Contributor: Jeffrey Albright

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The soft glow and continuous sounds of medical equipment emanated from the rooms lining the ICU. Percy Baggett, an awkwardly skinny man, cleaned with purpose in his neatly pressed janitorial whites taking care not to wake the patients. Working the evening shift at Mercy General, Percy was consumed with anxiety as the clock neared eleven. It was almost time to go home. Percy lived in one of the oldest houses in Fremont; just a few bus transfers away. Percy lived alone with his mother.

After stopping at the pharmacy for a few of mother’s many prescriptions, Percy arrived home and entered through the kitchen, being as quiet as possible. Mother’s apnea was music to Percy’s ears. Percy left the paper bag of prescriptions near the sink and retreated to his bedroom, not making a sound.

Quickly disrobing, Percy headed to his closet and retrieved an old dress. He held it against himself as he advanced towards a full-length antique mirror. In harmony with mother’s toothless snore, Percy’s fingers ran up and down the blue velveteen held tight against his tall naked body. That tingling sensation between his legs was back; this annoyed Percy. As the dress fell to the floor, Percy refused to acknowledge his penis in the reflection. Without a glance, Percy tucked his naughty part between his legs and was again admiring the reflection in the mirror. A long red-haired Leona stared back tenderly swinging her arms, wearing only a sheepish smile. Leona’s smile turned to revulsion as she was interrupted by mother’s nasal assault.

“I tell ya, Percy, you better shut that old goat up before I do. Can we not enjoy the silence?”

Leona was now admiring her skinny backside as she kicked at the old blue dress lying in a pile at her feet.

“Percy, this stingy blue dress again? I want something really lovely to wear! Did you snatch that old corpse’s dangly silver earrings yet? I don’t know why you are so afraid of her. Why won’t she just die already?”

Disregarding Leona’s remarks, Percy grabbed a moth-eaten terry cloth robe hanging near the door and threw it on.

“Jesus, Percy, why do you dress me in such ugly garments? Terry cloth, Percy? Of all things!”

“You must keep it down, Leona.”

He opened the door and stood for a moment…listening. Percy knew his mother had taken two pills by the intensity of her snore. Mother should not be bothering anyone tonight. As Percy made his way across his large bedroom, he was careful not to make a peep. The wood floors were always ready to alert mother, no matter how hard she slept. Slipping into the bathroom, Percy turned on the shower.

As steam surrounded Percy, he used a shiny straight razor to remove any signs of body hair. Percy froze when he heard the wooden floor creak.

“Well, I’ll be damned!” roared Percy’s mother.

“Little Percy Baggett, momma’s little faggot!” Mother chimed as she entered the bathroom with the velveteen dress in hand.

Mother snatched the curtain open, causing Percy additional humiliation. Percy swung at his mother, something he had never done. Mother stood staring at Percy in stunned silence. Percy noticed the razor in his hand dripping with blood. Mother’s white flannel gown, taking on multiple shades of red as the slice across her neck became apparent. Mother fell to the floor with a wet thud.

“Mother?” questioned Percy as if expecting a response.

Through the reflection in the bathroom mirror Leona laughed, then Percy let out a nervous giggle.

“You did it, Percy! Get that heifer in the tub before she makes a bigger mess.”

Percy did as Leona instructed.

Moments later, Percy was sitting in front of his pride and joy, an old Edwardian vanity table. The carved pilasters and decorative top were massive. The slide curtain, designed in damask and untouched by time, concealed a mirror. As Percy slid open the curtain, two small oval lights were activated enhancing his reflection. Leona stared back and smiled.

“Now, was that so hard?”

Percy, carefully clipped a dangly silver earring to each ear.

“Don’t momma’s earrings look pretty?”

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