Wednesday, November 25, 2015

My Best of 2015

There's something about this time of year that makes me wait to look back and reminisce about the year that's now in the past. As I've read back through my notes, journals, and, of course, my blog, I've found some of my favorites from 2015 to share here with you. Enjoy!

I hear voices. These come from children, women and men who are speaking about the bullies in our lives, those that use manipulation, coercion, intimidation and ideology to justify egregious acts in our homes, schoolyards, workplaces, sports arenas, corporations, and countries. Some voices are faint and I strain to hear the words; others are loud enough to be heard around the world; and then, there is a deafening silence that scares me the most.
Read the entire story>>

The use of manipulation, coercion, intimidation, and/or physical force, defines the tactics of a bully’s game, whether it is in the home, schoolyard, workplace, sports arena, corporations, countries, or in our relationships. It is a mean game wherever it is played; the same sport, different arenas. And who has not at one time or another been a player? There are winners and losers in any game, but today I salute some of the winners.

My friend's granddaughter, an introspective, pretty girl of thirteen, is in junior high school. She started the year without a best friend, without a clique to hang with. Five mean girls reminded her daily that she was a loser: nasty remarks about her appearance, sniping with cruel taunts, making a game of “Who has to sit next to (holding one’s nose) Emma?” Or making sure she heard, and understood, that she was not invited to the birthday party of a classmate.  
Read the entire story>>

Mind Your Manners
Shane Licht: His Story
One fateful day in 1994, one bad decision changed a twelve year old’s life forever. Initially home from school for a snow day, Shane invited his best friend over to his house, ignoring the message that the school bus would be on a later schedule. Both boys knew about gun safety, knew better than to pick up a gun, whether it was loaded or not. Tragically, the gun discharged in his friend’s hand and the bullet struck Shane, paralyzing him from the neck down.
Read the entire story>>

Shame on You
It is interesting to me how in one week I have read two articles, extreme in opposite of content; one about shaming children on social media, by Robbyn Peters Bennett in the Sunday, August 23, 2015, edition of Seattle Times and another from the writer Susan Sontag’s journal, “Don’t Reprimand Him Harshly", published in the July/August 2015 issue of Reader’s Digest. Both articles speak to parenting skills; one highlights the most damaging form of discipline, public shaming by bully parents, the other, a mother’s eleven commandments on how to discipline her son, while respecting his personhood.
Read the entire story>>

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Forcing the Hand of God: Chapter 18 (part 2)

In a flurry of white uniforms, a tall, robust grey-haired woman emerged from the group, quietly giving orders. Rodger stood in the middle, clasping Adele’s hand, noting the pin on the nurse’s uniform: Mary Richards, Head Nurse. The procession moved toward the doors. Rodger stepped up to the head nurse.

“Where the hell is the doctor?”

“Train accident south side.”

“What the...” Rodger’s voice dissolved with Adele’s scream. He dogged the nurse’s footsteps. “Are you going to deliver our baby?”

“Yes,” she started to move past him.

Rodger straightened. “Have you done it before?”

She looked over her shoulder at him. “Over five hundred in World War I, mister.”

Rodger danced around her. “Let me assist.”

She pointed to a room down the hall as Adele was wheeled into the delivery room. “Wait there.”

Rodger’s heart thumped erratically inside his chest. “I have to be with her.”

“You’re not a doctor.” The woman stepped toward the basin and began lathering her hands.

Rodger followed her, pressing his advantage. “I’ve just come from a tour of duty at the hospital at Bose. You can check with the head nurse there.” He stood in front of her so that she could not enter the other room. Adele’s pants and groans echoed in the next room.

The head nurse whirled around and whispered savagely, “Scrub up!”

As he had seen the nurse do, he lathered with the soap and dried his hands. He turned as a young nurse tugged on his sleeve so that she could slip the gloves onto his hands. Stabbing pains shot through his injured shoulder as he slid his arms into a gown the nurse held for him. Nurses moved as if in patterns, knowing what they were about.

“Rodger! Rod-ger!” Adele cried out.

Rodger surveyed the room, allowing his gaze to lock with the eyes of the head nurse. He nodded briskly at her, then walked over and stood by the head of Adele’s bed, not daring to touch her. Her face was bathed in sweat and tears.

Rodger bent over her. “It’s all right, honey,” he soothed over and over.

“Goddamn it, Rodger! Adele swore, “It’s not all right!”

“What can I do?” He mopped her forehead with a towel given to him by a nurse. The head nurse, bowed over Adele’s draped legs, spoke calmly, evenly.

“You’re doing fine. The baby’s in a good position. Try to breathe with the pains and push only when I tell you.” She shot Rodger a hostile look. “You stay there.”

Adele focused on the head nurse and breathed jaggedly in and out, timing each breath to the pains. She no longer looked at Rodger. She pushed, exhaling a loud groan.

He suddenly felt stranded in this roomful of women. As he caught their reflections in the mirror above the table, he thought of the first time he met Adele.

To relieve some of the boredom during intermittent flights, Rodger would meet the RAF Bristol Bombay transport when it arrived and help the crew unload. The Sunday flight usually came in late afternoon, and there would be a party of sorts for the overnight crew with ample supplies of beer and hard liquor.

At the deafening sounds of the incoming plane, Rodger had gazed skyward and marveled at the monster’s dexterity as the four‑engine bomber came effortlessly gliding down for a perfect mid‑field landing. He saluted the unseen captain.

He had continued watching as the magnificent bird taxied into the revetment. Then, squinting hard, his breath had come more quickly as he became aware of the emerging backside of  a woman from the cockpit; absolutely no way such curves could belong to a man! No, not one but two women—-the co‑pilot was a woman, too.

Rodger wiped Adele’s forehead again. “It’s going to be all right, honey. It’ll be over soon,” he consoled.

The irony of it! he thought. He hadn’t wanted anything to do with her as pilot of a transport. Or with any of the British Air Transport Auxiliary, or their women pilots trained to ferry transports and the like around the country. Women had no business operating machines and learning the technical skills it took to fly. While Rodger conceded they might be capable, they could hardly be reliable. Not that they could help being that way, simply because they were subject to hormones the way a man was not. Rodger found it foolish and dangerous to all concerned to have women in the air over enemy territory. She surely had proven him wrong. She had been rightly confident of herself and her crew, never losing a plane or any one of her crew.
“Rodger, the baby...,” Adele dug her fingers into his arm.

He gripped her hand, lacing his fingers into hers. At least she hadn’t outranked him.

Rodger smiled down at Adele. She eased her head back and sighed. “I’m glad I didn’t let you get away,” he whispered.

He had, at the last minute, invited her out to dinner. They had spent the better part of the night discussing airplanes. She really knew her stuff.

“Oh! The baby’s coming!” she cried out in pain, laughing at the same time.

Rodger tensed. A wave of nausea hit him.

“Oh, God, please!” he breathed. “Please don’t take this one from me.”

The room became deathly silent. Rodger’s head lightened for a moment. He exhaled. He turned and looked at the mirror. As the baby’s head became visible, he edged to the end of the table.

The bloody hands of the nurse grasped the baby’s head. She whispered to the nurse beside her. Rodger caught her last words: “....cord is around the neck. Clamp it!”

Rodger’s heart contracted. He stood elbow to elbow with the head nurse as she eased the tiny body out. It slid out, blood-streaked and blue.

Adele called to him, a note of alarm in her voice. “Is the baby all right?”

He couldn’t move. The ugly beast of terror rose in his chest, choking him. A nurse cut the umbilical cord, whisked the baby away to the far side of the room. Two white forms loomed over the baby, hands ministering it, blocking his view.

Rodger heard the head nurse softly talking to Adele. He shifted his body so that he could turn his head over his right shoulder and look from Adele to the nurse.

“You’ve got a baby girl. Now give me a big push for the placenta. That’s it,” she encouraged Adele. “It’s better this way, no anesthetics. You’ll recover faster.”

Adele’s face contorted. As she relaxed, her features softened as she beamed up at Rodger. Rodger drew a mask over his face, flattening out his fear. But he dared not trust his voice.

A petite woman stepped briskly up to the head nurse, one hand cupped under the baby’s head, the other beneath the tiny butt. The mouth moved, twisting like a newborn bird’s. Rodger gasped. His eyes suddenly filled with tears. He forced himself not to blink, until the stinging went away. He looked up into the boring eyes of the head nurse. And smiled. She held her gloved hands, oozing with strings of thick blood, in front of her, and pointed to Rodger with an elbow.

“Give the new father his baby daughter.”

Rodger opened his mouth to protest, but no sound came out. The nurse turned and thrust the baby into his arms.

He froze. Bloody mucus dripped onto his gown. Little arms and legs churned. Her face puckered. She squawked. The cries grew louder and louder, a crescendo in a room of smiling women.

“Oh, damn,” murmured Rodger.

Adele laughingly scolded him. “That’s no way to welcome your daughter, Rodger.”

With careful steps, he walked to Adele and placed the baby girl into her outstretched hands.
“Did you count her toes?”

Rodger numbly shook his head. Watching Adele as she cradled her baby, cooing to her, he thought the room began to undulate. He sucked in air, carefully releasing it. His body began to tingle and warm. He reached out to touch the wrinkled head of his baby.

“Isn’t she beautiful?” Adele looked up, awed.

Rodger stroked the baby’s forehead. “Yes. Did you count her toes?”

Adele’s deep, throaty laughter pealed throughout the room.

A nurse swooped down and carried the baby off, talking over her shoulder. “I’ll bring her to you later, all cleaned up. My, isn’t she pretty!”

The head nurse brushed past Rodger. “You can come with me.”

Rodger followed her into a room where he, too, took off the gown, and snapped each glove from his hands. His pants were splattered with blood. He waited until the nurse was leaving before he spoke.
“Should I wait here, or come back later?”

The woman’s face cracked into a broad smile. “Come back at six. Give your wife a rest.”

“Hey! Thanks!” Rodger went to shake her hand, but overcome by a sudden shyness, dropped his arms to his side, then shrugged his shoulders. He heaved a sigh. “Doc Adams thought she might not be born alive.”

The nurse leaned close enough she could have kissed him on the cheek. “You’re welcome. Congratulations. She’s a healthy, little girl.”

Rodger walked to the car in a daze. He propped himself against the warm metal of the car door, crossed his arms over his chest, and just stood watching the traffic. He saw Ada, Kyle, and his mother getting out of the Chevy in the parking lot. He could talk to them later. He knew he had to get out of here unseen by family or he wouldn’t have another chance to be alone for a while. And he had something he had to say to his dad. He got into the car and, taking the side road, drove to the cemetery.

He sat for a long while in the car, staring at the walnut tree that shaded his father’s grave. He reached for his coat, heaped in the corner of the back seat, and fumbled in the pockets until he collected the boxes of medals. He laid them out on the front seat, fingering the outlines. Then he gathered them all, got out of the car to make his way to his father’s plot.

He knelt beside the soft, overturned dirt at the head of the grave, set aside the medals and dug into the moist earth with his hands. Deeper he dug, his tears streaming unchecked down his face. He dug, ignoring his shoulder afire with prickling pains. He scraped his finger and the blood ran and streaked the brown earth, but he dug, flinging the dirt to one side. He bored deeper. When the hole was deep enough, wide enough, he stopped. Sitting back upon his heels, he wiped his muddied hands upon his pants. He threw in the boxes of medals and clattering, they piled upon themselves. Then he pushed the dirt over and tamped it down.

It was done.

He stood up, running his sleeve across his face, drying the tears.

“Those belonged to you, Dad,” he said aloud.
Rooting for keys in his pocket, he pulled out the bead Mary Elizabeth had given him. He chewed on his lip, looking at it for a long time. He played it in circles in the palm of his hand, thinking of his newborn daughter. Perhaps he’d stop at the jewelry store and find a gold chain for the bead. He’d give it to his daughter on her twelfth birthday.

He put the bead safely back into his pocket then unlocked the trunk and dumped the clothes out of his knapsack. Mary Elizabeth’s doll flopped out onto the pile of clothing. Rodger scooped it up, slammed the trunk down, and walked back to the grave.

At the head of the grave he channeled the soft ground until he had a large hole. He held the doll with its smudged face and sightless eyes in the palm of his hand. Folding the limp arms across the midriff, he laid her down in the grave, packing the earth around her.

A birth for a death, he thought. It’s all a game of balance.

With deliberate steps, he walked back to the car and slid onto the hot seat then hurriedly cranked the window down for some air. He turned over the engine, welcoming the vibrations as the car moved ahead. He leaned out the window, searching the bright, sunlit sky, gave thumbs up, and shouted heavenward, “She made it!”

Then, putting on his sunglasses and edging the car forward, he whispered, “Thank God.”

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Survive the Holidays with Bullying Relatives

7 Holiday Survival Tips for Dealing with “Challenging” Relatives
by Susan Call, inspirational speaker and author

Can you feel it? There’s been a palpable change in the air…it’s almost as though you can tangibly feel the holiday excitement.  With growing to-do lists, and plans still taking shape, it takes conscious effort not to get swept in the frenzy of holiday stress.  And, if you are like most people you may feel that regardless of the amount of time you put into your holiday preparations, there is one thing that can derail your holiday celebrations… family. Regardless of how easily our families get along, sometimes different personalities get the best of us making the holidays feel unpredictable and stressful.

Maybe you too can recognize a few of these relatives?
  • One-upper – The one-uppers seem compelled to top any and all stories they hear. They are quick to share their story that is a “one better” to whatever anyone else shares.  When Aunt Martha shares that she finally made it to that Broadway show she’s wanted to go to, the one-upper quickly shares that they not only went to the same play, but they had front row seats and a back stage tour.
  •  It’s all about me – Every roads lead to the “all about me” relatives. What ever topic you bring up, seemingly with in seconds, they’ve hijacked your story and are telling one of their own that likely has nothing to do with the original story.
  • The Gossip – Unlike the “it’s all about me” relatives, with these family members, it’s all about everyone else. They long to share everyone else’s news whether it’s appropriate or not.
  • The boundary-less – Your business is their business, whether you want them in the middle of it or not. They will pry. They will push. They will diligently insert themselves.
You can’t change your family, so what can you do?

Read the entire article on Susan's website>>

Susan Call is an inspirational speaker and author of A Search for Purple Cows, grand prize winner of Inspiring Voices Book Publishing Content.

Her memoir is an inspiring story of forgiveness and redemption after betrayal and abuse.

Find A Search for Purple Cows on Amazon>>

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Forcing the Hand of God: Chapter 18 (part 1)

The tires squealed as Rodger turned the corner into the cemetery. The sign on the opened gate read: hours: 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

The weather had turned ungodly hot and humid. His own sweat made him itch and want to be anywhere else. He parked the car and loosened the top button of his shirt, then discarded the tie. He climbed out of the car, leaned against the door, and scanned the rows of grave sites, neat and orderly. As a boy, he had played hide and seek on summer nights amongst the tombstones and over the graves of long-dead relatives. Never had found any ghosts.

Rodger walked to the far side, to where Sam’s grave lay. A few flowers, blue forget‑me‑nots, dotted the site. Grass had begun to fill in the outline. He bowed his head, his mind a curious blank.

He tried to find reasons, tried to think that in the unknown mind of God there might be an answer. But it was all too much, all so little.

Rodger backed away and turned on his heel, reading each marker as he moved slowly eastward. He stopped beneath the boughs of a huge, sprawling trunk with peeling bark. Ada had said underneath the walnut tree. There it was, a fresh mound of dirt dotted with red and white carnations with no head stone yet. Beside the newly dug earth of his father’s grave, lay a grassy strip that would be his mother’s grave some day. He wondered if his mother had ever looked into his father’s eyes and fallen in love with him. Or maybe his father had felt like a schoolboy, too, once. Maybe. Could have been.
Rodger picked at his bandage, trying to ease the discomfort. He worked his fingers underneath the adhesive and worked loose the edges. He brushed away beads of perspiration on his lip, swatted at flies.

“Well, damn, Dad.” He focused on the spray of carnations at the top of the grave. He could see his dad’s face so clearly in his mind’s eye and felt some essence of his dad lingered.

“I remember you taking out your railroad watch every night at 9:15 to check the Night Express comin’ through. Every night.” Rodger played with a piece of tape between his fingers. “You’d get the most god‑awful longing on your face.” He flicked the sticky ball away. “I felt for you. Every goddamn night. I wish I could ask you if you did it for us, left the railroad for a safer life.”

Rodger watched a mockingbird dance along a branch of the walnut tree. He spat. The bird took flight.
“I’m going to be a father, but the baby might not live. I’ve had so many people I’ve cared about die that I thought I couldn’t care very much anymore. But I do.”

“The more I know, the less I know.” He backed a step away from the grave. “About you. Me.”
Rodger clenched his fists, staring fixedly at where the headstone should be.

“I can’t play it safe, not even for Adele.” He squatted down on his heels. “I gotta fly. That I know. And I’ll be damned if anyone will ever tell me I can’t.”

He stood as if to leave, but found he could not.

“It’s a rotten deal. You’re gone just as I had a chance to know who the hell you were.”

His throat tightened, aching as much as his shoulder. A bird’s shriek made him start. He searched the grounds until he spied the offending male calling for his mate.

“See, he just builds her a nest and stays for a little while. That’s the nature of the beast.”

Rodger unclenched his fists and focused on his palms.

“I never forgave you for not telling me what was important. I felt I walked along a dark road all alone. Big Red, Dee, and all my dreams up in smoke. You never said a word. You could have, you know. But,” he stared intently down at the ground in front of him, “it was better this way. The way I learned. My own way.”

He suddenly felt drained of all the bitterness and fatigue of the last weeks. He turned and walked back to the car. Sitting at the wheel, he unbuttoned his shirt and removed it. With quick jerks, he stripped the tape off, burning his skin, then wadded the sullied and frayed tape into a huge ball and tossed it in the back seat of the car. He put his shirt back on, buttoned it, got out of the car and stood inside the door so that he could unzip his pants and tuck his shirt in properly. Finished, he tilted his head all the way back to look up into the tree, searching for movement.

There was no breeze to ruffle the leaves, only sunlight reflecting through the branches, throwing shadows and light. The glare of the sun made him blink. He strained his eyes to see the outlines of bark and leaf.

After a moment, he rested his chin on his chest and rotated his shoulders. He climbed back into the car and headed for Ada’s house.

He parked his mother’s car on the street between her house and Ada’s, then quietly shut the car door. Long strides brought him up the walk to the porch. He jumped from the bottom step onto Ada’s porch, just as he had always done as a kid. He opened the unlocked screen and, leaning against the door, held onto it as it swung him into the house.

“Ada! It’s Rodger!”

He heard Ada’s voice, soft and cajoling. Then he saw a kitten bounding down the hall. Spying him, the kitten sprang straight up in the air, then bounced over to him. Ada appeared in the doorway.
“Rodger! I thought I heard you!” She rushed across the room to hug him.

Rodger pointed to the black, fuzzy creature. “What is that?”

“You’ve never seen a kitten?” Ada asked innocently. “Meet The Kid.” She blushed. “He reminds me a lot of you.”

“I hate cats.” Rodger patted Ada’s cheek, then made a face at the kitten.

Ada swept up the kitten in her hand. The Kid turned and started biting and swatting at her fingers.
“Make yourself comfortable.”

Rodger sat down on the bluish-green sofa, bent over and unlaced his shoes, using first one foot, then the other to push off a shoe. He stretched out on the couch, covering his eyes with his right arm.

“I stopped by Dad’s grave.” He peeked between his arms to see the kitten claw at the lace doily over the fraying material of the green chair that Ada sat in next to him. “Sam’s, too.”

Ada restrained the kitten with both hands, putting him in her lap. She stroked his head and calmed him as she spoke.

“Most everybody in town showed up for your dad’s funeral. Fred Hewling closed his business for the day.”

Rodger could remember lying here listening to the radio as a kid. Sometimes, after he’d put out the garbage cans for Ada, they’d make popcorn, then sit on the couch and listen to The Shadow and munch handfuls of popcorn together. Many times they would say very little all night, just be with each other.

“Uncle Kyle told me about Dad. The Army. The medals.” He dropped his arm, but did not look at Ada, his gaze riveted on the ceiling. “Secrets. All these years.”

Ada watched him. She put the kitten down, shooing him away. “It wasn’t meant to be like that. Your father wanted you to make your own way, not try to live up to some glamorous image.”

“He was right. I didn’t have a glamorous image to live up to.”

“He gave you wings, Rodger. Don’t deny him that,” Ada shot back.

Rodger sat up. “I don’t know what you mean.” He rubbed his temples.

“John gave you your independence. Sam never would have let you near Lucy if it hadn’t been for your father.”

The words bit into him. Ada spoke calmly but with fierceness Rodger had never heard in her voice before. He didn’t like the change in her. He couldn’t argue with her.

“Rodger,” she softened, “don’t you understand? He loved you so much he wanted you to be the best, do the best, and have the best he could give you. Not be a reflection of him. He fought your mother over so many issues that concerned you and boxing and just about everything!” Ada suddenly angered. “And what right do you have to judge him?”

Taken aback, Rodger stammered, “I...don’t really. It’s just…that…I don’t understand.” He stared directly into Ada’s eyes. “Or maybe I do. Beginning to.”

Ada stood then moved to sit down next to Rodger, placing a hand on his. “I understand how you feel. I do. But somehow,” she hesitated, patting his hand absently, “we’ve got to bury our childhood. It becomes like a thin veil that stops us from seeing clearly.”

“I get your point. I’m trying to see through that veil.”

He sat up abruptly. “Dr. Adams thinks there may be complications.”

Ada shivered. With a catch in her voice, she asked, “What did he say?”

“Stillborn. Normal labor.” Rodger willed his headache away. “Adele doesn’t know.”

“It’s not a sure thing, Rodger. Dr. Adams couldn’t know for sure.”

“No, he said maybe.”

“Then we’ve got hope.”

“That’s about all, Ada.”

“No, Rodger.” She leaned close to him, touching his good shoulder. “I know it seems like you’ve lost a lot. You have.” She gave his shoulder a gentle squeeze. “But, with faith, we go on living. And there will be happy days for us. You. Adele. Me.” She gestured to the house next door. “All of us.”

A moment of strained silence hung over them. Rodger went to the radio and turned it on. The announcer blared, “A train wreck, southside of Chicago, just a mile out of the Williams Station, derailed. Several people injured. Doctors from surrounding areas called to aid the victims, many women, children and soldiers.”

Ada frowned, clucking in dismay. “That’ll put our hospital staff short. And already, with the younger ones enlisted, there is only the nursing staff to handle all of it. Luckily,” Ada sighed, “our town has very few crises.”

Rodger sat again on the couch, looking sharply at Ada’s face. So many changes in her, yet, really, she remained much the same. Except for moving a little slower, Rodger thought, she hadn’t changed.
With an annoyed wave at the radio, Rodger snipped, “The train wreck will be the talk of the town. Every little thing is something to sit and discuss for hours.”

“I can imagine it’s not what you’re used to.” Ada got up and turned the radio off.

Rodger swiveled to look out the window. “Saw a lot of dying, Ada. It’s part of the job. Every day counts.”

The front door to his mother’s house suddenly opened and out rocketed Rachel, headed straight for Ada’s house. Breathless, she charged into the living room, passed Ada at the door, and stood before Rodger. Rodger braced himself, ordering his thoughts as Rachel gasped and heaved out unintelligible words. The kitten hid beneath a chair, mewing. Rodger sneered at it, wanting it to go away.

Rachel waved frantically at the house. “The hospital!”

Rodger nodded, perplexed. “Yeah, we heard it on the radio.”

Ada spoke, her voice low and reassuring. “It’s all right, honey. There will be doctors and nurses to take care of the people.”

Rachel scowled at them, shaking her head and gasping, “Come on...Adele.”

Rodger gently held Rachel by the shoulders. “Adele? In labor?”

Rachel nodded.

Ada muttered, “Oh, my God,” as she hurried out the door.

Rodger hugged Rachel quickly. “Don’t be scared, Tagalong. Everything’s going to be all right.” He squatted and gathered his shoes, sitting on the edge of the couch to hurriedly put them on. He stood and held his hand out to Rachel.

“Let’s go see what’s happening.”

She latched onto to his hand, looking up with frightened eyes. Rodger guided her out the door with the kitten following.

“Stay here,” he ordered, kicking at it.

Rodger fished in his pants pocket for the keys to his mother’s car. Ada and Kyle were struggling with Adele down the steps. Rodger hurried to move the car from the curbside to the driveway. Leaving the engine running, he scooted across the seat and flung the door open. Kyle lowered Adele into the seat, into Rodger’s hands. She groaned.

“How far apart are the pains?” Rodger looked at his watch.

“Four, five minutes.”

Kyle poked his head inside. “I can drive.”

“No, thanks,” Rodger slid back to the steering wheel, releasing the brake. “I’ll get us there.” Kyle gave a sharp wave of his hand.

Out of the corner of his eye, Rodger studied Adele’s face. Sweat trickled down her forehead and temples. Her eyes were screwed shut, her nose puckered, and her lips stretched taut against her white teeth.

Rodger let go of the steering wheel with his right hand, to give a reassuring pat to Adele’s arm.
“Hang on, kid, we’ll be there in a jiff.”

“Rodger ... I ... can’t,” Adele cried out.

“Yes, you can.” Rodger swerved to miss a careless dog. He ran a stop sign. “Look! There’s the hospital!”

Adele whimpered. Once again, her swollen body lurched and shuddered. Her damp dress clung to her. Raindrops of sweat dripped from the ends of her hair.

“Wait here!”

Rodger sprinted to the front doors of the hospital. Nurses and orderlies crisscrossed the halls. Rodger grabbed a nurse by the arm.

“My wife’s having a baby!” He jabbed at the air, toward the car behind him, as she pushed away from him.

Irritated, the nurse pointed to the desk. “The receptionist will help you.”

Rodger rushed to the desk. “My wife! She’s having a baby!”

“Last name?” The woman pulled out a sheet of paper and began writing.

“Brown. Listen, she’s in the car and—”


Rodger slammed his fist down. “Goddamn it! She’s having the baby in the car!”

The woman looked up in alarm, throwing her hands up. The pen she had been writing with arced across Rodger’s nose as she sprang to her feet.

“Wheelchair!” she barked.

Feet scurried. An orderly whizzed past. Rodger, on the run to the car, was unexpectedly joined by two more people.

Hands, swift and efficient, lifted Adele from the front seat and into the wheelchair. She panted and moaned, her body heaving in great spasms. Rodger watched helplessly as they wheeled her through the doors and down the long corridor to the delivery room. He dashed to catch up to Adele, turning to face her as he danced on his toes in a backward shuffle until they came to a stop before the delivery room doors.