December 16 2009

Children of Fate by A.J. Angerstein

winter, early 1950's . Lyons, Texas

With tear filled eyes, Dorrie stared at the bare light bulb dangling from the ceiling. Please hurry Rosa, she said to herself. God, please hurry. She clutched her stomach as another wave of pain hit. This was not one of her regular bellyaches; the baby was being born early. As she closed her eyes, the memory of the recent beating she had endured flooded her mind. Ashe had stopped at the bar after work and was drunk as usual when he got home. It was his early off day and she figured he had been drinking since about noon. When he came in she was asleep. Being on maternity leave from the hospital where she worked had created more problems than it was worth. Ashe expected her to work every second of the day around the house. He wanted it spic and span and with a hot meal on the table when he got home. Too often that mealtime included most of his family. That was what the argument had been about. She was tired of cooking for Ashe’s brothers and sisters, and no one even offering to help with the dishes. She was also worried about their food budget. No one ever brought anything to add to the meal. They would bring lots of beer, though. Hell, cheap beer was considered a meal in itself.
Dorrie felt herself hurling into darkness, but a distant sound of a car door slamming brought her back to reality. Rosa finally had arrived. Dorrie tried to get up from the couch, but didn't have enough control over her legs to make it. She was face down, unable to move, when her friend rushed through the door.
As Rosa approached Dorrie, she gasped in horror. That idiot Ashe had outdone himself this time. Rosa called for the taxi driver to come help her. As he entered the house, he looked at the woman lying on the couch.
"Look, lady", the anxious driver said, “I think we oughta call the cops and get her an ambulance. She looks in purty bad shape to me." The taxi driver knew his boss was a real stickler when it came to situations like this. What if the woman died in his cab?
Rosa had draped one of Dorrie’s arms around her shoulder and was struggling to get her off the couch. "No,” she replied breathlessly, “that would just make matters worse. “Please, just help me get her up and to the hospital. It's only a few blocks and I will make it worth your while to keep quiet."
Dorrie looked up at the man. "Please", she pleaded, "I don't want to have my baby here.”
The man gathered Dorrie up in his arms and carried her to the cab. As he put her in the backseat, he looked at her again and shook his head. "I hope your old man don't show up, otherwise I'll just have to kill the bastard." That said, he followed Rosa's instructions about where to park at the hospital. She had alerted the two nurses on duty that Dorrie was coming in. They knew what to do and Rosa knew she could count on them to keep quiet. She had gotten permission to be the only attendant at the birth of the child, even though she was fairly new at being a midwife.
For the next four hours Rosa guided Dorrie through the difficult childbirth. Despite her extra training, a couple of times she had thought about calling in the doctor, but Dorrie was adamant. She only wanted Rosa there unless absolutely necessary.
Finally Dorrie delivered a baby girl who weighed barely six pounds. She was oddly quiet at first, but Rosa soon got her breathing on her own and crying weakly. Both mother and baby had made it all right, but not without consequences. Rosa knew the bruises would heal, and so would the black eyes, but what about the mental bruises? They took much longer to mend than the physical ones.
“Dorrie, honey,” Rosa said encouragingly, “everything will be fine. Only you and I will ever know the truth about today. Well, except for Eddie, but he won't tell nobody; he loves ya as much as I do. You have a beautiful baby girl now; don’t worry no more. The bad memories will fade in time.”
Dorrie knew that Rosa was right. She did have a beautiful baby girl. But Ashe had wanted a boy. He’d probably beat the hell out of her again when he got her home. Well, it was too late now. She had given birth to a girl. A girl. And to top it off, the baby even had a black eye. Dorrie again remembered with tears, the beating Ashe had given her that broke her water and caused labor to begin three weeks before her due date, and she feared that the baby had been injured. As she drifted off to sleep she thanked God that Rosa had secured an empty room near the side entrance. She needed it to be as far from the nurses’ station as possible. If Ashe came in tormenting everyone, she could possibly get Dorrie and the child out before he found them. None of the other nurses questioned it; they knew that Ashe Redmond was mean, and that Dorrie was coming in. Rosa also didn’t want the nursing staff to know more than they absolutely had to. That way none of them would have to lie if Ashe came around and demanded to know what was going on. She knew she didn’t really have to worry about the other nurses, but it was better this way. They all had wanted to kill Ashe at one time or another for the many times Dorrie had been treated secretly because of the beatings he inflicted. They also knew that most likely he’d been flaming drunk as usual when he beat up Dorrie. None of them understood why she stayed with him, but figured it was out of pure fright. It was amazing how many women would stay with a man who was abusive just because they were scared. Rosa had also called her husband Eddie from Dorrie's house, and he was waiting in the side parking lot in case he was needed to help if Ashe showed up. As it was near shift change, if anyone questioned his being there he could say he was waiting for his wife to get off work.
Thank God, Rosa thought, something is going right for a change. Dorrie was such a good nurse, but was always tired. Now, thanks to a sedative, she finally slept. Rosa watched her descend into sleep and then took the child out to the nursery. As she left the room, she saw Ashe coming down the hall toward her. “Oh Lord,” she thought, “here comes the devil himself."
Ashe walked up and said he wanted to see Dorrie. Rosa answered defiantly, “Later Ashe. First, you need to meet your daughter, Jennah." She backed up a couple of steps expecting some kind of outburst but Ashe’s hands actually trembled as he took his new daughter into his arms. He drew her closer, looked intently into her eyes, and smiled--the beguiling smile that made women forget who he was. Rosa knew it was that smile that had buffaloed so many women. It certainly had its effect on Dorrie.
“Well ain't she the purtiest baby you ever saw?” he crowed. “Yes ma’am, she’s gonna be one tough little cookie. Bet she’ll be a fighter too. Looky here, she's already got a black eye! I promise won’t nobody ever hurt her. If they try, I’ll kill ‘em.”
Rosa looked bemused. “Ashe, that is the first time I have ever heard anything like sense come out of your mouth. Men like you, put a baby in your arms and you become a sucker. I didn’t think you had it in you to be a good daddy, but maybe I was wrong. Been wrong before but not about you. If you ever lay a hand on this child, I’ll cut your balls off myself. Now you git on out of here and go home. Come back in the morning after you’ve sobered up some. This little lady needs to be fed and cleaned up good." She already knew that he had the physical abilities to be a father, hell everyone in town knew that. It was being proved at that very moment. All she was worried about at that second was did he have the mental ability. Somehow she doubted it, even if he had been enthralled with little Jennah. As soon as Rosa took the baby to the nursery she needed to look in on Dorrie one last time. She was going to miss her dear friend, but there were other things she and her husband had to do. As she reached for the baby, she looked Ashe straight in the eyes. "I mean every word I just said Ashe, every word." But Ashe knew he didn't have much to worry about as far as Rosa and Eddie were concerned. Still he could tell by the tone of her voice that she did indeed mean it. Rosa was a wild one, just like Dorrie and the other one had been. The guys from Lyons and surrounding counties had called them the "Terrible Trio". Dorrie and the other one had been the ones to get pregnant. He wondered what had ever happened to that Susie girl. No one had seen her around for awhile. He along with all the others figured she had just gone away to have the baby, or had one of those illegal abortions. She was there one day and gone the next, so none of them ever really worried about it.
As Rosa took the baby from Ashe’s arms, his knees buckled and tears rimmed his eyes. He walked gingerly to the nearest chair and tried to regain his composure. When he felt steadier, he started toward the door, but instead turned and went to find Dorrie's room, where he found her sleeping peacefully. As he watched her sleep, Ashe was full of regrets. For the beating and for the family curse that went back as far as he could remember. The so-called curse had adopted another yet stronger bedfellow. The drink had somehow made an appearance since his parents had given birth to their eleven children. It wasn't enough that they were poor, and his mother did that all that weird stuff, now they had the alcohol eating at their souls. Perhaps with the birth of a new generation, that bedfellow along with the other things involved would somehow disappear. Perhaps Jennah would be the one who could destroy that curse.
Dorrie was the most beautiful woman Ashe had ever seen and he knew Jennah would be some day; but at this moment, she was the purtiest baby in the world and she was his. When she had curled her tiny fingers around his pinky, his heart almost leapt out of his chest. “I loved her the second I took her in my arms,” he whispered earnestly to Dorrie. “I know we can work this out, for her sake. I’ll get a job. I’ll try to stay off the bottle. I really do love you, and I am so sorry for hurting you, but I promise no one will ever lay a hand on little Jennah.” Ashe didn’t have the courage to say those words when Dorrie was awake. Probably she wouldn’t have believed him anyway. Dorrie had her own curse that Ashe couldn’t do anything about. “But you gotta quit hounding me about what happened three years ago,” he pleaded. “I wasn’t around; I had no idea what happened. Please don’t hold me responsible for what someone else did to you.” Ashe knew that Dorrie, even though she didn't want to, hated all men with a passion. He’d certainly done his part to make her feel that way. When Rosa arrived back at Dorrie's room she saw Ashe sitting silently beside the bed. The man didn't appear to be anything more than a concerned husband, but she knew differently. She turned and silently crept out. She had already said her goodbye to Dorrie and it was best to just leave things that way. She gathered up her purse and things at the nurses station and hugged the other nurses. As she left she told them to keep an eye on Dorrie, that Ashe had found her. And then she left by the back door and proceeded to the parking lot, where her husband Eddie was waiting patiently for her. As she got in the car she simply looked over at him and said, 'hit the road, sweetie, hit the road'.
Article views: 6893

Your StoryLeap Username

Your StoryLeap Password

Don't have username / password? Click here to create account

Your Comment

To avoid spam robots from submitting this form, please solve the simple math problem below


Comments from Our Readers

  "Good story, A.J. You post is "non-fiction", just curious how do you come across these stories?" - Stan, December 22 2009 - reply
  "the story is true, it is about a person i am very very close to, only the names have been changed to protect the innocent, if you have any further questions, perhaps you could do it by email " - jesse_jean57, December 23 2009 - reply


Digg Reddit StumbleUpon Facebook Google Newsvine YahooMyWeb TechnoRati