Did you miss part one?
From Bundle of Trouble
Chapter One (Continued)
Jim expertly navigated the San Francisco streets as we made our way to California Pacific Hospital. Even as the contractions grew stronger, I couldn’t stop thinking about George.
Jim’s parents had died when he was starting college. George, his only brother, had merely been fourteen, still in high school. Their Uncle Roger had taken George in. George had lived rent-free for many years, too many years, never caring to get a job or make a living.
Jim and I often wondered if so much coddling had incapacitated George to the point that he couldn’t, or wouldn’t, stand on his own two feet. He was thirty-three now and always had an excuse for not holding a job. Apparently, everyone was out to get him, take advantage of him, “screw” him somehow. At least that’s the story we’d heard countless times.
The only thing George had going for him was his incredible charm. Although he was a total loser, you’d never know it to talk to him. He could converse with the best of them, disarming everyone with his piercing green eyes.
Uncle Roger had finally evicted George six months ago. There had been an unpleasant incident. Roger had been vague about it, only telling us that the sheriff had to physically remove George from his house. As far as we knew, George had been staying with friends since then.
I glanced at Jim. His face was unreadable, the excitement of the pending birth diluted by the phone call we had received.
I touched Jim’s leg. “Just because his bags were found at the pier doesn’t mean it’s him.”
“I mean, what did the guy say? The body was badly decomposed, right? How long would bags sit on a pier in San Francisco? Overnight?”
“Hard to say,” he muttered.
I rubbed his leg trying to reassure him. “I can’t believe any bag would last more than a couple days, max, before a transient, a kid, or someone else would swipe it.”
Jim shrugged and looked grim.
A transient? Why had the medical examiner asked that? George had always lived on the fringe, but homeless?
Please God, don’t let the baby be born on the same day we get bad news about George.
Bad news—what an understatement. How could this happen? I closed my eyes and said a quick prayer for George, Jim, and our baby.
I dug my to-do list out from the bottom of the hospital bag.
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To Do (When Labor Starts):
- Call Mom.
- Remember to breathe.
- Practice yoga.
- Time contractions.
- Think happy thoughts.
- Call Mom.
Oh, shoot! I’d forgotten to call Mom. I found my cell phone and pressed speed dial. No answer.
Hmmm? Nine P.M., where could she be?
I left a message on her machine and hung up.
I looked over the rest of the list and snorted. What kind of idealist had written this? Think happy thoughts? Remember to breathe?
I took a deep breath. My abdomen tightened, as though a vise were squeezing my belly. Was this only the beginning of labor? My jaw clenched as I doubled over. Jim glanced sideways at me.
He reached out for my hand. “Hang in there, honey, we’re almost at the hospital.”
The vise loosened and I felt almost normal for a moment.
I squeezed Jim’s hand. My husband, my best friend, and my rock. I had visualized this moment in my mind over and over. No matter what variation I gave it in my head, never in a million years could I have imagined the medical examiner calling us right before my going into labor and telling us what? That George was dead?
Before I could process the thought, another contraction overtook me, an undulating and rolling tightening, causing me to grip both my belly and Jim’s hand.
When my best friend, Paula, had given birth, she was surrounded mostly by women. Me, her mother, her sister, and of course, her husband, David. All the women were supportive and whispered words of encouragement while David huddled in the corner of the room, watching TV. When Paula told him she needed him, he’d put the TV on mute.
When I’d recounted the story for Jim, he’d laughed and said, “Oh, honey, David can be kind of a dunce. He doesn’t know what to do.”
Another vise grip brought me back to the present. Could I do this without drugs? I held my breath. Urgh! Remember to breathe.
I crumpled the to-do list in my hand.
Bring on the drugs.
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