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I was just going thru the Picassa album and came across a picture of Mu, Sherry’s pit-bull that was a rescue from a street gang. She was a real sweetie among people, but a terror to other dogs. When Sherry came to live with us, it became apparent that I was going to steal her dog.
Mu fell in love with me at the first meeting, and felt that she had to defend me from all other canines, which caused a lot of uncomfortable moments in the house. I could not go anywhere without Mu. The women lost the prized center seat position, and my girl Mu would sit proudly beside me as I made my rounds.
She also was a fireplace dog, and her joy at the prospect of a fire was a real pain in the butt when I was building the fire. She was the only dog I knew that “snorkeled” when she was happy, and the only dog I had that seemed to smile.
I had a daybed that was right by my studio chair, and in the mornings and evenings when I was at the desktop she would lay by my side in happy bliss while I pounded out writing exercises in a vain attempt to master the art of writing.
But one night, four years after she came into my life, she was more clingy than usual. Sometimes things would disturb her, like a new heard in the pasture next door, or a skunk in the neighborhood, so clinginess was not unusual. But this night was different. When I went to bed, she came in and lay by my hand. I knew something was wrong, and I decided to take her into the vet that next morning.
But that morning, I found her by my studio chair, drawing in her last breaths. I think she waited for me before giving up that last breath. There was no time to get her to the vet, and we sat with her until the last death rattle.
Sherry sat down later to write of it, and realized that every story she had of her involved me. I had indeed stolen her dog.
And I sure miss her today as I stumbled on this picture of her has she helped me with my morning exercises a long time ago in a faraway place …
Wednesday come hot and humid, and I have frittered most of my day away on the PC and listening to talk-radio. I am now following four friends as they wend their way through cancer treatments. I sure don’t like that much, but that is the way it is.
They go up one day, and I rejoice.
They go down one day, and I am distressed that I am so powerless to aid them.
They fret, and I give them empty platitudes and hugs.
Puny humans we be. We are born, we live, we die, and Thanatos silently watches our every step while Chronos measures it. All our railings, all our cursings, all of our “positive thoughts” mock our feeble arrogance.
I remember reading once; It is good to rejoice in your youth, but remember to spend time in the house of the dead as well.
Took a quiz today that predicted that I will live another 15 years. Mmm. OK … what do I do with the five years I am too feeble to wipe my butt. I dread the thought that some minimum wage under schooled nursing assistant will clean me and wash me, and wheel me out into the sunshine while I wait to die.
So anyway … I look at the yard. It needs work, and I will probably get out and put my hand to some of it, but that little voice inside asks; Why?
I am getting weary of weeping liberals whining about the five-year-old killing his sister with an unsecured and loaded rifle. Yeah, it’s tragic that the sister will not live out her days, and the boy will grow up with that on his conscious.
But hardly a peep is said about the mother who let her five-year-old have an unsecured and loaded rifle in the first place.
Perhaps we should have background checks for mothers, to make sure they don’t have any moronic tendencies.
If it saves just one child ….
A tragedy that in our family was six year old girl who was killed by a rock carelessly flung from a slingshot. She would have been an aunt of mine. The family never discussed who the rock slinger was, but it most likely was my dad or one of his brothers. It was a tragedy of huge proportions, and the grief was left where it belonged.
There sure were no public outrages of public slingshots. Extreme? No. I don’t think so.
Wednesday. Wodens Day. יום
Talk radio drones in the background, the cassock air filter hisses by my chair, as I take refuge from the pollen assault. The day is bright and sunny, but will grow gloomy later today as the rain clouds roll in.
It is a pensive day. I ended up yesterday debating with a Blogster® friend on some Conservative issues. Actually, the blog itself was mostly on election strategy, which is another hot-button issue with me. I really don’t enjoy the debate anymore, though. I think the factions have already drawn up the battle lines and cannot debate the issue any longer. Debate has deteriorated to one liners and accusations of personal attacks while delivering said same.
Each time, I swear that is my last political conversation with liberals. And though I have gotten better, ever so often I feel the urge to correct what I see as some glaring inconsistencies from the opposition. And just as often, out comes the old saws.
I conclude at the end of these debates that it really doesn’t matter. The left has won, and now we spiral slowly into another failed socialist Utopia where mediocrity reigns and all are reduced to the same level of misery. Except for a few well-placed individuals and some glitterati, of course.
Well … welcome to it … when this rooster comes home to roost, I will be eating Pablum and wearing nappies in some forgotten nursing home horror if I wasn’t fortunate enough to die first. I got mine, but you aren’t going to get yours because I used it up. Nya nya nya!
The coffee cup is empty. *sigh!* …
So, I guess it is time to get out and water some, and maybe clean up the storage area under the carport.
Monday morning dawns 64°, a sunshiny day with high clouds and a suffocating 88% humidity. But we don’t mind the humidity. It helps moderate the heat some. A number of birds are visiting the bird bath this morning. They like the new concrete one better than the plastic one it replaced, though it is the same size. The concrete seems to keep the water fresher than the plastic one did, and for some reason, they also seem more willing to share the rim with other species.
Jenna, our new white something that followed Snooks home one day runs into the room about every ten seconds to let me know that Snookums is taking waaaaay to long to get breakfast out, then dashes madly down the hall to the Master bath to let her know she needs to pick up the pace a little.
Kippur, the budgie, is crawling around his cage, fighting with the various toys and such. He occasionally sides up to me and tries to get me to put some music on. But it is such a gentle hush in the house this morning that I hate to disturb it. Only the whine of a computer fan intrudes into the softness.
Soon the HEPA filters will come on as the timers dictate. Already I can feel the itching in the eyes and the nasal drip building. I have become one of THEM … people with allergies. Each day it is a bout with allergy pills, netti-pots, cassock air filters and frequent trips back indoors for relief.
Still have a turf tire to repair this morning after breakfast. Need to run it into town and get a pro to seat it. Mowing looms large in my week.
But now, for this moment, it is me, you, coffee and the cottony softness of morning in rural Texas.
Well, again this morning, I eat, I get ill for a time afterwards. There is something wrong with the old GI system. Going to try a few more home remedy’s before taking the problem to the cut-it-out or burn-it-out people.I wouldn’t think that waffles would turn on me. It is like an old friend on Sunday mornings.
Sunday is my cooking day. I have a good deal with Snookums. I cook, she cleans. You can’t beat that! She doesn’t mind kitchen work, but she hates meal planning. I hate washing dishes and cleaning up. So she gets a break from meal planning, and I get the ooohs and ahhhs for doing what Snookums does every day with very little credit.
It is the first bright, warm and dry day of spring we have had this year. The trees are all leafed out, the swards are full of wildflowers, and a third single wide trailer house is set on my neighbors three acres out back.
He put the ugliest trailer next to the road for all to see who drive by. Gone are the days when I could walk out on the back deck in my skivvies, coffee cup in hand, and take in the first light of day. Pah! Progress! Who needs it?
Kippur happily burbles in his cage. He has taken to mocking the mocking birds. Sunday, when snookums makes her daylight rounds, she puts his bathtub in the cage, opens the blinds, and the two of them greet the day. He is the only bird I have ever seen that rolls over on his back to bathe.
I still have a tire to fix on the riding mower. I think that will be the first item of the day. I am going to have to get the pros at the tire shop to inflate the tire for the first time, though. I don’t have the tools to expand the tire to get it to seal properly on the rims.
It will be two more weeks ’til my bigger and better lawn tractor arrives, but the yard can’t wait that long.
Not much on the blogs today. WordPress always was quiet on the weekends, Blogger isn’t very social, but I do have a few friends that post there, but the inbox there is pretty bare this morning, and I think this is art-something day on Blogster, so I flip thru and look at the pretty pictures and that is about the end of my morning browsing.
And the day wears on, and the days exigencies nag at me. I’ll never get anything done if I stay on the keyboard all day.
This is a mostly true story, I had to change some of the characters and timelines to protect the identities because most of the people are still living. I posted this on multiply some years back, and post it here as sort of a self-revelatory piece. Abortion is not a comfortable subject, and I am conflicted. This is a painful coming of age story.
The four of us had become inseparable that last lazy summer of school. Little did we suspect that our tiny clique was about to be ripped apart. Danny had told me of his plan to win Patsy over, even though she and Larry were fast and intimate friends. At least what we called intimate back in those halcyon and innocent days. She and Larry got the back seat on trips to the drive-in movies, and we had a pact to not look. Still, the little soft gasps and sighs suggested that more was going on in that back seat than a little kissy face. I don’t think they ever did “it“, however.
We were so awash in the mysterious teen hormones and pheromones, and they overrode all the adult warnings that we were daily bombarded with. We didn’t want to know about the proper time for sex. We didn’t want to know about the sanctity of marriage. We didn’t want to hear about taking cold showers. We wanted to know sex. Desire attacked us at every turn. I could not focus on my studies, and the slightest soft touch in the sea of nubile females at school set off unbelievable fires in me.
One night Danny and I were sitting on the hood of the car in the darkness when Danny offhandedly remarked: “I think that Patsy likes me.”
“Larry and she are pretty tight. They are talking about getting married when school is finished.” I replied.
“I want to do it with her. I think I can.” he said simply.
Patsy lived a block away from me, so she was often at my house. Her father drove a fuel truck, and was away on overnights two or three times a week. He was very strict with her, but her mother saw no problem with her being over at my house, so when her dad was away, she would let her come over after the evening chores were done. When Larry couldn’t make it over, it would be just the two of us out in the driveway. My mother was pretty open to visits from my friends, as long as we were in view. We learned to hide in plain sight.
Patsy was never more than a friend of mine, though I was not unaware of her developing body, and she of mine. So there was quite a bit of bumping, tickling and teasing. And occasionally we “looked” when others weren’t around. But her heart was with Larry. They hit it off from the first day she showed up at school during our freshman year, and they grew very close until their senior year.
I watched over the remaining weeks as Danny began his seduction. It started with him casually dropping by in the evenings, both when Larry was there and when he wasn’t. He never actually spoke against Larry, but started in with innocuous depreciations.
“Larry’s humor is so lame that you have to laugh at it” he would jokingly tell Patsy. And she would agree, and they would tell Larry jokes and howl with laughter at his expense. Larry had no idea that he was being sabotaged. I was a small party to that, and though I didn’t join in that giggling cutting, I didn’t protest either.
I often babysat my siblings while my parents visited their friends in the evening, and on those nights, Danny would casually suggest that we go to the A&W drive-in for fries. Of course I couldn’t go with them, so they went off by themselves. I was usually relieved when they left, anyway. I was vexed by their double dealing.
Danny quickly succeeded in his conquest of Patsy, and of course Larry found out, and the inevitable fist fight ensued. And school started, our tight clique was finished, Danny was off on a new conquest, Patsy stopped coming by in the evenings, and Larry and I just didn’t seem to connect anymore. There was so much to do that year with play practice, games and dances anyway, and I never tried to reestablish that friendship.
So it was quite a surprise when one bitter December evening when Patsy showed up at my door. Of course I let her in and we sat at the kitchen table, not far from the ever present mother’s eye in the living room. We shared the last can of Coke. We talked of small things, but I knew there was something on her mind. The old banter wasn’t there, and there was a submissiveness that I had never noticed before. She didn’t look me much in the eye as I talked with her, and I knew she wasn’t engaged in the conversation. But she didn’t want to leave either, so I was a little baffled by her null responses. But at the witching hour for teens came, nine o’clock on a school night, she went home. She seemed so tiny as she walked down the steps and on to the snowy street. I felt that I had let her down in some sort of way, but I couldn’t figure out a way to just ask her what was troubling her.
I didn’t see her at school the next day, and I thought of calling her house to see if she was ok. But in that era, that would have been a little too personal. Don’t ask me what code of conduct that was. It was just the way it was. Boys did not casually call girls. But I couldn’t get her visit out of my mind.
Later on that evening I saw her walking down the alley toward the house, and went out in the chill air to meet her. We sat side by side on the garbage cans and once again talked small talk. Family was OK. Brother was a jerk. School was OK. I was shivering by the time mom called me back in the house, and she walked back to her home.
And again that next day she wasn’t at school, and I couldn’t get her out of my mind. I felt like she was clinging to me for some reason, and again I had let her down. I decided that I was going to have to get to the bottom of this, and after school I stopped by her house. Patsy’s mother, Mrs. O’Connell greeted me at the door before I even knocked, and ushered me in, telling me that Patsy was out on the back porch. They had a glass enclosed but unheated back porch that was still comfortable on sunny days, and Patsy was sitting at the table.
I sat down across from her, still in my coat and said: “I didn’t see you in school today.”
“I am going to quit school.” She said, dully
“Quit! You only have four months left until you graduate!”
“Patsy, what is going on with you?” I suddenly blurted.
Patsy opened her mouth to say something, but she was interrupted by her mother offering me hot chocolate.
“Would you like some hot chocolate, Butch?” Mrs. O’Connell asked from the kitchen door
“Yes! Thank you, Mrs. O’Connell!”
Mrs. O’Connell spun on her high heels and went back into the kitchen. When she was out of sight, Patsy said softly: “I’m going to have a baby.”
I was stunned and sat there for a few moments, trying to form a good question.
“Whose?” I finally said, a too loudly
“Does it matter?” She shot back
“No. No. Not really, I guess.” I answered ruefully
“Does he know?”
“Yeah. He knows. He says it isn’t his.”
I was angry, and started thinking of dragging Danny out to the back and beating the crap out of him. “Can you get a blood test?” I finally asked
“I don’t want to.” she said, tossing her head in the only display of anger I saw in her that day. “Butch, please don’t say anything to Danny!”
I bit my lip as Mrs. O’Connell came back in with a mug of hot chocolate in each hand, and sat one down in front of each of us. “I hope you like marshmallows, Butch”
“I sure do, Mrs. O’Connell”
“I made it just the way you like it, Patsy”
“Thank you mother.”
“I’ll be right here in the kitchen” Mrs. O’Connell said as she went back into the kitchen, letting us know that she was near just in case any untoward thing happened in that room.
“Oh mother. We will be fine. It is just Butch” Patsy said to the retreating figure
“Danny said he isn’t the father and isn’t going to be responsible.”
“What an asshole. What are you going to do, Patsy?”
“I don’t know. When Papa finds out, he is going to kill me!”
We talked a bit more, though I don’t remember much else of the conversation. I had to be home soon for dinner. She looked so small, huddled in her chair, hot chocolate in her hand. I felt so useless leaving her like that. I thought of marrying her myself to give the baby a name, but I kept the thought to myself. That was not so uncommon back in those days.
Later, after I said goodbye to Patsy and was walking out the front door, Mrs. O’Connell grabbed me by the shoulders and fiercely whispered to me: “You have to help her, Butch. You have to. She has nobody. Reilly will beat her to death if he finds out.”
Reilly was famous for his violence. He was as tough as they came in that part of the country where tough men were bred. It was rumored that he even spared with Jack Dempsey, the famous boxer that came from a nearby village. I knew I sure didn’t want to mess with him.
My Uncle Otto was visiting us that week, and he was sitting on the sofa when I returned from my visit with Patsy. We greeted each other, then I left him to wash up for supper. When I came back he was still sitting on the sofa, watching me.
“You look like you got the weight of the world on your shoulders, Champ!”
“Oh, it is nothing. A girl I know at school is pregnant, and her father isn’t going to take it very well.”
“Why doesn’t her mother take her to Albuquerque and get it fixed?”
“What do they fix in Albuquerque?”
“They fix it so women aren’t pregnant anymore.”
“How do they do that?” I asked.
“I don’t rightly know. They get rid of the baby somehow.”
“Do you know the doctor?”
“Yeah, ‘cept he isn’t really a doctor. He just calls himself doctor. I met him at the dog track a few years back.”
“Can you get his name?”
Otto took his time to answer as he gazed steadily back at me. “Do you want to take the girl there?”
“I dunno.” I said as casually as my racing heart would allow
“Is the baby yours?”
“No. She’s just a friend of mine.”
“I’ll give you his name and phone number after dinner. Just tell him that you’ve got a problem, don’t say anything about a baby.”
I had heard the word abortion before, and knew it had something to do with not having a baby, but that is all I really knew back in that age of innocence. I didn’t know that Doc R. Sanchez was an abortionist, nor did I know exactly what it was or what he did. But I did figure he could help Patsy. I was still thinking at that time that I could marry her, take care of her, and raise the baby as my own. I sure was galled by the idea of raising Danny’s kid, though. I got the kid, he got the cherry. I knew instinctively that no matter how hard I tried to be a father to the baby, it would still be Danny’s child.
Patsy came over again after dinner. Uncle Otto tossed me the keys to his huge Buick and said: “Why don’t the two of you go get a coke or something.” Gratefully we accepted his generosity, and went out to the Buick and drove off. We drove in silence, Patsy with her hands in her lap, disinterestedly watching the downtown stores go by on our way out to the drive-in.
She turned to me before we got to Main Street and said: “Can we just go to the park instead? I really don’t want to be seen at the drive-in.”
“OK” I replied. I didn’t exactly want to go there either. I didn’t know if any of the other classmates knew of Patsy’s predicament, and it was likely that Danny was there too. It could be awkward, though I think I could have taken Danny in a fight. Fair or otherwise. But rare wisdom ruled that day, and we parked by one of the picnic tables along the river bank. I shut off the lights but left the motor and heater running, tuned the radio to XELO in Juarez, Mexico, and we listened to the top 40 tunes and Wolfman Jack for a while.
Finally, not finding a good opening, I went ahead and said; “My uncle gave me the name of a doctor in Albuquerque that might help you.”
“I already saw the doctor.”
“This one is not a real doctor. He can get you unpregnant.”
“He’s an abortionist?” she asked, intently
“I dunno. What’s an abortionist?
“Someone who gets rid of a baby.”
“Maybe that is what he is.” I offered. “Uncle Otto didn’t say.”
“Is abortion legal in Albuquerque?”
“I don’t know. I’ve never been to an abortionist.”
“Me neither.” She said, looking furtively out the window.
I looked for an opening for my next thought, and being there wasn’t one there either, I dove in with; “I been thinking. We could get married, and give the baby a name, and I could look after you.”
“You would be the baby’s father? You would raise your best friend’s baby? I don’t think that would be as easy for you as you think, Butch.” She replied sharply
“Danny and I haven’t been best friends since school started. In fact, I hardly see him at all.”
“I don’t think it would work, Butch. And I think too much of you to use you that way. I wish I could just end it all.”
“I don’t think that is a good answer.” I lamely replied.
“Did I tell you I tried last week?”
“I couldn’t do it.”
We sat in silence some more as the music played on. I could see her start to say something several times, then stop, letting her hands rest in her lap. Then she finally blurted out; “Would you help me in this, Butch? I don’t know what to do.”
“Help you in what?”
“Go see that man in Albuquerque.”
“Yes. I don’t know how, but yes, I will.” I said back, as earnestly as I could.
Patsy, saying the obvious, replied. “We’ll need to go when Papa is gone, and be back before he returns.”
“I don’t have a car.” I interjected.
“Can you borrow one?”
“I dunno. I’ll ask Uncle Otto.”
We listened to a couple more songs, then I drove Patsy home. Mrs. O’Connell was peeking out the window as Patsy said goodnight to me, and walked up the broken steps to the front door. As soon as I saw she was safely inside, I dove home.
Uncle Otto was sitting on the couch listening to the radio when I went in. I handed him the keys and thanked him for the use of the car.
“Was that the girl?” he asked.
“Girl what?” I answered guardedly.
“The girl who is knocked up.”
“Yeah.” I answered and sat down on the couch with him. “She wants to see Doc Sanchez, and she wants me to take her.”
“That’s a three and a half hour drive there, champ. How are you going to get the car for eight or ten hours?” He asked.
“I don’t know. I have to think of something. Patsy and her mother are depending on me.”
“Her mother knows? Why doesn’t she take her?”
“She doesn’t drive. And if she did, her father would be sure to find out why they went. He is a hard man.”
“I don’t know why I am about to do this, Champ, but I am going to help you in this. Don’t ever tell your mother about me helpin’ you in this. Let me know when you are going and I’ll loan you the Buick and give you gas money. You got to promise to be careful. You have never driven that long of a trip, nor have you ever been to Albuquerque. I’ll draw you a map to Docs place. Don’t tell him you know me.”
I was so relieved I almost hugged him. Of course, men did not hug back then, and I didn’t. Nevertheless, Uncle Otto saved my day. I could hardly wait to tell Patsy, but I knew her father was going to be home for a couple of days, and I probably would not see her if she didn’t go to school.
Again, in those times, boys just didn’t call ladies unless it was to ask them out. And that was only after speaking politely to one of the parents for a respectful amount of time. And Reilly was not the sort of person you wanted to talk to when you had any interest in his daughter. So I would have to just wait. Maybe she could come by for a brief visit just after suppertime, if she told him she was visiting one of my sisters. She often did that, but at one minute past nine, he was on the phone wanting to know where she was. She usually made sure she was home by 8:30 just to avoid any hassles.
I didn’t see Patsy for a couple of days, though, and I could see her father’s green Pontiac parked in front of the house. There were times when he would go several days without getting called out for an overnight delivery, and I was hoping that this wasn’t one of those times.
But Wednesday, on my way home from school, I saw the Pontiac was gone, and I went up the walkway to the door. Again Mrs. O’Connell met me at the door and ushered me in. Her eyes and nose were red from crying, and her normally well groomed, flaming red hair was a tangled mess.
“Can you help Patsy, Butch?” She whispered to me. “We don’t have much time. Reilly will be back this weekend.”
“Do you know where we will be going, Mrs. O’Connell?” I asked. I had talked to some people about this thing called abortion by then, and I knew for certain that it was illegal, and that my abetting it was illegal, and that my taking Patsy across a State line for it was probably a Federal violation of some kind, and I now knew that it was forbidden by Patsy’s church. I would have no friends in this endeavor.
“I know. Please take care of my daughter, Butch.” She whispered hoarsely.
“I will. When can she leave? We will need a whole day.”
“Tomorrow! It must be tomorrow!”
“I will call my uncle for the car tonight.”
“Let me know, please?”
“I will.” I assured her. “Can I see Patsy?”
Patsy was sitting on her bed pressed up against the headboard with an afghan coverlet pulled up around her. She was also disheveled and had obviously been crying too. Mrs. O’Connell left us without her usual warning that she was nearby.
“Can you go tomorrow, Patsy?”
“I must. I really must. But I am so frightened, Butch.”
“I can imagine.”
“No you can’t.”
“Well, anyway, I will call ‘doc’ Sanchez and make sure he knows we are coming.”
“Butch. Thank you. I just knew you would pull through. I just knew it.”
“I have to go. I’ll call you after dinner.”
“Thank you, Butch.”
I quickly left for home, I knew I was going to be questioned for being late. I decided the honest approach was best, and told my parents that I had stopped by to check on Patsy since she hadn’t been to school for a couple of weeks. They accepted the excuse without questioning me. They liked Patsy, and I am not so sure but what my mother would have liked to see us married. If only she knew how close to reality that almost became!
Right after dinner, I called Uncle Otto, and we made a secret pact to meet at the school in the morning. I could drive him home after picking up Patsy, since his farm was on the way. I had already told my parents that I wouldn’t be home for dinner because of practice, and they accepted that excuse as well. I didn’t know what I was going to do for an absence slip, but I would work that out later, somehow.
Then I walked to the corner grocery and called doc Sanchez, explaining that I had a ‘problem’ and would be in Albuquerque around noon. He asked if I was related, and I answered “Not Yet.”
I wrote down some instructions he gave me and hung up. The next problem was cash. I had thirty-five dollars, and he wanted fifty. Stopping by Patsy’s house for a moment, I told Mrs. O’Connell that I was still twenty-five dollars short of having enough. Mrs. O’Connell clasped me to her, pressing her cheek against mine, and pulling me into her, which was a little embarrassing. She was quite a bit older than I, but she was trim and not bad looking! Then she released me to catch my breath, and danced to the kitchen to retrieve five very carefully folded five dollar bills from the cookie jar, then waltzed back to me and tucked it into my shirt pocket before giving me another one of those embarrassing hugs.
“Patsy is sleeping now.” She said. “She has had a very rough day and I don’t want to wake her.”
“That’s OK. I’ll pick her up about 8:30 in the morning.” I said, and turned to exit.
From behind me, she placed a hand on my shoulder and said into my ear, “Good night, Butch. And thank you for taking care of my daughter!”
I walked on back to the house, still feeling her imprint on my body and her scent in my nostrils. I still had things to do before sleeping and the vague feelings that were rising up in me were clouding my mind. Pleasantly.
But above all things, I had to act normal. So when I got home, I sat down to do my homework. It was a quick assignment, which was good. That soft imprint of Mrs. O’Connell’s was still confusing me, and I needed to shower. I did get to sleep, albeit with some dreams of Mrs. O’Connell and her red polka dot house dress.
By morning though, I was all business. I felt like a jewel thief planning a heist. I must not give myself away. So I casually ate breakfast, bantered with my sisters, and then began the 11 block hike to school. I could take the bus, but it was so very uncool. Not having a car was uncool, but riding a bus to school was uncooler.
And sure enough, there was Uncle Otto, parked by the schoolhouse, white steam coming from the exhaust of his idling Buick in the frigid morning air. He was sitting in the passenger seat, so I hopped into the warm car on the driver’s side. I started to put the car in gear and drive off, but Otto stopped me.
“Whoa there, champ! We go things to get in order first!” Then he reached in his pocket and handed me five twenties. “You will need gas money, and be sure to stop and eat on the way down. You probably won’t want to on the way back.”
I didn’t know what he meant by that. But then, I didn’t know much about anything in those days.
“And I hand wrote an absence excuse for you from your dad. I know how he talks and how he signs his name. Give it to the school when you return tomorrow. Now don’t get any tickets and be safe. I can’t cover for you on those things. And stop for a late breakfast on the way down. You won’t feel like eating on your way back.”
There it was again. I didn’t know what he meant by it that time, either.
“Now let’s go get the girl, and then you can drop me off at the ranch. Stop back by the farm when you return, and I will drop you and the girl off at her house. I hope it all goes well.”
I put the big Straight Eight into gear and wound it away from the parking space. In just a couple of minutes we were at Patsy’s doorstep. Uncle Otto stayed in the car while I went up the walk to get Patsy. The door opened before I got there, Patsy and her mother hugged each other for a final time, and we all walked out into the cold December morning. Uncle Otto got out and let Patsy slide into the center of the huge bench seat, then slid in behind her. I slid into the driver’s seat, rolled down the window so that she could make her last goodbyes, and tried to avert my eyes from Mrs. O’Connell’s pale skin peeking out from her quilted robe as she reached in to stroke Patsy’s hair one last time.
Then it was off. It took fifteen minutes to get to Uncle Otto’s farm, and he promptly got out and bid us a safe farewell. Patsy did not slide over into the empty space, though. She sat next to me as we pulled back out onto the highway and began our trek south. I liked the feeling of her sitting next to me, and the miles seemed to go by too quickly.
It was almost 9:30 now, which would put us into Albuquerque around 12:30. Doc was expecting us at 1:30, so we had plenty of time to stop and eat on the way down. But I had a big Buick 88 and a beautiful girl by my side, a hundred dollars in my pocket, and I had forgotten the seriousness of the trip. Morning radio back then was mostly Country Corn, but it didn’t matter. We sang lustily to Little Jimmy Dickens, Hank Snow and a whole host of other unknown Country singers.
And I followed Uncle Otto’s advice, and stopped in Española for a bite of breakfast. Patsy just had a sweet roll, but I had a full breakfast. Then we clambered back into the Buick and rolled on through St. Fe and finally into Albuquerque. Doc had given me good directions, and I pulled into his “office” half an hour early.
Office wasn’t the word for that dump. It was an old adobe house in Old Town. It still had traces of terra blanca, a white adobe plaster, but for the most part, the bricks were exposed to the elements. There was no sign, but everything checked out with Uncle Otto’s map and directions. There was a rustic blue door leading into the tiny adobe building. There was no mistake.
Patsy and I looked at each other, and I told her that we could go back if she wanted.
“No.” she said resignedly. “I just can’t go back home pregnant. I just can’t.”
“Well, let’s go then.”
The door led to a small dusty room, maybe 10′ x 10′. It had two rough sawn table chairs sitting against the on a pine plank floor. There was no other furniture, nor were they curtains on the window. It was just a bare room with another door, painted the same peeling bright blue as the outside door, which led off to another room.
A small Hispanic man came in, followed by a heavy set, but young Hopi woman, and introduced himself as Doc Sanchez.
“Did you bring the money, yes?” he asked. I took out the two twenty’s and the one ten and handed it to him.
“Good! Good! Tina! Get the table ready!” he went on. Then looking out the door at the Buick parked outside, he said: “That looks like a compadre of mine’s car? Are you related to Otto Buchannan?”
“No.” I lied, remembering Otto’s stern warning to not let Doc Sanchez know that he was related to me.
“OK. OK. You sit here.” he said before turning to Patsy. “You come with me. You will be fine! Fine!”
The door closed behind them, and I sat in the rickety handmade chair. I could hear the creak of wood as they moved about the other room, then banging of pans on the wood floor, a sharp cry from Patsy and unintelligible words from Doc Sanchez. Then there was a long silence.
Finally, in what seemed to be hours, but wasn’t much more than 20 minutes, the “doctor” came out. Patsy followed behind him. She was pale, and was holding her stomach while walking with very small steps.
“Leave the packing in until you get home. Then take it out before you go to bed. Remember, if the police talk to you, tell them you just have a stomach ache, OK?”
Patsy nodded her head in dejected agreement and continued out to the car while I rushed ahead of her to open the door. She slowly slid in, hands still folded over her tummy. Doc quickly closed and bolted the door behind us as I closed Patsy’s door and went around to the driver’s side and slid in under the gigantic wheel.
It began snowing on the way back, so it took a couple hours longer to get home. We didn’t say too much, though I did stupidly ask her several times if she was ok. I once looked over at her and the tears were softly flowing down her cheeks. I reached over and stroked her hair in an attempt to comfort her, and she took my hand and laid her wet cheek in the cup of my palm, then laid down with her head on my thigh, pulled her knees up to her chest, and closed her eyes. I could hear her sobbing from time to time, but the snow obscured the road and it took all my attention to keep the car on the road, and I could offer so little in the way of comfort.
After what seemed to be days on the road, we pulled into Uncle Otto’s farm. He must have been expecting us, because he was standing in drive when as we pulled up. Looking in the window and seeing Patsy’s still form in the front seat, he silently got into the back seat and beckoned me on. We didn’t talk at all on the final leg to Patsy’s house. Mrs. O’Connell must have been waiting for us too. I hardly stopped rolling before she ran out of the house and began tugging at the passenger door.
She helped Patsy out of the car, and as I started to follow them up the walk, Mrs. O’Connell said: “We can handle it from here, Butch. Thank you so much!”
That was my cue to go home. I walked back to the car to tell Uncle Otto goodnight. He had lit a cigarette, which was odd. Otto didn’t smoke that I knew of.
“Tonight you grew a little, Champ.”
“I guess. I don’t feel like I have” I responded dully.
Then he rolled up the window and pulled away from the curb, while I walked down to the corner to stand under the swaying incandescent streetlight. The door was shut and the porch light was off at Patsy’s house. I could see the back porch light of my house. The snow was silently falling and I walked through the deepening snow into the alleyway to our back door.
Although I saw Patsy several times afterwards in school, we never had one of our talks again. She withdrew from the glee club and the thespians and didn’t attend any of the dances or proms. I lost sight of her, yet another loss in my life.
The other day, her name showed up on facebook. I took a peek at her home page. Most of her personal information was hidden, and in place of a picture, she had some sort of a non-descript but fluffy design. From the clues, such as friends and such, I knew it was her.
I placed my cursor over the add link, looked at the page for several minutes recalling those times of yore, then without clicking on the link I closed the page. I hope she found love and happiness in her life, that she left despair behind her. I just wanted to remember her as that frail, woman-child who for the briefest of moments needed me.
Since then, I have taken an active role with two other women who were in similar circumstances, but they, unlike Patsy, walked into a bright cheery clinic with nurses in spanking clean attire. But they too walked with pale faces and small steps out of the clinic, holding their tummies. And they too laid in the car seat on the way home.
I hate abortion. I despise those who run abortion mills. I am appalled at people who use abortion as a birth control method. I think it is the callous murder of innocents. And I mostly despise people who call the procedure “women’s health”. There is nothing healthy about it and I grieve with those three women.
Yet I hope a woman never has to have to go to another Doc Sanchez, and look at the practice as unavoidable evil. If you had an abortion, I do not judge you. If you need an abortion, I want you to have a safe one. I just wish they were not necessary.