When he got home Johnny found his mother in the kitchen. “What you bakin’ Mom?”
“Your favorite, cinnamon rolls with that special vanilla frosting.” Johnny wolfed down a square and licked his fingers. As he reached for another one his mother slapped his hand. “Now don’t you get so greedy, save your appetite for dinner, I didn’t make these just for you, I’m hosting a tea tomorrow with the Church ladies.” Johnny wondered about the limits of Mary Whitfield’s assurance of confidentiality but figured it was not a subject that could be discussed in a social setting. “By the way, you got a call from the hardware store. I took a message.”
“It’s about a project for Econ,” Johnny headed upstairs to his bedroom. “I’ll take care of it in the morning.” Johnny hid the box of prophylactics behind a loose board in his closet. Then he spread the pamphlets from the clinic over his bed and tried to pick phrases and ideas out of each one that he could use: Family planning is a decision for you and your partner to make together; Deciding about birth control is a personal choice; Make love, not babies; Every child a wanted child. As he composed an outline his mother called from the stairway.
“Oh Johnny. Dinner’s ready. Come and get it.”
He put the literature back in the folder and tried to think of an excuse that would satisfy both Mr. Bolema and Econ Don. Before joining his parents at the dinner table he rummaged through his sock drawer and picked out an old pair. Then he went to the medicine cabinet and found the Vaseline. “Johnboy, your dinner’s getting cold.”
“Be right there Mom.” Johnny tried to visualize his dream from the previous night but with a distinct improvement. He walked along the same path that led to the pond with a naked woman in a waterfall but this time there was a set of pompoms on the beach next to Taryn’s cheerleader outfit. Johnny slipped the socks and Vaseline under his mattress and headed downstairs. He smacked his lips in anticipation of dessert.
Casey Bush is a long time Portland poet whose collection, Student of the Hippocampus, was published by Last Word Press in 2017. Casey is known to hunt mushrooms, throw the yo-yo, and push pawns. For many years he was a senior editor of The Bear Deluxe Magazine, exploring environmental issues through the graphic and literary arts. He currently writes reviews of avant-garde jazz for Audiophile Auditions. His poetry has most recently been featured in Oddball and Mad Swirl. His essay “Marcel Duchamp Gets Mugged by a Street Hustler” appeared in The Decadent Review (March 2021) and was translated into several languages. Casey recommends Chess for Success and SMART Reading.