days, boy, youre going
to fly on out of this world and well both get some peace
and quiet. Get up from there and get you some clothes on.
stood up, then yawned and stretched. He strolled into the house,
took a shower, then sat down at the kitchen table beside his mama.
Say the prayer, Jamie, she said.
God in Heaven, thank you for my Mama. Thank you for my ravioli,
and thank you for letting me fly. Please forgive me for cutting
off the presidents head. I promise not to do that again.
nine oclock, Jamie changed into his aviator pajamas and
curled up in his bed. Mama took him a glass of water and sat down
in the rocking chair beside him.
upon a time, she read, there was a little boy named Jamie. He
was delivered by Gods special angel, and he was a beautiful
boy with hair of gold and eyes like robins eggs. His mother
loved him very much, even though he was different. Mama knew Jamie
would never change. He would never grow up, and he would always
need her. She promised God she would do her best for Jamie and
prayed for forgiveness when she threatened to kill him. In her
dreams, God often promised Mama that he gave Jamie to her for
a reason, and that one day, she would understand.
blew her nose, closed the book and tucked Jamie in, safe and sound.
love you, boy, she said.
love you too, Mama, he said. Youre real good.
Lee Pollock is a seventh grade English teacher in Columbia,
Tennessee. She also writes feature stories for area newspapers,
and she has just completed her first novel. In addition, she writes
short stories and songs, and she is a member of ASCAP.
Julia Lee Pollock