Page 61 - Vol. VII #8
P. 61

had helped with the delivery, swore that the newborn was bigger than her six month old Obadiah; she also swore that it took two midwives, her and Betsy Mo- ses’ daughter Julia, to physically pull the child from the womb: Miss Caroline supporting the head and Julia cradling its ankles with those gigantic feet flop- ping around like flippers on an giant codfish.
bing into the nape of Halsey Hulburt’s neck and Halsey Hulburt gently stroking and patting a small patch of sorrow between the heroic expanse of his shoulder blades. Carl Jr., being a remarkably percep- tive and sensitive creature, nestles his head and neck around Martin Van Buren Bates’ body and there they all stand: horse, comforter, and comforted.
 When news reached the Hulburt homestead, Flora Mae just nodded. Ain’t it something. The biggest baby ever born on the planet earth right here in Seville! Flora Mae just nodded. Twenty-three pounds! That’s bigger than
– He was so perfect, Martin Van Buren Bates sobs. So beautiful. I held him in my hands...
a baby calf! Flora Mae silently closed her eyes and pressed both of her hands together over her heart.
Halsey just listens, allowing the giant’s speech to ab- breviate as necessitated by sorrow.
– Martin, Halsey Hulburt says softly as Carl Jr. nuzzles up next to the crying giant. The child... I’m so sorry.
– He was a diamond. I held him in my hands.... And now he’s gone. What am I going to do?
“Two normal people can have an anomaly, but
two anomalies can’t have a normal person.”
– You build him a house, a house in here, Halsey says tapping the giant’s chest tenderly. You remember
when that Moorehead fella built your house, right?
You remember how he made the ceilings twelve-feet tall and the doorframes eight-and-a-half-feet tall with the doorknobs over the heads of most people in town? Well, you gotta build your house just like that; it’s gotta be just as strong only smaller. And you remember how all your furniture had to be custom built out of walnut and the mirror on Anna’s dressingtable the size of barn door and those rocking chairs that were so big that most men couldn’t even touch the top of them? Well, you gotta build all the furniture just like that: make it comfortable, so you can live there. Plant a garden in the back and surround it with a wall, a small wall, because that’s what you gotta do, you gotta wall off the past, but with a small enough wall that you can climb over it whenever you want to, whenever you need to. And you keep his memory there. That’s where he’s gonna live, inside. Think you can do that?
– Now, you have to hold that diamond in your mind, Halsey says softly.
– But how?
 Martin Van Buren Bates doesn’t lift his sobbing head from out of his hands; he just nods slightly and keeps crying.
In his mind, Halsey suddenly hears his wife’s voice chastising him: The devil’s doorstop, Halsey Hulburt! That’s all the better you can do? This poor man is hur- tin’ and you ain’t giving him any comfort.
Knowing what he has to do, Halsey reaches down and gently rubs Carl Jr.’s neck. Now you stay still, boy, he says as he rises from his saddle and, using Bates’ body as support, straightens himself until he’s stand- ing atop Carl Jr., who tiptoes forward and backwards slightly in confusion. Whoa, boy. Stay still.
– Yes, Martin Van Buren Bates says shaking his head, a movement that sends a tremor of instability throughout the shaky structural arrangement.
When the movement stops, Halsey stretches up on his tippytoes and wraps his arms around Martin Van Buren Bates’ neck. Much to his surprise, the giant twists his body towards him and engulfs his upper body with his gigantic arms.
– Good. And if you’re willing to do that for me, are you willing to do something else?
And there they stand. The largest man on earth sob-
house and comfort Anna because she’s gonna need every inch of comfort that you can provide. Women
Martin Van Buren Bates nods in silence.
– Good. You gotta dry up and march right back into that
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