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  Table of contents Issue Twenty-three BAD SHAKES



ama laughs. I like when Mama laughs.

Everything is loud. Lots of clink clink and clack clack. Lots of faraway mama and papa voices. Two papa voices and one mama voice are closer to Mama. Mama talks. “More water for me. Thank you.” Other mama voice laughs. Mama makes mash mash, starts bubbles and gurgles. I get to taste soon. Mama moves. I kick. Mama stops. Soft scratch scratch outside. Mama laughs. Other mama and papa voices laugh. When Mama laughs I feel shakes, feel Mama’s voice tickle tummy and toes. I kick, Mama laughs more. Feels good. Good shakes. I like when Mama laughs.

“So, the famous El Coyote. Doesn’t look like much from the decor,” other papa voice talks.

“Oh, stop it, Jay.” Mama talks. “This place is wonderful. Have a drink.”

I like Mama’s voice. Other mama and papa voices are always fuzzy and far away. Can’t feel them in tummy and toes. No shakes. No tickles. Not even Papa’s voice when Papa talks close. Papa’s voice almost gives tickles. Almost tingles tummy and toes. Papa’s voice feels good, but Papa hasn’t talked in a lot.

“You’re probably the only thing keeping this place in business. Aren’t you sick of it?”

“No, I am not.” Mama talks. “Why on Earth are you being such a stick in the mud? You don’t hear Abigail and Wojciech making a fuss. Perhaps next time you can wait for us back at the house if the restaurant isn’t to your liking.”

Other papa voice talks, “Alright, alright. No need to get sore, there, Ms. Monroe.”

“…You know I hate that.” Mama moves, squishes me. I kick. Kick. Kick. She stops squishing. More mash mash, more bubbles and gurgles. I taste. Taste is good. Makes me jumpy. I kick, Mama moves.

Other mama voice talks. “Oh, dear. Enough already. Can’t we just let that poor girl alone? She’s been gone, what, five years already?”

“Seven, actually,” other papa voice talks. “But you wouldn’t know it. I don’t think anybody will ever stop talking about her. Though I do think our lovely starlet here is primed to take her place.”

“That is such nonsense, Jay. I really wish everyone would stop with that.” Mama’s voice gets louder. Gives me shakes.

“Is it that silly, really? You’re both blond, you’re both beautiful, talented…”

“Enough, Jay. Really!” Loud bump. “The press, now you? Honestly, I’ve had it with that!”

Clink clink, clack clack.

No mama or papa voices for a lot.

“I’m…I’m sorry, everyone.” Mama talks. “I just…I thought Roman would be back from London by now. I’m just afraid…”

Other mama voice talks soft. “There, there, now. It’s alright, Sharon. Everything’s alright. He’ll be back soon.”

Mama shakes. Mama’s sad. I don’t like when Mama’s sad. When Mama’s sad I feel bad shakes and lots of fast thump thump…thump thump inside. Bad tickles in tummy and toes. When Mama’s sad, Mama squishes me. I scrunch up. I try to stop feeling Mama’s shakes.

Only very far away mama and papa voices for a lot.

Other mama voice talks again. “Well…well… I for one think you’re much prettier than Marilyn, anyway. And a far better actress.”

Other papa voice talks soft. “No question about it. No question.”

“Silly, indeed. The comparison...well, it just isn’t worthy of your attention,” other mama voice talks.

Mama slows shakes. Slows thump thump…thump thump. “Thank you, but it’s still ridiculous. Marilyn was Marilyn, and I’m me. There couldn’t be another Marilyn, and I’m certainly not trying to be anything like her.”

“It would be nice to be as well remembered, wouldn’t it?” Other papa voice talks. “You know, life is a flimsy thing. One minute you’re here, the next... it’d just be nice to be remembered for something after you’ve gone, is all. And she’s done a fine job at that. Here we are talking about her.”

“Not all of us by choice, Jay.” Mama moves, talks louder. “And as for being remembered, I’m not finished yet. This conversation, however…”

Clink clink. Clack clack. Only very far away mama and papa voices all around.

Other mama voice talks. “Well…Um…Well, this is delicious. Just delicious. How’s yours, Wojciech?”

Funny papa voice talks. “Mmm. Yes. It is good. Very Spicy.”

Mama does mash mash, gurgles and bubbles a lot. Tastes good. “Well, then,” Mama voice talks. “It seems you’re outnumbered, Jay.”

Other mama and papa voices laugh. No feeling in tummy and toes.


I like when Mama makes happy sounds. Happy sounds make good shakes, good tickles in tummy and toes. Mama makes voice long and loud, makes voice same as happy sounds. “We all live in a Yellow Submarine…Yellow Submarine…Yellow Submarine…” I feel Mama’s voice all over when she makes happy sounds. Feels good. I kick. Mama makes voice long and loud again. I kick.

I hear Knock knock far away.


“May I come in?” other papa voice talks.

“Of course, Jay.” Mama talks. “The music isn’t too loud, is it?”

“No, no, not at all. Abigail’s in her room, reading, and Wojciech’s on the couch, out like a light.”

“Well, why don’t you close the door, just to be safe?” Mama talks. “I’d hate to bother anybody so late.”

“Sure, sure.”

I hear thunk far away.

“I think you’d have competition, anyway. Wojciech snores like a rhino. I’m amazed he doesn’t wake himself with that racket.”

Mama goes away from happy sounds. Moves, squishes me. Mama bounces. Mama stops making voice same as happy sounds. Mama talks soft. “Yes, Abigail complains about it all the time. Poor girl.”

“She complains about a lot, from what I gather. Those two aren’t gonna last, are they?”

Mama squishes. “Who does, these days?”

No mama or papa sounds for a lot. Only faraway happy sounds. We all live in a Yellow Submarine…Yellow Submarine…Yellow Submarine…

“The Beatles? Really? I thought I taught you a thing or two about good music.”

Mama moves. Makes voice louder. “Don’t you mock me, Jay. You know I love this.”

“What about Mingus? Coltrane? Gillespie! What about Gillespie?”

“Sorry, Jay, but Charles Mingus is no Paul McCartney.” Mama laughs.

“That’s just plain wrong. All those 45’s I got you were a waste!”

Other papa voice laughs. Mama laughs. I feel tickles in tummy and toes. I kick. Mama moves. Lots of far away happy sounds. Mama and other papa voice don’t talk for a lot.

“Well, anyway, I’m not in the mood for jazz right now. Charles Mingus is great and all, but it’s not what I put on to make myself feel better.”

Other papa voice talks closer. “What’s the matter?”

Mama squishes. “Oh, Jay. I just don’t know anymore.”

“Is it Roman?”

“You know, he called Debra this afternoon to try and get her and Patti to come over.”

“That’s thoughtful of him.”

“Yes, well, I told Mother to forget it. Roman shouldn’t be sending children to keep me company. He should be here.”

Mama moves. Far away happy sounds get closer, closer, stop.

“I’m sure he’s just tied up. You know how movie shoots can get—especially in Europe. I’m sure he would be here if he could.”

“It’s not just that. I just…I don’t know.” Mama talks soft. “I…I don’t think he’ll ever change, Jay. Not really. He told me he wouldn’t, but I didn’t listen to him. I hoped he would anyway.” Mama makes sad sounds.

“Come, now. I vetted him, remember? He’s a good man.”

“I just want a husband. I want to start a family.” Mama squishes. I feel shakes. Bad tickles in tummy and toes. “I just…he’s…I know he’s out there, Jay. He’s out there doing God knows what with God knows who, acting like a bachelor, and here I am about to burst, all alone. I feel so alone, Jay.” Mama shakes. Mama is sad. I don’t like when Mama is sad. I squish. Bad tickles. Mama moves. Mama squishes.

Other papa voice talks closer. “You’re not alone, Sharon.”

“I just don’t know anymore, Jay.” Mama shakes, makes sad sounds.

“Sharon…" Other papa voice comes Papa close. Feel tiny tickles in tummy and toes. “You know, I...well, I—"

I hear loud THUNK far away.

Mama jumps. “Oh!”

Mama’s voice gets loud. “Who are you? What are you doing in here?” I hear thump thump…thump thump getting faster, louder, inside. Bad shakes.

“Hey...hold on, now.” Other papa voice gets loud. “What...what is this? Who are you? What are you doing?”

Mama shakes a lot. Mama makes loud sounds. “What do you want?”

Angry mama voice talks loud. “GET IN THE LIVING ROOM. NOW.”

“Alright, now,” other papa voice talks. “Calm down. Don’t do anything rash.”


Mama shakes. “Okay. Okay. Oh, God, please don't hurt us.”

Loud thup thup thup thup. Mama moves. Squish. Squish. Mama makes sad sounds.

Other papa voice talks. “Alright, alright, be careful with her. Please. We’re cooperating. Just, please…be careful. She’s—”

Loud bump. Mama shakes. Bad tickles in tummy and toes. Squish. Squish. Squish.

“Please…please…” Loud bump. Mama jumps. I jump. Mama squishes. I squish.

Angry mama voice talks loud. “THAT’S ALL OF ‘EM, TEX.”

Big papa voice talks loud, close. “Down on your stomachs. Do it. Now.”

“Oh, God. Oh, God.” Mama’s voice gives bad shakes.

Other papa voice talks loud. “Please. Please. Can’t you see this woman is pregnant? She can’t lie that way. It will hurt her. Just let me—”

Loud POP.

Bad, bad shakes. Mama jumps, I jump. Mama’s voice gets big. “NO! NO! OH, GOD! JAY! JAY! NO!” Bad shakes. Bad tickles. Loud, fast thump thump…thump thump inside. I feel hot inside. Squish. Squish. Mama’s voice is loud. “JAY!”

Other papa voice is quiet, soft. “Unngh…unngh…"

“NO! NO! JAY! OH, GOD, JAY!” Mama’s voice gets bigger.

Faraway mama and papa voices make sad sounds. Mama shakes. “PLEASE. PLEASE. Why are you doing this? What do you want?”

Other papa voice gets quieter, quieter, softer, softer. “Unngh…unngh…”

Loud shik…shik…shik…shik…shik…

“Oh, God, please. PLEASE. Leave him alone! Leave him! Oh, God.” Mama’s voice hurts. I squish. Louder, faster thump thump…thump thump inside.




“STOP! PLEASE! STOP!” Mama’s voice is big, loud, hurts. Bad, bad shakes. “JAY! OH, MY GOD! PLEASE!”




Other papa voice stops.

Angry mama voice talks loud. “TEX! HEY, TEX! THIS ONE’S LOOSE! HE’S LOOSE! HE’S GETTING AWAY!”

Big papa voice talks fast. “What the...Damn it. He’s outside! C’MON, GIRL! Get ‘em!”

Loud dum dum dum dum dum. Loud screeeee CLAP.

Mama’s voice cries. “Wojciech! Wojciech!” Mama’s voice hurts. Louder, faster thump thump…thump thump inside. Bad shakes. Bad tickles. I squish. “Oh, God. Oh, God.”

Get ‘em! Get ‘em!

Loud screeeee CLAP. Loud dum dum dum.


“WOJCIECH!” Mama shakes, makes sad sounds. Bad tickles in tummy and toes. Squish. Squish. Hotter and hotter inside. “Oh, God. Jay. Oh, God.” Mama moves. Squish. Squish. Squish.

Thump thump…thump thump…thump thump…thump thump louder, faster inside.

No mama or papa sounds for a lot. Mama shakes. Mama moves. Squish. Squish. Thump thump…thump thump…thump thump… Mama’s voice is loud. “Oh, Wojciech. Oh, Abigail. Oh, God…Oh, God…”

Funny papa voice is far away, loud. “No! No! PLEASE! Please! no!”

“C’MON! C’MON!” Big papa voice gives bad, bad shakes.

Mama squishes. Thump thump…thump thump faster, louder, inside. Mama’s voice is big, loud. “Oh, God. Oh, God. OH, GOD. WOJCIECH. PLEASE. PLEASE.”

Funny papa voice talks fast. “PLEASE! Please! no!”

Funny papa voice stops.

Other mama voice is big, loud. Hurts. “NO! OH MY GOD, PLEASE! PLEASE! NO!”

Mama shakes. Mama makes sad sounds. “Oh, God. ABIGAIL! ABIGAIL!” Mama moves. Squish. Squish. Bad shakes. Bad tickles in tummy and toes.

Big papa voice is loud. “Back there! Get her! Get her, dammit!”

Other mama voice makes sad sounds. Loud. “PLEASE! PLEASE! NO!”

Other mama voice stops.

“NO! NO!” Mama’s voice is bigger. Louder. Hotter and hotter inside. Bad gurgles. Mama unsquishes. Mama shakes. Bad shakes. Mama makes sad sounds. Bad squish.

Screeeee CLAP.

Dum dum dum getting louder. Dum dum dum. Loud screeeee CLAP.

“Alright,” big papa voice talks. “Last one. Right here.”

Mama moves. Squish. Thump thump…thump thump faster, louder, faster, louder. Mama’s voice is loud, sad. Hurts. Hot inside. Bad shakes. I squish. “Please. Please. My baby. My baby.” Mama shakes. Mama’s voice gets quieter, softer. Thump thump…thump thump still loud, still fast. “Please. Please. My baby. Please, just let me have my baby. You can take my money. Take all my money.”

Big papa voice talks soft. “Don’t want your money.”

Mama shakes. Thump thump…thump thump gets louder, faster. “You…you can take me. You can take me. You can do whatever you want with me. Just, please, please, let me have my baby. Let me live to have my baby. Spare my baby. Please. Please. I’ll do anything you want.”

Screeeee CLAP.

Dum dum…dum dum…

Angry mama voice talks soft. “Tex...we good?”

Big papa voice laughs. “Oh, yeah. We’re real good.”

I don’t like it when big papa voice laughs.

Mama squishes. Bad shakes. Bad tickles in tummy and toes.

“Please. Please. Take me, just…just please…please spare my baby.”

Big papa voice laughs. “The family ain’t got no use for you or your baby, pig.”

Mama screams.

Loud SHIK. Mama moves, squishes, screaming. “Agh! Ahhhgh!” Thump thump…thump thump…Another SHIK. Mama moves. Mama squishes. “NO! NO!” SHIK…SHIK… “NO! NO! MY BABY! PLEASE! PLEASE!” Bad shakes. Bad gurgles. Bad tingles in tummy and toes. SHIK…SHIK… Squish. Squish. Hotter and hotter inside. Mama makes voice long and loud, but not like happy sounds. No happy sounds. No more happy sounds. “NO! NO! OH, GOD! OH, GOD.”

Thump thump…thump thump…


Bad shakes. Mama shakes. Bad bubbles and gurgles. Loud. I taste inside. Taste is bad. Tummy squishes. SHIK…SHIK…SHIK…SHIK… Mama screams. “NO, PLEASE, GOD!” Thump thump…thump thump… No feeling in toes. Tummy squishes. Mama moves, Mama squishes. Bad taste. Bad tickles. Bad shakes.


Getting cooler inside. Mama’s voice is quieter, softer. Far away. More far away. Mama sounds like other mamas when Mama talks. Far away. Fuzzy. “Mother…” Mama talks, “Mother…mother…mother…”


Thump…thump…thump thump…thump…

Squish. Squish. No feeling in tummy. Mama shakes. I shake.







Mama’s voice stops.

Bubbles and gurgles stop. Bad shakes. Bad tingles in tummy and toes. Cold. Stings me. Mama? Mama? Faraway sounds get fuzzy. Mama? Mama? No more squishes. Bad tingles in tummy and toes. I feel pain. Cold pain. Cold sting. Bad shakes. Mama? Mama? Mama no scream, no make happy sounds. Mama no make sad sounds.

I no laugh.

I no make happy sounds.

Mama? Mama? Mama? Mama…mama…ma—




Angel Eduardo is a writer, musician, and photographer from North Jersey. He has been published in The Caribbean Writer, Label Me Latino Journal, and The Merrimack Review. He is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing for Memoir at CUNY Hunter College. More of his work can be found on his official website, angeleduardo.com.

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