Nativity
Kevin Maloney


In 1995 I lost my virginity to a Filipino girl named Amy. We were sitting on her bed, studying for our Honor’s World History exam when it occurred to me—“Hey, Amy. Where are you parents?”

“Manila,” she said.

“Where’s that?” I asked.

“The Philippines.”

My understanding of Southeast Asian geography was murky at best, but I figured we were safe for at least a few hours. So we kissed and tried not to seem nervous pushing our fingers under elastic to explore the damp spaces between each other’s skin and underwear.

At some point, I suggested that she might be more comfortable if she took off her shirt, and in one of the great mysteries of my life, she responded by stripping down to her birthday suit and challenging me to a game of Truth or Dare.

Usually I thought of myself as a philosopher, but at that moment the Truth struck me as impossibly dull.

I chose Dare.

She thought for a minute, then dared me to do something so naughty that if her dad ever found out, the Y-shaped vein on his forehead would explode.

I had just the thing.

But when my belt buckle hit the floor, she said, “Wait, not that.”

“He’d be extremely pissed,” I said.

“Okay,” she said. “But just for a second.”

A second was more than enough.

For the next two weeks Amy refused to talk to me. I handed her notes in Honor’s World History that said, “Are we having a baby? Yes __ No __ Maybe __?”

I got back 13 maybes, then a no, and then she started having sex with my best friend Ken, who also had to observe the one-second rule, only with an amendment requiring extra-strength Trojans and a frothy application of spermicidal foam.

I heard this from Gwynn, Amy’s best friend. She was chunkier than Amy and somewhat cross-eyed, but every day after school we went for a drive and talked about Amy. I told her how depressed I was, and she said she was sorry and got me stoned and gave me handjobs while Pearl Jam’s Ten played on my car stereo on infinite repeat.

One day Gwynn said that her parents were in South America on an ayahuasca retreat, so we drank her dad’s India Pale Ale and had unprotected sex on her couch and put our pants back on and went for a walk around her neighborhood.

Fat bluebirds shot back and forth between the fir trees as we held hands and talked about our childhoods. Gwynn confessed that she’d had a crush on me ever since we sat next to each other in Mrs. Hocking’s class in the 2nd grade and she got head lice and I didn’t make fun of her or ask to move to a different desk.

Then she asked me who was better in bed, her or Amy.

“You,” I said.

“Are you just saying that?” she asked.

“I don’t think so.”

Gwynn’s neighborhood looked exactly like my neighborhood even though they were separated by five miles and eleven Taco Bells. Every house had a minivan parked out front and a basketball hoop and a flag advertising loyalty to the Oregon Ducks or the Oregon State Beavers.

Gwynn said she’d lived in her house for sixteen years. She said that every day after school she got high and walked around this neighborhood, tripping out on houses she’d been staring at since she was four years old, riding around on her Wonder Woman tricycle.

She pointed at one house and said the lady that lived there got lost on Mt. Hood two years ago and got frostbite and didn’t have feet anymore.

She pointed at another house and said the guy that lived there was a registered sex offender and babysat her once, but the only weird thing he did was sit in the backyard chain-smoking while she jumped on a trampoline for three hours.

Then she asked what we should do if she was pregnant.

“Have a baby,” I said.

“What should we name it?” she asked.

“Anthony Kiedis,” I said.

We came to a park and sat on a merry-go-round and shared a hand-rolled cigarette with a pinch of pot twisted into the tobacco. Gwynn told me that it was kind of cool having hippies for parents because they kept her supplied with hydroponic weed and encouraged her to do LSD and mushrooms to try to get to know her spirit animal, but that her whole life she’d secretly wanted to be Mormon like Hannah Cole’s family.

I nodded like I was following what she was saying, but the pot made my blood thick and I thought I saw a cop car and then I looked at Gwynn’s face and noticed that the left side was sort of slanted downward and that she had tiny yellow hairs growing out of her chin. She leaned in to kiss me and I didn’t know what to do, so I opened my mouth and fell on my back, and then Gywnn was on top of me and we were making love in broad daylight on a merry-go-round that she’d been spinning in circles on since she was still in diapers.

I thought about all the slant-faced, yellow-bearded babies we were going to have if we kept this up and became extremely depressed and wished I’d inseminated Amy and made cherubic half-Irish, half-Filipino babies instead.

When we were done, Gwynn asked if I wanted to see it.

I thought I’d already seen everything there was to see of this girl who was probably my girlfriend, so I said yes and five minutes later we were standing in front of the Mormon church.

“Isn’t it beautiful?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” I said.

It was a one-story concrete building with a lot of wheelchair ramps and a sign announcing: GOD IS KNOCKING. LET HIM IN.

“They wear magic underwear,” said Gwynn.

“Okay,” I said.

“When you die you get your own planet.”

From an informal survey of the three Mormon families I knew, it seemed that every couple in this church was required to have between six and eleven children. I tried to figure out how I would ever support such a voluminous brood as Gwynn contemplated the astronomical implications of abandoning the Tao Te Ching for a caffeine-free cult.

Maybe it was the drugs, but suddenly a door opened and a beam of light shot out and a manger appeared that grew, moving closer to us, gliding as if on wheels.

It was on wheels. Four teenage Mormon boys were pushing a life-sized Nativity scene into the grassy field adjacent to the highway.

They set it in front of a spotlight and somebody flipped a switch and then Mary was holding the baby Jesus in a yellow corona and three cane-bearing wise men and two wooly sheep looked on, and the Holy Ghost, emblazoned in gold, flung its fiery body heavenward from the gable of the mossy roof.

It was the most incredible thing I’d ever seen, rendered all the more mysterious when the boys disappeared, since not one of them had acknowledged us even though they’d just plopped this unfathomable Mystery directly in front of our eyes.

Gwynn got down on her knees and prayed.

I made a decision—if push came to shove, I could work for my Dad’s electrical contracting company, delivering coils of wire to construction sites throughout the Willamette Valley. I’d take night classes and learn electrical engineering and become a draftsman and maybe one day I’d buy the company from him and be the president and sign million dollar contracts and watch buildings grow in Hillsboro and Gresham and Tigard, illuminated by the power of my own mind.
We were going to make it through this life via industriousness and miracles.

“Bleeeeeeeeghch,” said Gwynn.

“What’s that, love?” I asked.

She hadn’t said anything. What I thought was a moment of religious humility was actually the intoxicated posture of an 18-year-old whose brain had been stoked by too much weed and alcohol. She was dizzy and vomiting up what appeared to be a half-digested Hot Pocket.
I held her hair until she was done, and then she asked if we could go home.

We passed the merry-go-round and the pedophile’s house and the footless woman’s split level and I tucked Gwynn into her Little Mermaid bed and she fell asleep and I got into my Pontiac and drove to Ken’s house.

He was sitting on the back deck, smoking a cigarette.

“Hey man,” I said.

“What’s up?” he said.

He knocked a Camel out of his pack and handed it to me and lit it and we both smoked, watching the fir trees undulate in a gentle wind.

“How’s Amy?” I asked.

“Fucking women, man,” he said.

I nodded.

In the third grade Ken came over to my house and ate all my gummy bears and played Punch Out!!! and knocked out Super Macho Man and Mike Tyson before I’d even knocked out Piston Honda, so I sat on his head and punched his kidneys until his mom had to come over and pick him up because he peed a little bit of blood, but two days later we were in his parent’s bedroom and he showed me his mom’s vibrator and turned it on and waved it around like a light saber and I wondered if it was possible that there were people in this world cooler than we were.

We nosed our cigarettes in a potted plant and went inside. Ken handed me a can of Budweiser. We watched a porno movie about a 34-year-old brunette with gigantic tits in a schoolgirl outfit who couldn’t figure out how to solve a math problem, so her body builder teacher pulled down her miniskirt and ejaculated inside of her shaved vagina.

Ken said he had to go to the bathroom and came back blushing and said he was bored of the porno, so we got high and Ken bashed his drums and I played his Fender Stratocaster, and for about a minute we sounded exactly like the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

“Can you believe how good we are?” asked Ken.

“You sound exactly like Chad Smith,” I said.

“You sound exactly like John Frusciante,” he said.

Ken kicked the pedal of his bass drum, sending a rush of air into my solar plexus at the precise moment I played a power chord, and I forgot all about Gwynn and the roulette wheel spinning inside her uterus that would determine the gender and/or existence of our unborn child. We were in the presence of something bigger than love—a forgiveness so profound it didn’t matter who made who piss blood.

Just then Ken’s phone rang and inexplicably he stopped playing the drums and answered it.

“Uh huh,” he said. “Okay. Shit. Okay. Shit. I love you. Bye.”

He hung up the phone and walked out to the back patio and lit another cigarette.

I followed him.

His hands were shaking and he couldn’t stop kicking the wooden post that held up the railing surrounding the porch.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“Amy’s pregnant,” he said.

This didn’t seem like the right time to tell him that I’d been sleeping with Gwynn and knew the minutest details about his birth control technique, which compared to my here-goes-nothing approach seemed ironclad as fuck.

“What are you going to do?” I asked.

He shrugged.

“We sounded so good,” he said. “Like a real band.”

I nodded.

“It never even occurred to me until this moment that I might not be famous one day.”

The moment he said it I realized that I’d had the same revelation about an hour ago, only in my case Jesus was glowing like a roman candle and there was still a chance that Gwynn was going to have her period.

Ken stopped kicking the wooden post and sat down on a piece of lawn furniture and made a sound that until this moment I’d only heard our fathers make.

We were eighteen years old and the world was already so incredibly fucked up.

Ken finished his cigarette and went inside and loaded his glass bong and took a gigantic rip.

He handed it to me and I took a gigantic rip.

He turned on the TV and we drank beer and after a while the phone rang.

It was Gwynn. She said she was feeling better. She asked if I wanted to go see a movie.

Ken didn’t notice or care that a girl had called me at his house asking me to hang out and that I’d said yes and that I was leaving him.

He was clutching his skull, staring at a Seinfeld rerun like it was about to reveal the secret of the universe.

Kramer flopped around the screen in a leisure suit and Jerry stood there with his hands in his pockets and his mouth open, his teeth like some precious stone that would still be around when all the mammals died and cockroaches ran the world.

The show went to a commercial.

“It’s going to be okay,” I said.

“No it’s not,” he said.

“It will,” I said.

“Sure,” he said.

Of course he didn’t believe me. I had no idea what I was talking about. I said goodbye and drove to Gwynn’s, and instead of going to a movie we got stoned and had sex on her parents’ waterbed, and the Holy Ghost burned like a blue fireball that we could see with our eyes closed until the pot wore off and we were lost.



Kevin Maloney is the author of Cult of Loretta (Lazy Fascist Press, 2015). His stories have appeared in Hobart, Barrelhouse, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, and a number of other journals and anthologies. He lives in Portland, Oregon with his girlfriend and daughter.