Baby George

Baby George

Baby George lived with his parents, we presume, in a condominium on our street in a suburb of Phoenix in 1965, where the heat rose in shimmering waves from the blacktop and cars. He was six years old and always messing around in the street, riding his one-speed around, staring at people, shouting questions, offering unsolicited advice whenever you had your hood up. If there had been a hobo circle on the block, chafing their hands around a barrel at midnight, Baby George would have been there telling stories about his babysitter Esmeralda.

My father had opted for white gravel for the front lawn instead of grass for financial reasons, due to the pain in the ass of keeping a grass green, but it couldn’t be just the gravel, we were not fucking bums. So he and my older brother dropped a number of extremely heavy, spiny cacti and succulents for decoration into different holes they dug around the lot, including the prize of the yard and street, a great mother-in-law’s cushion, a tubby golden basket cactus that took both of them and two gentlemen neighbors to lift out of the truck, drag across the driveway, and plop into its hole.

Apparently my brother and dad had just gone out into the wilderness and dug this monster out of the sand from between the tumbleweeds some early dawn, but it cost them a lot of sweat and enjambed spines to do the job, and they had to avoid the border patrol to get it, and they knew they were men to have done it.

My dad and brother and all the neighbors stood back and gazed in pride and satisfaction at a job well done at the golden ball cactus, even people from several blocks away crowding around to see the huge hirsute yellow and purple plant where it sneered in the crippling rays of the setting sun.

Several mornings later at 4 am with the sky dead and brown my dad jumped out of bed because the dog started going crazy at the sliding glass door and my parents could hear a strange scuffling out front of the house, and when my dad got out on the front stoop and flicked on the light there was Baby George. He had our golden basket cactus on a piece of cardboard and was dragging it away towards his house. He had already made it to the sidewalk and a ways down the street, tugging for all he was worth, in his little pyjamas.

What in the hell are you doing, Baby George, my dad asked, standing over him in his own PJs, but Baby George just looked at him like he was a bug, then ran off into the night. My father stood there looking at Baby George’s work in awe. That little son of a, he muttered. He got my brother out of bed and after about thirty minutes of hard pulling they got the cactus back up the driveway, over the gravel, and back into its hole.

They put the dog out front for the rest of the night, then next day put up a little makeshift fence around the golden basket cactus, but Baby George had moved on to other projects by then.

At a barbecue the following month we were all chased inside by a giant dust storm that descended on our street and lives like the hindside of a happy dog, flop, and we were huddled inside looking out as it passed, when we heard a kind of hishing, hwashing sound out there. Aunt Jackie stuck her head out of the sliding glass door and said, Hello? Who is that out there?

At that moment the storm was over and the whole immediate family, extended family, and neighbors, peering through the glass, saw Baby George standing on our back patio in his tiny pants, not at all concerned by the flicking sand, taking a long impossibly hard piss against the side of our house. We realized he had cleared five feet of sand off the gravel when we went to look at it later.

Hey Baby George! shouted my dad, but Baby George just looked at us like we were part of a wild west movie set, the part with just painted cacti and rocks, then ran round the back of the house.

That fucking kid, said my mother, taking the plastic wrap off the jello salad.

On another occasion my brother was driving to town with David Mack, they were both teenage boys, when they passed Baby George on the side of the road near a vineyard on the outskirts of our little burb. Baby George’s mouth and shirt were completely stained purple with grape juice because he had been poaching the sour fruit of the vine, and my brother and David Mack must have glowered at him because Baby George frowned back at them by his fallen bicycle as they crept past in the big truck, raised his itty bitty middle finger, and shouted, Fuck you queers!

David Mack slammed on the brakes, brought the Chevy to a heavy screeching stop, slammed it in reverse, gunning it fifty feet back to the one-speed bike in the dust, and jumped out to rearrange Baby George’s face. By that time Baby George had vamoosed into the tall vines, being no fool, and though my brother and David Mack ran after the little son of a bitch through the vines into the middle, the boy had vanished.

Making their way back around the old hothouse my brother and David Mack saw the little form of Baby George in the cab of David Mack’s dad’s truck, struggling with the gear box. As they ran up with a shout the truck jolted into motion, paused, and then accelerated, zig-zagging slightly, and righting itself on a course for the big city, Baby George’s head with its shock of idiot blond hair just visible above the driver’s seat.

Baby George, get the hell back here! the young chums shouted, running behind but unable to catch the baby.

Six miles outside of Phoenix Baby George finally ran that truck into a gulch, but not out of incompetence as a getaway driver, no man. According to eyewitnesses Baby George brought the truck to a stop, backed it up across two lanes of highway, then gunned it to his left off the gully, leaping from the driver’s side door as the truck went off, where he clawed to back to his feet and watched her go over.

The police were there in a jiffy but Baby George had vamoosed.

The insurance covered everything but David Mack’s family were found at fault, since Baby George was not to be found to be questioned, and his parents were always at work.

David Mack took Baby George’s bicycle back to Baby George’s house on our street completely intact, in role of peacemonger and upstanding citizen, but Baby George’s mom and dad just looked at him from their concrete stoop like he was a creature from a distant planet.

Fucking Baby George’s mom, muttered David Mack, and when he looked back at Baby George’s mom she may have flickered for a second with large ovaloid green eyes, was how he told the story.


About the Author

Colin Gee is founder and editor of The Gorko Gazette, teacher and writer. Stories and novellas in The Penult from LEFTOVER Books.


Image by Artur Skoniecki from Pixabay