“How’s Shane for a baby name?” Bro asked, holding the phone against his ear with his shoulder as he stared at drooling, gurgling baby in his arms. He could hear his friend, Roxy, put the martini glass down for once in her life and she hummed as if she was actually thinking about it.
“That’s a shitty name.” She said, voice not quite slurred. Apparently he had caught her early in her drinking binges for once. Jackpot.
Bro grimaced, sitting down on his couch and hopping up immediately when he felt an over-stuffed rump dig into his own rump. He bent over, beginning to clear the smuppets off the couch so he could sit down without ending up in a nest of smuppets as he spoke, leaning his head away from tiny, pudgy hands that reached for his glasses. “Dwayne. Zeke. Dick. Doniqua.” He heard Roxy spit her drink and begin to choke and he paused, wondering what she was laughing at. Was she watching TV instead of listening to him?
“Doniqua?” Roxy asked around fits of hysterical giggles. He frowned and straightened, holding the space baby at arms length to keep his glasses safely out of reach. He wasn’t an expert on babies, but he was pretty sure that sharp, pointy pieces of plastic wasn’t good for them. Only because he learned from the first time he had dropped glasses on the baby Strider’s face that if a baby can reach it, they will chew on it.
He was still afraid there were pieces of plastic in the kid’s stomach.
“What? Doniqua’s a good name. I knew a girl with that name. Sweet girl.”
“That’s racial stereotyping and I’m giving you the head-shake of disapproval.” She started laughing again, continuing even when Bro tried talking over her. “Seriously. What do I name this thing? And why does it smell like a sewer?” She laughed even harder at him, apparently more than amused by his lack of knowledge of how to take care of a baby. “I’m serious! He fuckin—shit—cock! Goddamn—UGH! Poop!”
Not cursing around a baby was harder than it looked.
“Exactly, Bro. Poop. Yer lil’ bundle o’ joy just pooped.” Roxy slurred.
Bro stared at the baby, groaning a little in distress. He didn’t have any diapers. He didn’t have any of those wet wipes. He had a towel and some toilet paper and some duct tape, that was it, and that would have to do until he could get to the store and buy actual baby things. Roxy, having adopted her own little bundle of joy (a girl named Rose), was, thankfully, able to sort of talk him through the task of changing a baby’s diaper, although she was apparently appalled when she heard the sound of duct tape being torn.
“What’re you doin’?” there was an edge in her voice that made little warning bells go off in Bro’s head. You know, the one that lets everyone know that they should stop what they’re doing and think. Apparently that tone of voice worked even on someone as hard-headed as Bro, who paused, holding the tape over the duck print towel-slash-diaper.”…Making the diaper stay on him.” He said in an almost guilty tone.
He heard her slap her forehead and shrugged, proceeding to use smaller strips of duct tape to keep the diaper on despite her slurred protests that “that’s not how you keep a diaper on.” Bro leaned back to admire his handy work, hands held out in front and to the sides like he was about to give a good old fashioned fire-and-brimstone speech. The baby stared up at him, apparently not quite sure how to handle the towel and tape that separated him from the kitchen table that was mostly unused.
Or, well, it was going to go unused NOW because he was never going to get the baby smell out of it, he was certain of it.
Just when he thought he could breathe easy and turn his attention back to what he was going to call the infant, the baby started crying.
Not just crying, but full-blown wailing, and Bro had no idea what had happened or even what to do. The phone fell from his ear and he did the only thing he could do: try and shush the baby while gesturing frantically at no one because “shh, shh, please stop crying” wasn’t working. He grabbed up the phone and held it to his ear as he yelled over the screamed sobs of the baby, “Why is he crying?! What do I do?!”
“First,” Roxy said in a surprisingly calm voice. “Calm yer man titties. Caaaaaalm them…it’ll be fine, okay? Take a deep breath—”
“If I do that, I’ll get a lungful of air that still smells like ass!”
“Oh. Well, then don’t take a deep breath, but calm dooooooown. Alright. Now, ya gotta list in—listen to me, okay? Every word, ya gotta listen to.” He grimaced as the reality of the situation sunk in. He was taking baby-raising advice from a drunk that once locked her baby in the liquor cabinet by accident. “Are you gonna listen?”
He groaned in distress, nodding and gesturing with his free hand as he watched the baby kick its stubby legs and cry. “Alright, alright! Just—what. Do. I. Fucking. Do?”
“A’right, you gotta pick the little guy up and, and hold him against your chest. Kinda like you’re gonna rock him to sleep—which is exactly what you’re gonna do.”
Alright. Rocking the baby to sleep? He could do that. Sure. It sounded easier than changing a diaper at least. He swallowed and held the phone against his ear with his shoulder, picking up the baby and holding him to his chest. For a brief moment, the space-rock baby seemed to calm down, only to burst into tears just when Bro though he could relax.
“Shhh…” He gently rocked his arms, listening as Roxy told him that babies didn’t like to be rocked too fast or thrown into the air. How she found out the latter, he really didn’t want to know, so he didn’t ask. He focused on her voice and on the baby as the blubbering child began to calm down. “Shh, shh….it’s alright, little guy.” He murmured, smiling slightly as he lifted one hand and rested it on the baby’s tiny hands.
He paused his movements when tiny, stubby fingers wrapped around his index finger and the baby smiled, red eyes squinted from the wideness of the smile. He smiled a little at the baby and lifted him a little higher, grinning. “There’s a smile…” He blinked when the baby let go of his finger and grabbed his shades, tiny fingers smearing drool and snot on the lenses, but Bro was surprisingly okay with it.
This kid was his. Maybe not genetically, but he had to take care of him. Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad. But the kid still needed a name.
Oh well. For now, Bro was content just calling him “kid” or “baby.” Later, he decided he would google baby names that didn’t suck and started with the letter “D” (and that was actually what he searched). He almost forgot that Roxy was even on the line, only remembering when she said with a smile in her voice, “Welcome to parrothood, Broseph.”
“It’s ‘parenthood,’ you drunk dingo.” He replied with a chuckle. “I’ll talk to you later. I’m puttin’ the kid to bed so I can search for a name for him in peace.” They bid each other goodbye (and goodluck), and Bro hung up, straightening and tossing the phone somewhere into the living room. “Alright, little guy.” He said, eyeing the child in his arms as if he was waiting for him to start crying again. “Let’s find a drawer to put you in while big brother Strider finds you a name.”
In the end, he settled on “Dave,” partially because it was a “D” name that didn’t suck, and partially because of what the name meant. Not that Dave would ever figure out that the name meant everything that Bro couldn’t say to him because he was incapable of expressing emotions like a normal human being even though the kid couldn’t even form words yet.
Parenthood was going to be hard, annoying, and complicated, but Bro was pretty sure he could do it.
At least the baby wouldn’t end up locked up in a liquor cabinet.