INGRATITUDE • by Pavelle Wesser

The board members cowered in their oxblood leather chairs as the baby toddled toward them in a diaper, raising his pudgy arms.

“Welcome, I am Damien — new chairman of the board.”

Damien’s eyes glittered as he took a seat, sucking on his baby bottle.

“May I ask how old you are?” a woman ventured timidly.

“No.” He spat formula across the polished surface of the conference table before retrieving a cigar from his diaper. “Anyone want one? They’re Cuban.”

Heads shook in unison. “How did he get to be boss?” a man objected.

Damien banged his bottle on the table. “Questioning me will result in adverse consequences.”

“Yes, sir,” murmured the man.


That night, Damien’s mother hugged herself in his drafty room. She wanted to pull his blanket over him but was afraid to touch him. Instead, she reached into his crib and removed his baby bottle.

“Drinking this at night will rot your teeth,” she said aloud.

Damien’s eyes snapped open. “I don’t have teeth, you idiot, I’m a baby.”

“Where have you been all day without my permission?” she snapped.

“At work; I’m the chairman of the board.”

“How is that possible when you’re too young for even preschool?”

“Please don’t reference my age.” Damien pulled a Cuban cigar from his diaper. “Got a light?”

“You’re disrespectful, Damien; need I remind you that I’m your mother?!”

“Like I’m supposed to care?”

“Because of your attitude, I demand you sign over your company stock to me. I have to start saving for college, and…”

“Get — out — of my nursery!” he snorted.

His mother left, trembling in silent rage.


Damien rubbed out his cigar on the mahogany surface of his desk and let go in his diaper. Cursing babyhood, he sucked hard on his bottle’s nipple. His short life lacked purpose. To that end, he would establish a foundation for wayward youths in the throes of directionless lives. Damien tottered on plump legs into the wood-paneled conference room, rummaging in his diaper for a cigar.

“Anyone got a light?”

Blank stares greeted him before the board members wrinkled their noses at the faint whiff of shit.

“Hey, Jerkoffs, I asked a question.”

Someone rushed forward to light his cigar.

“I’m proud to announce that I’ll be founding an institute for hopeless youths.”

The board members clapped lightly while exchanging worried glances. As Damien stood at the head of the conference table clothed in his signature diaper, a woman crept up from behind. The board members weighed their loyalty against their resentment for this tyrannical baby.

“Hey,” Damien barked, “put some life into your applause. I made you rich, yet now you poo-poo my endeavors?”

“Pun intended?” a woman tittered.

“Uh, sir…” A man raised a tentative hand.

“Uh, no, I’m not interested,” snapped Damien.

“But there’s…” He pointed behind Damien.

“When I say I’m not interested, it means I’m not fucking interested. Am I practicing an exercise in redundancy here?!”

The woman lunged at Damien, knocking him to the floor. The cigar flew from his mouth and singed the carpet. As the overhead lights flickered and died, the board members waited with bated breath until they blinked back on, then sighed in relief. Damien was gone.

“Down With The Despot!” they cheered, high-fiving each other.


She trudged down the street in her threadbare coat, pushing a baby carriage in which Damien sat, wrapped in duct tape.

“Now you will learn that Mommy is boss.” Her teeth chattered as she braced herself against the icy wind.

A woman passing by smiled. “What a cute baby, and what an original outfit! Did you make it yourself?”

“It’s enough that I made the baby,” snarled his mother, as the woman recoiled. “In return for everything I’ve given him, all he has ever shown me is ingratitude.”

Pavelle Wesser has published short stories in webzines and anthologies. Formerly a New Yorker, she currently resides in New England with her family and several dogs.

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