Ladies and Gentlemen, My Face Is Melting.

by Serge Bielanko

On Monday, around lunchtime, El Diablo backed his black'n'flame three-story dump truck right up to my house, released a lever, and unloaded a good three or four tons of hellfire onto the roof. It came crashing down into the living room where I was standing and landed on Violet, who was in my arms semi-asleep. There I was one second just whiffing her milky burps, my nose to hers, a little lullabye to see her off. And then out of the blue my baby gets dipped in Inferno.

Her eyes bulged and I gently asked her what was up. You burping? She didn't really respond but rather began throttling her stubby arms as if she was trying to take off for a little flight around the room. Then, the dreaded sounds: slow rolling fogs of moan that pile into and on top of one another like a terrible highway scene, until its just a single blood-curdling scream on high.

Oh my.

I panicked, I guess. I tried the binky but but no dice. We whirled around the room singing fucking Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer again ; these days in times of despair it is my go-to tune even though I don't want it to be; it just is. Purple baby face. Tears. Crying so hard you can see the dogs look up at you with eyes begging for me to shower mercy upon them, to spare us all this harsh midday torture session. But it was useless. Everything was useless.

Six hours later it was still pretty much going on. I'd put her down for a sec in her swing, the fires would burn hotter. I'd pick her up, move toward...I dunno...the yard?...and she'd squeal the squeal of an unsettled soul. I fed. I diaper changed. I stood by the shower, hoping the tranquility of running water might enchant her. Nada. Twice giant poos offered the possible promise of relief...but no. Finally, I felt the Devil's fingers grappling in my torched hair.He was flirting with me and it was fucking working. Seduced by evil: I looked down at my daughter and screamed out 'NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!'

I set poor bawling Violet down in her crib and walked into the bathroom and slapped myself in the face. Except what was supposed to be a slap became a fist punch in the spirit of the moment, and so I actually punched myself on the high cheek. Pain shot through my adrenaline and tickled a nerve. But I liked it, needed it. Iate the pain like a hot wing. It was delicious, spicy. And no, I hadn't been close to belting Violet right then either. It was more that I needed to chill myself out by setting the babe down for a moment and bashing myself in the noodle. So, I stood there looking in the mirror at my mug. Maybe I took a couple deep breaths,I don't know. There was still big crying in the other room, but it had faded to background music.

An hour later, around 8, she finally passed out. I stared at her exquisite smallness as she breathed out and in over and over in my arms. We were both exhausted, our spirits water-logged. How could such a tender innocent three-month old ever pull off such an unholy display of terror? And oh the commitment. The hours of dedicated discomfort. Never giving in. Rarely giving up. What had it been, I wondered. Was it gas? An early tooth beginning to poke out? A full moon?

No.No. And no. It was: the devil, plain and simple. And we beat him at his own game, Violet. All that legendary badness and you and me, we licked him. And we'll do it again when we need to, huh? Just give Daddy a couple of days, sweetheart. Please.