Chapter 7 - The Joy of Motherhood
The pleasant glow of hamburgers filled their souls and stomachs.
Rubby never worried much when his stomach was full, so he decided to share his wisdom with his younger friend. "It's times like this that remind me how lucky I am. No responsibilities and nobody to take care of. I'm free to enjoy every minute the good Lord gave me."
"Then why in the devil's name do you drink so much rubbing alcohol?" Chuck challenged.
"That's just one of the ways I enjoy every minute. Now I know the good book says I shouldn't be drinkin' so much, but I also know Jesus is goin' to forgive a sinner like me for not bein' as strong as he is. I do the best job oflivin' that I can do, so there's no shame in me havin' a few drinks to get me through."
"I'm about ready for a little nap," Chuck yawned. "A good meal always makes me sleepy." He patted his stomach. "I know a good place to catch a nap in the daytime, and so do you."
"Seems to me it's a little early in the day to be sleepin'. Course I could probably relax faster with a nice pint of something to drink; not that I'm askin' for anything."
Chuck made a counter offer. "Alright, it's no problem, but I'm not gonna get you any rubbing alcohol. We'll go into the store together and get you some wine, okay?"
"Seems like everybody's a little uppity about my choice of drinks, but if you're buyin', I'll let you get me somethin' nice. How about one of those bottles with nothin' wrote on the label except Red Wine? They're pretty good, and they don't cost much."
Chuck fought back an old feeling of disgust for the generic genre of the grape, but quickly came back to the real world of low finance and agreed to his friend's request. When they wandered out of store Rubby's clutched his bottle of Red Wine as Chuck swilled down his can of coke.
People who live on the streets generally get up when the sun gets up, then keep it company all day. There are a lot of reasons for this strange behavior, the best one being that it's tough to sleep while the sun tries to roast your retinas and scorch your skin. Most of the shade has been claimed by suits, in an aggressive campaign to keep non-suits in the direct sunlight whenever possible. If you've ever wondered why you meet so many grouchy or disoriented homeless people, blame it on lack of sleep. They're pretty much like anybody who has to get up early.
"You know, Rub, we oughta' stake this place out and sell tickets. Naps, a buck an hour, at Rub 'n Chuck's Snooze Heaven."
"Let's stop scammin' for awhile and take it easy in the shade instead," Rubby admonished as they rounded the outer wall of their special alcove. "This here's my idea of a summer vacation."
They stepped around the corner and into the alley behind the family planning clinic. Before the two could slip into the hidden alcove, they saw they'd been beaten by a blonde teenaged girl who trembled in the midday darkness.
"Leave me alone. I was here first. You two find your own spot. I've got a gun and I'll use it. There's nothing to lose by shooting you bastards." Her words sounded tough, but her voice betrayed helplessness.
"I'm sorry, we didn't mean to bug you," said Chuck soothingly. "It's just that this is one of the best spots around to catch a nap without anybody hassling us."
"It was until you guys showed up. Leave me alone, and go find yourself another flop." Her voice sounded strange, and her breath was measured.
"Are you okay?"
"I can get along without you and your nigger friend just fine, so leave."
"Come on, Rubby, I know another spot that's almost as good."
"Good enough for me. You're the one who's so all fired hot to take a nap anyway," the old black man growled.
As they reached the end of the alley, the girl screamed with a vigor that would have terrified a banshee. Chuck instinctively turned around and ran back to the alcove. He found the girl curled into the fetal position, whimpering as if she'd been beaten.
"What in the hell's wrong with you?" Chuck demanded, "And I want the truth."
"Okay Shithead, inquiring minds like yours want to know," she whimpered. "I'm a junkie, and I haven't had a fix in like two days. I'm PG; you know, pregnant. I think my baby wants to be born right now. It's not due for like a month, but it's kicking hard and it fucking hurts like hell."
Chuck's eyes had started to adjust to the dim light as Rubby called out blindly, "Chuck, where you hidin' yourself. I oughta' be able to spot somethin' as white as you back here. This place is darker than the inside of a cow."
"I'm in the same place we were just standing, Rub. Now just take it slow and follow our voices." Chuck then turned his attention back to the girl. "So when you screamed just now, that was caused by the baby?"
"Why the questions, Jackshit? Is this a fucking wino quiz show? Why'd you come back anyway? I thought I told you to leave, you know?" She still sounded defiant, but her tone was almost pleading.
"Maybe I can help you. Do you have parents I can call, or maybe a boyfriend or a husband?"
"Yeah, right," she spewed sarcastically. "My husband and I live in this lovely, partially furnished alley. Wait, I think I hear his Porsche out in the driveway right now. I'm sure! Do you really think I'd be lying here in this stinking alley talking to a fuck ass bum if I had someplace else? Duh!"
"She sounds a mite unfriendly to me, Chuck. I'd say just leave her alone like she wants. When a she bear growls, you don't stand around askin' her why she's growlin'." The old man had homed in on the sound, but he still approached slowly. His thick glasses and the ravages of isopropyl alcohol made his eyes useless in the dim light.
Chuck decided she was one of the neighborhood runaways. He thought he recognized her face through the gloom, though it had aged several years since he'd seen her turning tricks a few months before. "Do you want me to call someone for you? Maybe an ambulance or your parents or anybody?"
She sat up in terror and demanded, "No, don't call my parents, whatever you do, keep them out of this. When I'm rich I can talk to them, but not now; they can't see me now. No way."
"Then I guess there's really not much I can do after all." Chuck started to leave and reached for Rubby's shoulder. "C'mon Rub, let's find our place out of the sun."
"No wait, man. There's one thing I really need, you know...get me a bag." Her tone suddenly turned professional. "I'll make it worth your time."
"A bag? Wait a minute, if you're pregnant, the last thing you need is heroin. You've gotta be crazy. Do you know what that shit does to a fetus?"
"Do you know what this fetus did to me you dipshit? Just get me a bag, and don't give me, you know, Nancy Reagan. You don't know how much it hurts. Get me a fix and I'll feel good again." Before she could continue her sales pitch, she doubled up and shrieked again.
"Rubby, for christsakes get an ambulance down here. This kid's gonna' pop a pup any minute and she needs help."
"No," she shrieked, "They'll take away my baby if they find out I'm a junkie, Gerry said so. Just go away and let me do this myself, the way women did it before doctors and hospitals."
"Okay, you've got it," Chuck bluffed as he turned and started to walk off.
"No, wait Asshole. You can stay if you don't start preaching to me again."
"Alright, I'll stay until the ambulance comes. Just relax. I know you're scared, and I can't say I blame you."
"I'm not scared. I'm never afraid. I've been out on my own for nearly a year now and I can handle myself." She let out a little yip, then went on quickly, "I was kind of nervous when I first left home, but I'm tough and I learned how things work pretty fast. I was at the top of my class in my sophomore year, you know."
"Yeah, I can see you're a sophisticated woman of the world. How old are you anyway, fourteen? fifteen?"
"Fuck you, man! I'm eighteen and a half, almost nineteen."
"Yeah, right; and I'm John Lennon."
"John who?" Her speech sounded like a machine gun. "Ahh, shit, it doesn't matter anyway; one John's just like the next," her voice trembled.
"So how long have you been turning tricks out here?" Chuck hoped the small talk would distract the girl until the paramedics could take over. Despite first aid training in a previous life, he'd never delivered a baby before. He didn't welcome the opportunity for hands-on experience in this filthy alley.
"Shit, I was turning tricks before I left home. It was maybe a year ago when Daddy decided he liked me in a 'special' way; at least that's what he called it. He started to come into my room to tuck me in on nights when Mother was out with one of her committees. Only, he started getting more friendly when he tucked me in. After a while he started to put his hands on me on places he wasn't supposed to touch me. It felt weird and it scared me. I love Daddy, but was it right for him to do that?" She started to sniffle and tremble. "Damn you, if you'd just get me a bag, none of this shit would matter."
"Did you ask him to stop?"
"No, I paid him to keep it up. What do you think Asshole? He didn't want to stop. He said it was the normal thing to do, like everybody does it, but nobody talks about it. And that's why he said I shouldn't talk about it either."
"And you believed him?" Chuck demanded, incredulously.
"I had to believe him. Besides, with all the other bullshit stuff normal people don't talk about, I didn't know if it was true or not," she wearily expounded. "For that matter, I still don't know."
"Kid, trust me; it's not true. You should have turned the horny old bastard over to the police."
"For an old man, you're pretty stupid. My Daddy is Rex Randall. You know, the TV anchorman. Nobody is going to believe he could do something wrong. I don't believe it myself, and he's my own father. If I went to the police, they would laugh at me and call Daddy. Then he'd cut off my allowance and ground me so he could have me at home even more."
"Keep talking kid, it helps, believe me. So what's your name?"
"It's Alison, but don't wear it out. Daddy chose it, and Mother said it was okay with her. That's how it always was; Daddy made all the decisions around the house and she went along with him. Mother was born without a spine.
Oh Jesus, here comes another one," she moaned, just before another scream escaped from her lungs. "I think I feel it...it's time. Help me John," she pleaded. "Help me and my baby... Daddy's baby."
Chuck was too busy to be shocked. A huge wet spot glared out from Alison's too tight jeans. "I think your water broke, maybe quite awhile ago from the look of things. I've got to get these jeans off you if this kid's ready to pop out."
"I usually charge for that," she grinned weakly, slowly undoing the fly for him. She tried to lift her butt up off the pavement to help Chuck get access to the birth canal. She finally gave up and let him do the deed unassisted.
Chuck carefully folded her jeans and put them under her head. He peeled off his prized second hand overcoat and pulled it under Alison's bare rump. "Look Alison, I hardly know you, but it looks like we're gonna get to know each other a whole lot better in the next few minutes, so just relax. The paramedics will be here soon to help you...I hope. But just in case they're a little late, I'm here, okay."
"Yeah, right Dickface; just you and me together. But promise you won't let them take my baby away. They'll try, you know. Gerry told me they would unless he helped me."
"Who the hell is this Gerry? I thought you said you father's name was Rex."
"Actually, my father's name is Malcolm. He just uses Rex Randall on the air. Gerry is the man who was taking care of me."
"Oh, so he's your pimp," he replied knowingly.
"Fuck you. I never had a pimp. Gerry led the Operation Savior protest in front of that abortion clinic over there the day I was stupid enough to come down and try to have them kill the baby inside me."
"You mean this Gerry is one of those self righteous assholes who thinks he has the right to block the entrance to abortion clinics? How in the hell did you ever get tied up with him?"
"You have it all backwards dildo. Gerry and his friends stopped me from making a big mistake. If they hadn't chained themselves across the door to the clinic, I would have murdered my baby. But Gerry stopped me. He gave me his card and told me he wanted to help me keep my baby. I was really fucked up then. I just wanted to get rid of the baby my own father had put inside me, you know?"
Chuck knew he was about three steps behind Alison's light speed delivery, so he kept butting in with questions. "So you ran away from home when you found out your father made you pregnant?"
"I ran away from home when I got tired of my father raping me a couple of times a week, you asshole. I didn't even know I was pregnant until I'd been on the streets for a couple of months. By then I was already doing smack and I didn't see how I could afford my habit if my stomach was bulging with a brat. That's why I wanted the abortion. Of course, that's not exactly what I told Gerry. He thought I was hooking so I could send money home to my mother so she could take care of my little brothers and sisters back in the midwest."
"What? He believed that? You don't expect me to swallow this crap do you?"
Alison shrugged, then cringed with pain. "Believe what you want, Dipstick, I don't really care. I'm just telling you what happened. Gerry has a wife and four kids down in Orange County, but they don't even care about him as a person. They just use him and take his money. I'm not sure why he helped me, but the least I could do was give him love in return."
"You mean sex, don't you?
"Love, sex; there's no fucking difference. I gave him what he wanted, and he took care of me. I could score drugs and I didn't have to hook. It was perfect until a couple of weeks ago when his bitch wife found out. He dumped me and wouldn't even answer my phone calls. What a pud. I thought he was my friend."
Rubby shambled back up the alley and shouted at Chuck, "Hey, I finally got through to the ambulance. They said they didn't have nobody in Hollywood today. They're gonna send a ambulance from some other place as soon as they can." Rubby's timid slouch had become a pronounced stagger. He'd managed to transfer all of the red wine from the bottle into his stomach since he'd left to make the phone call. "Chuck, talk so I can find ya'll back there."
"Over here Rub," Chuck called, as he turned soothingly to his patient. "You heard that Alison, there's an ambulance on the way. Hang tough." He gently patted her leg as he watched for signs of a small head popping out from between the womanchild's thighs.
Alison lurched as she groaned sharply. "I think this is it. I'll bet if I was back in Brentwood the ambulance would already be here. Can you imagine them telling Rex Randall he'd have to wait for an ambulance?" The womanchild laughed evilly, but started to hyperventilate. She swallowed hard and moaned, "Oh God, I need a fix."
"Just take it easy, you're doing fine. Now just relax as you push that little baby out. He's starting to come out and we've both got to help him. That's a good girl. Just breathe deeply and regularly and let it happen." Chuck watched a tiny purple head ooze out into his hands. The head was unbelievably tiny, even for a newborn. "Keep pushing, he's halfway out already."
Although he'd never delivered a baby before, he'd seen several training films, in and out of the army. This baby didn't look right at all. It was far too small, and was hardly moving. "There, we're almost done," he reassured her, "Just keep pushing a little more. Rubby, get over here. I may need you to hold the baby."
Rubby reeled in Chuck's direction and plopped himself down on the pavement nearby. Alison screamed again as the infant's legs and feet popped free.
Chuck worked to get a decent grip on the slippery little infant, then held him upside down and gave him a whack on the butt like he'd seen in the films. The baby didn't make a sound. It hardly moved at all. Handling it cautiously to avoid injury to the delicate umbilical. Chuck gave it another whack. The infant didn't even seem to notice.
The alley light wasn't very good, but it was obvious that there was a lot wrong with this baby. The right arm looked more like a bird's leg than a human limb, while the left seemed too long for the tiny body. One side of the face was smaller than the other, which made the child look like a gargoyle.
Chuck was about to make up a pleasant lie to soothe Alison when she let out the most horrific noise screeched by any human before or since. He turned to face her and saw a major gush of blood, followed by something that looked like a dead sea anemone.
"Shit, it's the placenta. That's not supposed to pop loose this soon. Alison, hang on. Where the fucking hell is the goddamned ambulance. Rubby, do what you can do for this little guy." Chuck started to hand the motionless infant to his friend.
"No, let me hold my baby," Alison screamed. "Nobody will ever take him away from me."
"But it's not a good idea right now," Chuck stalled. "Wait until I get the bleeding stopped, it'll be safer."
"And what if you can't get the bleeding stopped, Asshole?" she said quietly. "It's my baby and I want to hold it now."
It seemed that the verbal battle was only making her bleed faster, so he relented. "Careful, he's a slippery little rascal. I can't do much for him, maybe when the ambulance gets here..." his voice trailed off as he handed the tiny purple monster to its mother.
Alison cradled the damaged prize of her loins and didn't seem to notice his shortcomings. She cuddled him and cooed softly until she passed out from loss of blood.
Chuck frantically worked to stop the hemorrhaging caused by the torn placenta. He raised Alison's feet as high above her heart as he could manage in the barren alley. It slowed the blood somewhat, but didn't stop it. He kept busy with every first aid trick he knew, but nothing seemed to help.
The noise of the ambulance siren roused Rubby as it passed by aimlessly the first time. He stumbled out to the street and flagged down the confused driver.
The red and white van's headlights illuminated Chuck's hunched form. His shoulders heaved in unison with his mournful moans. His face was on one side of Alison's small, tear-soaked chest; the infant monster was on the other, lovingly cradled in her motionless arms.
The paramedic professionally peeled Chuck away from the young mother and made a quick inspection in the light of the blue and white flash of the emergency strobes.
"No need for that," Chuck snarled, "They're both dead. They've been dead for half an hour you son of a bitch. Where the fuck were you, out eating doughnuts someplace?"
"Take it easy sir, we've made no determination yet," the detached paramedic imperiated. "Now why don't you just step back for a minute and let us do our jobs. We can help them better without interference."
"Yeah, right, you bullshit artist. I know dead when I see it, and you should too if you're any good at your job."
"Sir, even the most serious cases sometimes turn out better than expected, and I've been doing this for eleven years now. I suggest you back off and let us do what we can. Otherwise, I'll call the police in. Understand?"
Chuck turned and stormed out of the alley. "Too bad Gerry and his Operation Savior cronies couldn't see the results of their fine and righteous works of civil disobedience," he yelled to nobody.
He got to the nearby phone booth and called Rex Randall's TV station. After wading through levels of flunkies, he told the bastard that his runaway daughter and his newborn son had just died in an alley behind the abortion clinic. As Chuck spoke to the unbelieving TV star, Rubby dawdled out of the alley shaking his sad, gray head.
The ambulance rolled past them and slowly drove off.
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