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Written by Maxwell Bauman. Maxwell is the Managing Editor of Door Is A Jar literary magazine. He is a nice Jewish boy with a collection of more than 60 different versions of the Kama Sutra spanning 9 languages. This is his first piece published on Jewrotica.
“Eat, friends, drink! And be drunk with love!”
— Song of Solomon 5:1
I don’t know why Momma likes that jerk Dave. What was wrong with Poppa? Sure he’d fall to pieces now and then, like the time uncle Set cut him up and scattered him in the Nile. I’m an only child and I even I know that siblings fight all the time. Momma and I took nets and combed through the river for all the pieces. If we didn’t work fast, then some might sink and settle into the sediment. Once we got all of Poppa in one place we had to put him back together again. We sorted out the skin, bones, hair, organs and muscles into different piles.
That’s when that douche-nugget Dave showed up. He was just wandering along the banks chewing on a piece of straw like a dimwit with nothing better to do. He came over to us with his head cocked to the side. “What are you doing?”
I screeched at him. Normally that would be enough to send anyone running. He took a step back like he was about to bolt when Momma said, “Hush, Horus. Be nice to the man.”
I squinted at Dave. I would’ve loved to peck his eyes out right then and there, but I decided to show restraint for Momma.
“We’re putting my husband back together,” Momma said.
Dave scratched at his beard and looked at the piles. “Need any help?”
“We’ve got it handled,” I said. “Move along.”
“Horus, don’t be rude.”
“Momma, I’m 16, stop treating me like a little kid.”
“Ok, I’ll try, but we could use all the help we can get. You don’t want to be out here all night do you?”
Dave crouched down in the dirt with us and tried to put Poppa back together. He was no help at all. He didn’t know an asshole from an elbow. Momma and I did most of the work. Her skin was dark from being out in the sun all day. The red from the blood on her hands had turned to brown. She attached the pieces together with black thread. Her actions were quick and precise. Her movements left a smell of copper in the air. While Dave on the other hand, reeked of sheep shit.
Before long, Poppa was back together again in one piece; he just wasn’t moving. Dave brushed his hands off on his robe. “We’ll that wasn’t too bad. Are you going to bury him now?”
Momma shook her head. “I can heal him up.”
Dave laughed and rolled his eyes. “I don’t know much, but dead is dead. I’d love to see otherwise.”
I clenched my beak. That fool knew nothing.
Momma winked at Dave. “Brace yourself.” She bent over Poppa and breathed into his nostrils. Poppa’s shoulder twitched. His eyes flashed open and he sat up with a jolt, gasping for air.
Dave screamed and jumped straight up. He stumbled backwards into the river splashing around a frantic fish on a line. He pointed at Poppa with his mouth open like he’d never seen someone get resurrected. The coward ran off into the desert, kicking up a cloud of red sand behind him.
Poppa cracked his neck. His head almost fell off, but he caught it in time and asked, “What’s for dinner?”
Poppa was the ruler of the underworld. Don’t ask me why, but he thought it’d be more efficient to process the soul of it were split into seven segments like a filtration system. After all, he didn’t want any commoner mucking up the afterlife. Being in charge of the dead wasn’t limited to human souls and included animals, bugs and plants. That translated into a lot of parchment that needed to be filled out properly. More often than not, he’d come home late, bringing his work with him. There were always little pieces of souls running around, getting into the cabinets or hiding under the couch. Some would get a hold of one of Poppa’s strings and the next thing you know one of his arms or legs would be scattered across the floor. Momma was always in a good spirit about putting Poppa back together.
Then one day Momma said she was going out to the store to get a pack of Egyptian Deities cigarettes. I waited around with Poppa all day for her to get back. Part of a soul of a fern plant got a hold of a string holding Poppa’s torso together and he fell to pieces. I tried to get him back together as best I could, but I needed Momma there. She never took that long at the store before. So I went out to look for her.
I headed for the market place. It was late and the crowds were small. I looked around the booths. She was nowhere in sight. I came across a man who asked, “What are you looking for?”
“I am looking for my Momma. Tall woman, long black hair, red dress, crown made of two antelope antlers with a gold disc between them. Can you tell me where she is?”
“She’s not here anymore,” the man replied. “I overheard her say she was going into the desert.”
I crossed into the desert. The sun was setting and it was getting colder. I followed behind a caravan trail. I must’ve spooked the camels because when they saw me, they shifted from a lot trot to a full on gallop.
I followed them until I came across a small village. Calling it a village was being generous. There were some tents, some sheep in makeshift pens. A few people came out of the tents when they realized there was a stranger in their midst. They had long shaggy beards and sand fell from their shoulders. Some children ran out to see me, and their chubby mothers ushered them back inside. The men muttered among themselves, “Another one?”
“Did a woman come through here?”
“We know who you’re looking for,” they said. “She’s still here.” They pointed to a tent at the far end of their collective.
There was a light coming from inside the tent, and laughter. Momma’s laughter. I rushed around the side and there was Momma and that bastard Dave. For an instant I thought she was eating his face. When I realized what she was doing, mine almost melted off, because she wasn’t trying to eat him, she was kissing him.
After that, Momma and Poppa got a divorce. They split custody. I got to spend the weekends with my Poppa. That meant that I had to spend five full days around Dave. Poppa wasn’t taking the break up well. I’d come back after a long week to find him spread out on the carpet. I’d spend the whole weekend putting him back together by myself, even though I knew the moment I was out the door, he would fall back into chunks.
I hated every minute about the long week with Dave. He was boring and had this goofy look on his face that made me want to hock up the disgusting food he served. His sheep were smarter than he was. They kept getting out and getting into the tents, or on the tents (don’t ask me how), or just running off. Dave tried to recruit me to bring in the fold. Fat chance. I had better things to do than chase after fuzz balls.
I spent my time in the tent trying to avoid Dave’s terrible family. They were awful. They smelled bad and there were dozens of them running around. Their kids kept trying to get a look at me through holes in the tent. “What are you looking at?” I’d scream and they’d run off crying. Like they’ve never seen someone with a falcon head before. Damn hillbillies. They didn’t like Momma or me either. They didn’t care for outsiders, which was fine with me. The feeling was mutual. I wanted to burn down the tents, especially the one with Dave inside. He was so greasy, I’m sure he’d go up in flames nice and fast.
I had to do something about this. “Momma, how much longer is going to go on?”
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“What’s so great about the terrible Dave?”
“I think he’s pretty wonderful. Besides, we’ll all be spending a lot more time together.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
She held out her hand.
“What am I looking at?” I asked.
She pointed to a small band with a dingy little stone. “Dave proposed. We’re getting married!”
I spent the next day in the tent, stuck in a daze and pretended to be invisible. Dave came inside.
“Hey there, Horus. Can we talk?”
“Call me crazy, but I have a feeling that you don’t like me too much.”
“No, what makes you say that? You’re my favorite person in the whole wide fucking world. I was thinking about getting your face tattooed on my chest and your name on my nuts.”
“We’re not very big on tattoos here,” Dave said.
“I hate you so much right now.”
“That’s what I wanted to talk to you about. Listen, you and I should bond,” he said.
“That’s not going to happen.”
“Your mom wants us to get along. And I think I have a good idea for us to start to warm up to one another.”
“I don’t want to hear it.”
“That’s too bad, because I want to invite you to my bachelor party.”
“Really? I’ve never been to one of those before.”
“Yeah, it just the guys having a good time. So what do you say?”
“Well, it could be fun.”
“We head out tonight. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.” Dave put his hand on my shoulder.
“Touch me again, and I’ll rip your arm off.”
A bunch of us took donkeys into the city. It was fitting to see Dave on an ass. We found a bar. It was literally a hole in a wall. Everyone seemed so standoffish, but screw those guys. Dave handed me a drink.
“It’s called beer.”
I sniffed it. “What’s this made out of?”
“Basically it’s wet bread.”
“And it’s good?”
“I have a feeling you’ll like it.” Dave winked.
My memory got a little spotty after that. We wandered in the streets and for once, and don’t ask my why, but Dave didn’t seem like such a piece of shit. The food stopped tasting like garbage left out in the sun. I couldn’t get enough of it. We tried to out belch one another. I reached down deep and let one rip so loud that it blew all their beards back.
We laughed and hugged and ended up somewhere, I don’t know where, but there was music, drums and lyres, and women wearing only see-through silk shawls and brass bells that jingled when they shook their hips. Their eyes were painted a deep shade of turquoise and their lips were bright like lava. The women rolled on the floor, kicking and twisting their legs, letting their fingers and tongues explore each other’s bodies as the men threw coins at them.
One of the women pulled me out of the crowd. Everyone cheered and clapped. Up close, she was covered in tattoos. It was some kind of writing. I had had too much to drink to decipher those hieroglyphics. She pushed me back into a chair. Normally, I would never let anyone try to push me around like that, but my head was swimming. She planted her feet at my sides and rubbed her pelvis in my face. I stuck my tongue out to licking her through the fabric, and she pulled back. I looked up at her and she pushed her hips right back in my face, grinding forward and back. Then she started thrusting her pelvis into my beak. She didn’t even start off slow my grinding against me, oh no, she was all like bang, bang, bang. I was stunned and loved every minute of it until she clamped her legs with all her strength together like a nutcracker. I remember seeing an electric flash of red and then I blacked out.
In the morning, my head was pounding, my mouth tasted like blood and vomit. The morning light burned my eyes. As they adjusted, I saw the people from our group passed out. The dancing girls were nowhere in sight. I rolled over and found part of a woman’s arm was next to me in the straw. I found a basin of water and got a good look at myself. A crack ran through my beak. It looked like half of it was going to fall off. I don’t know how, but I knew it was all Dave’s fault and I was never going to forgive him.
The day of the wedding, I stood beside Momma and Dave at the entrance of the tent with a bandage over my beak and my arms crossed over my chest. I asked Momma to heal my beak, but she told me to wait. I couldn’t believe her. I was in serious pain and she was acting like it was no big deal.
Dave looked like a peasant in comparison to Momma. She was dressed in fine white linen with gold thread embroidered around the hem. Her short black hair was styled back with a white band of cloth looping through her locks like a twisting serpent. He wore his one dingy robe. They stood hand in hand to greet the guests. This was going to be a living nightmare.
The guests began to arrive, and just like me, none of them looked like they wanted to be there. Dave’s parents were first to show up. His mother and father in their shawls didn’t even look my Momma in the eye. They looked at Dave and shook their ends and shuffled past them kicking up a cloud of sand as they went. The only difference with his parents and my grandma and grandpa were that they were better dressed. Grandpa Geb, was in a gold tunic and emerald headdress and Grandma Nut wore a sky blue dress with blue armlets and her hair braided with a red chord. The looked down their noses at Dave and strutted into the tent.
Dave invited his cousin Jacob and his wives, Bilhah, Zilpah, Leah and Rachel and of course they dragged along their kids: Judah, Dinah, Rebuen, Benjamin, Levi, Simeon, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh, Gad and Zebulun. Dave said one was missing from the group, It was hard enough to keep the names of everyone in his family in order. They muttered, “Shiksa goddess” as they passed by.
Momma managed to convince her side of the family to attend. Her bridesmaids got there early to support her. There was the Cat-headed Bast, Swequet, with her hair done up like a scorpion and the lumbering hippo-size maid of honor Tawaret. I couldn’t tell if she was pregnant, but I was too afraid to congratulate her incase I was wrong.
There was my jackal-headed cousin Anubis and my dung beetle-headed great, great uncle Khepri. Along with them was the sunny uncle, Ra, and the stormy uncle, Set. Set was in one of his cloudy moods. He had face like an anteater with rectangular rabbit ears. He was the one who cut up Poppa and scattered him in the Nile. In a way, if it weren’t for him, none of this would’ve happened
“Why did you invite him?” I asked. “He’s just going to cause trouble.”
“Trust me,” Momma said. “Things get crazy when you don’t invite some chaos in. I’ve got a distant cousin, a water nymph who married a mortal and they sent out invites to everybody but chaos. And believe me, she showed up and threw everything out of whack. As long as we keep him away from any apples, we should be in good shape.”
The last one in was the Ibis-headed Thoth. He went at a slow pace and carried a large book. He was going to be leading the ceremony. I could tell he wasn’t thrilled about participating. “If everyone is ready,” he said, “I guess we can begin this thing.”
Everyone got settled inside. Even though this ceremony was about bringing two people and two families together, the guests were split right down the middle. I walked over to uncle Set. He pulled out a hidden flask from his waistband. He took a long swig so that the lump in his neck bobbed up and down. He licked his lips and noticed me standing next to him. He offered me a sip. The burning sensation of bile bubbled up in my throat. “I’ll pass.”
“This is a travesty,” Set said and took another sip.
“Someone should do something to stop this.”
“That would be nice.”
“You shouldn’t hold your peace forever.”
“It wouldn’t do any good,” I said. “Momma will never listen to me.
“Of course she will. Just read the crowd. They’ll be behind you. Give them a voice since they’re too scared to do it themselves. With them behind you, it’ll be the wake up call she needs to put an end to this.”
It was an interesting suggestion. I’d wait for the right moment.
Momma sat in a wicker chair, which I guess was supposed to be a throne. She wore a veil over her face. Dave stood up and cleared his throat. “On the sixth day God created male and female. He started with man and called him Adam. Yet, Adam was lonely and so God made Eve from and for Adam.”
Adam and Eve? I had never heard of these people before.
“And Adam and Eve,” Dave said, “became one flesh—”
“Yeah, this girl comes from a people with extra flesh on their schmeckles,” one of the called out. Dave’s guest laughed.
I bit down in a rage and nearly screamed in pain. Momma could see that I was hurting. She patted the air and mouthed the word, “Easy.”
Dave went on to say, “The Lord and his two companions appeared to Abraham in the plains of Mamre while he sat at the tent door in the heat of the day. Abraham made them a meal of water, bread, cakes, beef, butter and milk. The Lord asked where Sarah was—”
“She is my sister,” another one called out. Dave’s guests snickered, whispered and pointed at Momma. Sure Momma and Poppa were brother and sister, but it was the south and that kind of thing was normal.
Thoth led the bride and groom under the crappiest tent I had ever seen. It was just four poles with a cloth on top of it. They called it a Chuppah. I don’t know why they didn’t keep it simple just call it garbage instead.
Dave’s family was upset about unveiling Momma because it was her second marriage and that particular part of the service was only intended for a first marriage. However Dave insisted on having it. These people were so picky about their traditions. Dave stood in front of Momma while the mothers and fathers shuffled around Dave and Momma with candles shaking their heads. Dave lifted the veil and said, “Sister, may you become the mother of bajillions and gazillions.
“That’s not even a real word,” I said under my breath.
“Let our children conquer and possess the cities of their enemies.”
Another baby? I never thought of that before. I couldn’t stand the idea of thinking them sharing the same tent. Of course a child would be the end result. A child half god and half human would be like some kind of cripple.
Thoth rose. “Welcome everyone. I’m not used to these particular customs, so I’ll be reading them. I’d like to thank Dave for reciting all this to me so I could take notes. I’ll leave this copy here with you in case you ever want to add something. You’ll first learn how to read and write, but that’s another matter entirely.”
“NO!” I shouted. Everyone turned to me. I leapt into the crowd of mortals and clawed at the frail limbs and squishy bellies. The men gathered their pitchforks and torches against my godly relatives. Fire and brimstone erupted in the tent. The ground split open from the sheer amount of unholy terror gathered in one place.
“Horus!” Momma shouted. All eyes turned to her and the assembly went quiet.
“No Momma, I can’t. This is wrong. What about Poppa? What about our old life? I liked how things were and then you had to go and change everything. And for what? This loser?”
Momma stepped out from the Chuppah. She walked over to me and put her hands on my shoulders. “Honey, I wasn’t happy. I hadn’t been happy for a long time. Don’t you want that for me?”
“Can’t you find that without him? It’s disgusting. And the thought of you having his child. It’d probably end up being some kind of goat demon.”
Momma smiled and shook her head. “I know this hasn’t been easy for you, but I want you to know that everything will be ok.” She put her hand on my beak and healed the crack. Then she put her hand over my heart and softened it. I didn’t realize that my heart had fractured too. For the first time, I saw how much love Momma had for Dave. I still didn’t like him, but if he could bring some joy into Momma’s life, then I could stand to have him around.
“Better?” She asked.
I nodded. After that, the whole mood of the guest shifted. The room was warm and full of love. It was like Momma healed the whole assembly.
“So, if we are done with the interruption, then we can continue,” Thoth said. He flipped ahead in his book and read, “Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the Universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine.”
“Amen,” everyone said.
“Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the Universe, Who has created everything for your glory.”
“Amen,” everyone said.
“Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the Universe, Creator of human beings.”
“Amen,” everyone said.
“Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the Universe, Who has fashioned human beings in your image, according to your likeness and has fashioned from it a lasting mold. Blessed are You, Lord, Creator of Human Beings.”
“Amen,” everyone said.
“Bring intense joy and exultation to the barren one through the ingathering of her children amidst her in gladness. Blessed are You, Lord, Who gladdens us through her children.”
“Amen,” everyone said.
“Gladden the beloved companions as You gladdened Your creatures in the Garden of Eden. Blessed are You, Lord, Who gladdens groom and bride.
“Amen,” everyone said.
“Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the Universe, Who created joy and gladness, groom and bride, mirth, glad song, pleasure, delight, love, brotherhood, peace, and companionship. Lord, our God, let there soon be heard in the cities and the streets the sound of joy and the sound of gladness, the voice of the groom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the groom’s jubilance from their canopies and of the youths from their song-filled feasts. Blessed are you Who causes the groom to rejoice with his bride.”
“Amen,” everyone said.
Thoth wrapped a glass in a cloth and set it on the floor. Dave raised his foot and stomped down on it, shattering the glass. The guests cheered. Momma and Dave kissed. I still wouldn’t have minded if Dave sliced his foot on the glass, but now I also fine with the idea of Dave not being in pain. My mother and her new husband walked down the aisle, grinning hand in hand.
And I clapped for them too. I thought about a being a brother. All right. A brother. It was then that I promised myself that I would teach that goat spawn everything I knew.