Not For You Little Man (Story #24)

“Not for you, little man.  Not for you.”  Even muffled by the floor that separated them, Mr. Shea could make out the inflection.  It was his own voice coming back at him like an ancient echo.  His son couldn’t do much that the other kids his age could, but he sure as hell could mimic.  His son was nothing more than a fucking parrot.

When he went downstairs, Mr. Shea saw the banner his wife had hung over the archway wishing Tommy a happy birthday.  Its rainbow colors gave the room more optimism than it had had for a long time.  He walked quickly past it and into the pantry.  A bottle of Jamesons, a glass, and a chair, not perfect, but good enough to get through what was coming.

For the next two hours, Mr. Shea sat in a corner as his living room filled with people he didn’t know.  Like most things in the house: they were his wife’s.  Specialists and therapists, all of them united by the cause of his son, who was still yelling out his phrase-of-the-day:  “Not for you, little man.  Not for you.”

As annoying as that was, in truth, it wasn’t so much Tommy’s voice as much as the specialists’ reaction to it that got to Mr. Shea.  Everyone complimenting the impersonation.  They admired Tommy’s talent and said as much to Mr. Shea, who, in turn, wanted to tell them to go home before he hurt them.

After another hour, try as he might, the whiskey alone wasn’t cutting it.  Something else had to be done.  He reached in his pocket and found a little piece of paper that an associate had given him a few days before.  Something to mark the occasion, the man had told him.

“What are you doing?” Mr. Shea heard his wife call out as he grabbed Tommy’s arm and dragged him outside.

“A father’s prerogative,” Mr. Shea said, and with that, he was out of the house and in his car with Tommy before his wife could come out and yell at him.  That, most certainly, would come.

Twenty minutes later, they arrived at the address on the piece of paper.  East Cambridge had once been all black, but now, it was Portuguese.  Mr. Shea knew nothing about Portugal aside from the fact that port came from there and some fleeting memory about a disaster in Lisbon he’d learned in school.   In any case, it wasn’t a part of town he’d come to on his own.  It was all too much.  He wasn’t sure what he meant by that, but those two words were what came to mind.

Still, he was pleasantly surprised by the woman who greeted them at the door.  She was well-dressed, professional-looking with long, black hair clipped back.  Mr. Shea wondered if all Portuguese women looked like her, but he had enough sense not to ask.  “You’re a very elegant woman,” he said instead, though he was a little louder than he would’ve liked.

The woman smiled and looked over at Tommy.

“He’s ok.  A little nervous,” Mr. Shea assured her.  The woman nodded again and then showed him and Tommy to a room at the back of the house.  The last dregs of sunlight dripping through the window were heightened by the plain whiteness of the room.

Within a few minutes, another woman walked in—a blonde this time.  She didn’t hesitate as she approached Tommy.  “Your dad’s a pretty generous guy, Thomas.”

“Tommy,” Mr. Shea interrupted.  “He likes Tommy better.”

The blond didn’t look over but nodded.  She brought Tommy over to the bed and sat him down in front of her and then put his hand on her breast.

“He’s a natural,” Mr. Shea said, again louder than he would’ve liked.

“Usually, I don’t let people watch,” the blond said, still not looking over.

“Right.  Right.  Got it.”  Mr. Shea said and got up to leave.

“Tantrums are bad.  They’re bad for you.  They’re bad for me.  They’re bad for everyone!!”  What had been a loose, confused hand on a breast now morphed into something painful.

“Tommy,” the blond said.  “Not so hard.  Tommy!”

By the time Mr. Shea realized what was going on, he heard the thwack of hand-on-flesh, and the blond was now on the bed, a drop of blood falling from her nose about to spoil the whiteness of the comforter.

“You’re lucky he’s a retard,” the blond said, looking over at Mr. Shea for the first time.

“He’s not retarded,” Mr. Shea snapped.

“Not for you little man,”

“Tommy.  Stop.  Please. Stop,” Mr. Shea begged.

“What kind of dad are you, anyway?” the blond asked.

“Shut up!”  For the first time that day, Mr. Shea hit the sweet-spot:  just loud enough to make his point.

“Take your son the hell out of here. Now!”

“Not for you little man.”

The blond giggled in spite of herself.  “Hey, that’s you, right?  He’s pretty good.  I mean, for a retard.”

Before he knew it, Mr. Shea had crossed the room and was clutching her jaw.  He wasn’t sure if he should hit her or not, but before he could decide, a large, well-dressed man came rushing in.  The man had an accent, and for a moment, right before his hairy knuckles came down on him, M. Shea wondered if Portuguese men were all as big.  Again, he thought better than to ask.

That night, sleeping on the sofa, his left eye bloated and blue, his wife still ranting from her room, Mr. Shea smiled to himself.  While the large man punched him, Tommy had looked on jumping up and down.  If Mr. Shea didn’t know better, it looked like he was actually smiling.  That day, Tommy had not only turned sixteen and touched a breast, he had witnessed his drunk old man get pummeled and enjoyed it.  Maybe, Mr. Shea thought, just maybe, his son was a step closer to being more than just a fucking parrot.


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Categories: fiction

Author:the circular runner

g. martinez cabrera currently lives in San Francisco with his lovely and talented wife. He holds degrees from Columbia and from the Harvard Divinity School where he spent three years thinking about lofty things. Since then, he tries to write some lofty and some not-so-lofty things down so others can see how lofty he sometimes is. When he’s not writing or spending time with said wife, he tortures young people with learning. He blogs at and Tumbls at

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