‘Unpredicated’ by Paul Negri

sc july 18

“I’m simply saying that there is no predicate, Odessa. That’s all I’m saying. Please try not to argue, dear.”

You bucket of rotting innards, you sack o’ pus. “Did you see the picture of me on Facebook, Mother? Was it you who posted it? Is that kind of picture allowed? Isn’t that against some law? Or at least propriety? Aren’t there children to consider? And old people?” Why must I carry you on my back like a festering hump?

“But that’s exactly it, Odessa. It’s an illustrative example. That picture has no predicate. You know that. You are bone of my bone, after all.”

Bone of some boner of dubious pedigree. “Of course, Mother. I’m not trying to be argumentative, to argue for the sake of argument, contrarian, no, on the contrary, and I, of all people, with half your chromosomes, perhaps more than half, given your uncertainty of paternal particulars, the primordial soup so stirred, I’m just saying, observing, for the sake of propriety, perhaps some restraint might be in order, given the ubiquity of the Internet, its invasive intrusion, its exponential osmotic permeation, that is to say.”  O boiling boil, O reflux redux, O foul bolus, O peristalsis!

“All the more reason, dear, for no predicate, you see. It’s for the best.”

You burst appendix, you vaginal hematoma, you dithering discharge. “Laudable, Mother, and who would challenge you? Who would have the temerity or interest, credentials or concern, the anomie or ennui? Your colleagues obstreperous, your students obsequious, your lovers obfuscate, or your daughter Odessa, the caretaker of your ruins, as she traverses with gentle tread the conduits of your body and your mind, bound as she is by filial duty and propriety, and under the expectant eyes of the Internet Argus Panoptes.”  Held fast by your muscular mucosa, confined in your atrial chamber, exiled on your islets of Langerhans, O bottomless womb!

“Predicate nothing and the rest will take care of itself, dear.”

Osmatic gangrenous assault, strangulating hernia, nexus of necrosis, O! “I am not opposing you, Mother, not offering resistance, surreptitious or otherwise, not harboring ill will willy-nilly, am no threat, nor ever have been, in vivo or in vitro, even as I tend your most tender particulars, I lift not a hand, not a finger with unfiled nail against you, despite your indecently vulnerable position, legs akimbo, helplessly exposed to meddling diabolic or beatific in ways way beyond conception.” You deviated septum, you obstetric fistula, you wireless streaming septicemia.

“Now, now. A world without predicate, dear, without end.”

Bilious ruptured spleen, metastatic menses, alluvial leukocytes, O pus. “Was it you from the beginning and before, Mother? Famed and infamous, all-caring carnivore, all lips and teeth, vagina dentata, with eyes of steel and gaze of lead, hard staring me smaller and smaller, back to a zygote?”  O crackling snapped synapses, dying dendrites, final cerebrovascular event?

“Please, Odessa. Please, dear. Please.”

“All right. No predicate.” O Mother…O Mamma… O Mommy… O

Paul Negri has twice won the Gold Medal for fiction in the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Writing Competition. His fiction has appeared in The Penn Review, Vestal Review, Pif Magazine, Jellyfish Review, and other publications. He lives and writes in Clifton, New Jersey.

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