Flavius Octavius Bradley came into the world ten months ago, the son of an unwed high school Latin and biology teacher, L. Bradley. F.O.B. is not who I am writing about. After all, he is just a rug rat who has made no mark on the world except in his soiled diapers. No, this is mostly about his mother, L.
There used to be a lot of speculation as to what the L. stood for, because L. was not from West Lumbago. Some guessed Leslie, some guessed Lois, a few guessed Leeanne. Once L. became the center of town gossip, due to the pregnancy, my Aunt Martha, from whom all badmouthing flows, took it upon herself to grill the school secretary for L.’s first name. Her name is Laura. But she likes to be called L.
L. is a private person, and that drives Aunt Martha bonkers. She found herself lacking in information about the baby, specifically his father. So, she decided to float various ideas to see which seemed most reasonable and most likely to be repeated. What good is a vicious guess if you can’t share it?
First, she counted backwards on her fingers nine months from the F.O.B.’s date of birth and thought that maybe L. had taken a cruise to the Bahamas and had indulged in a shipboard fling. L. had returned to town from vacation wearing a great tan and many smiles. But she was silent about her trip.
While the cruise story was spicy, it wasn’t sordid enough for Aunt Martha. She gave it more thought and decided to spread the rumor that every second or third weekend L. would drive to Lincoln where she would pick up men in bars and treat them to her treats. From one of these trips, according to Aunt Martha, “The little bastard was planted.” Aunt Martha was sure that L. did not have a clue who the father was.
Despite the rumors being spread around town, the school board did not fire L. Teachers of dead languages are not easy to find in rural Nebraska. L.’s reaction to the rumors was to let it be known that if she was told the name of anyone spreading the rumor, she had plenty of dirty diapers to wipe on the faces of the rumor monger(s).