“THE PARENTAL HELLISH TATTOO OF INFECTION” by Josh Mitchell The x-rays sealed my fate as a decrepit doctor at Children’s Hospital

in Boston clipped them to the light box. In the first image, a whitish cloud appeared at the base of my rib cage. The second image was even more revealing – the bulk of my vital organs were black as coal – stricken with secondary bacterial pneumonia. At my autopsy, the pathologist opened my chest and, my lungs, normally light and elastic, were as heavy as water-logged sponges, clogged with a clumpy, bloody fluid. He removed secretions from my windpipe, fingernail-size scraps of purplish tissue, and found that I was extremely dehydrated with severe electrolyte imbalances. I died a painful death from an unprecedented flu, ghastly swollen and hemorrhaging, and the atrocity of it all is that my parents infected me on purpose.

At my funeral, my grave, a bulky concrete tomb like others dotting the cemetery, rested on a high ground between two angel sculptures. At one end my parents laid out my cherished possessions: a Red Sox hat, a collection of strangely-shaped rocks, plastic sandals. Fake tears ran rampant and I swear I think my mother smiled as she walked back to get into the car. It is impossible to know how the idea entered my parents’ brain – but once conceived, it haunted me day and night – even in death. What did I do to warrant such a malicious demise? Was it one incident or were they just fed up with my behavior over the years? I loved my parents and I thought they loved me. They had never wronged me. They had catered to my every small need. To think that there I was, eating cupcakes, little by little, and my parents were off drinking wine in a fancy Italian restaurant as an

infectious disease teased out the entire genetic sequence of my youthful vitality. I am still dumbfounded at the scheme. Whispers of swine flu parties had emerged on the Internet. The idea is that exposing a child to the H1N1 virus while it remains relatively mild will give the child immunity if the virus returns in a more virulent form later on. The thought is an extension of chicken pox and measles parties that were once a popular way of exposing children to those diseases so that they might acquire resistance to subsequent infections. However, in my case, my parents were not looking to build my immune system: they were looking to eradicate it and kill me. And, the tragic part is, it worked. Before you can believe and come to grips with my bold and vicious statement, you first need to learn about David and Ginny Hogarty, my parents. Prior to my unexpected arrival, the couple’s taste for the high life went beyond luxurious Caribbean vacations, expensive golf course memberships, and Rolex watches. They were social butterflies and their time was their most coveted and prized possession. All of it went out the window when I was born. At first they dug the novelty of me. My mother showed me off to her uppity friends like I was a new diamond from De Beers. My father bragged to his office buddies about my fresh baby smell and ga-ga-goo-goo noises. It all faded fast though – like a chalk tattoo in a torrential downpour. I cried a lot. Diapers were expensive. There were no babysitters in my neighborhood. As I got a bit older, there was pre-school. Who was going to drive me? Pick me up? My parents began to fight. Only about me. I was keeping them up late because I thought I saw Darth Vader in my window. I peed my bed

twice a week. Soccer practice. School lunches. I was a major nuisance and time drainer. The marriage was crumbling and there was one obvious choice: I had to go. So when my parents read about a “Vigilante Vaccination Birthday Party” on Craigslist – an arcane gathering of ill-behaved children in hopes of them contracting a potentially fatal disease – my days were numbered. It was sort of a revolutionary idea. Sick but inventive.

When I walked into the house, I was handed a brown lunch bag which I could then decorate with crayons and stickers and use during the party as my goody bag. I guess by having something for us to do right away, there was less running around until everyone had arrived and the contamination could really begin. The festivities kicked off with the birthday child opening his presents. I wish I could claim I put a lot of thought into choosing the right gift but, let’s be honest, my mother picked it up for me at Wal-Mart. A Harry Potter board game. How cool. The scavenger hunt was next. We were on the prowl for hidden stickers, pennies, gumballs, plastic figures of Disney characters, and stuffed animals. If we found two of the same things we were encouraged to “share” with each other. There were an array of predictable games played – Pin The Tail On The Donkey, Simons Says, Red Light, Green Light – but I think it was the blowing Ping-Pong balls across the floor game that did me in. I know which kid it was now too – Joey Reardon with the constant snot drip and excessive wheezing. He was the mole, the one they planted to contaminate us all. Of course he sat right next to me for lunch. The food was simple and we all cramped together at the kitchen table. Hot dogs, pizza, and chips were popular – I went for the chicken tenders and I double-dipped them

in the mound of ketchup like it was my J-O-B. Had I known this was to be my last meal I wouldn’t have inhaled it so quickly. Cake and ice cream followed, of course. An hour and a half is long enough for a kid’s birthday party. We were now well past the two hour mark. I guess the evil and unloving parents wanted to maximize our chances of infection and not take any chances. That’s OK. Have you seen the new indie horror film “Paranormal Activity”? I am going to haunt these poor souls until one of them grabs the Big Bertha in the garage and smashes a Ryan Howard-like homerun off one of their skulls. http://www.wickidpissapublicity.com http://www.youtube.com/wickidpissafilms