Lou ann hadnt yet broken the news that when the baby

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Lou Ann hadn’t yet broken the news that, when the baby was born, the plan was to give it a Catholic baptism. This would be New Year’s Pig 29
for the sake of Angel’s mother, who frequently claimed to be dying from any one of various causes. The only English words she knew were the names of diseases. Lou Ann made the baptism decision purely for practical reasons: if one of the grandmothers was going to have a conniption, it might as well be the one who was eighteen hundred miles away rather than the one who lived right across town. Lou Ann looked over the pamphlet while she waited for the bus. Like most of the other literature she had received, it had a pic- ture on the front of a mother holding a baby. Sometimes the women in the pictures were white, sometimes Mexican, and some- times black. They were shown holding their babies in various posi- tions, but they were never shown as pregnant. Lou Ann wondered about this, since all the pamphlets were about prenatal care. On the bus she decided it must have to do with the fact that the pamphlets were put together by men, who in her opinion liked the looks of a mother and baby better than a pregnant woman. She was fairly sure about this. On the bus, for instance, several men would stand up to offer her a seat, but they wouldn’t quite look at her. The high school boys didn’t make remarks under their breath or try to rub up against her when the bus made sudden stops and turns. To be able to relax this way on a crowded bus was a new experience for Lou Ann, and she thought that in some ways it would not be so bad to go through your life as a pregnant lady. She watched the houses and telephone poles go sailing by. Some of the telephone poles had advertisements for Tania Maria, a woman leaning forward in a loose sweater and spike heels. She was a singer, and had enough hair for at least two people. Other telephone poles had black posters with letters that appeared to be cut out of a newspaper, like the ransom notes in mystery novels, but they were ads for bands with names like Audio Confusion and Useless Turmoil and the Meat Puppets. She thought of nam- ing her baby Tania Maria. Angel would suggest naming it some- thing like Meat Puppet. That would be his idea of a joke. 30 T H E B E A N T R E E S
It was pure pleasure not to have men pushing into her and touching her on the bus. It allowed her mind to drift far away from her strange, enormous body. When she was nine her Grandfather Ormsby had given her a jackknife, and had told her that for safety’s sake she should always keep a magic circle around her when she used it. She would sit in the backyard and draw a circle in the dirt that no one could come into while she whittled for hours and hours on thick brown bars of soap. The jackknife was long gone now, but once again there was something like a magic circle around her.

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