Sandra had many questions, but I didn’t mind. Talking about it made me think it could be possible to accept it.
“How does he know Morse Code?”
“From the Merchant Marine Academy. They all had to learn it. I’ve been studying on breaks and at night. It’s not as easy as you’d think.”
“It’s a small miracle, though.”
It occurred to me that this was often how babies born to women in their forties were regarded. “A miracle?” I shook my head. “I don’t know.”
“What about diapers?”
“He has his mental faculties. We had to buy one of those training potties. He’s a little small for it, and I have to keep him propped up, but it works.”
Sandra crinkled her nose. “I think I might rather change his diaper.”
I started to cry.
She reached for my face. “Oh, hey, I’m sorry.” She wiped away a tear. “Have you tried to go see the doctor again?”
My voice cracked. “Of course I have.” I swallowed. “The building is there, but it’s not the same. There’s no doctor’s offices, only a tattoo parlor and an ice cream shop that looks like it went out of business during the Clinton administration.”
“What about the guy who recommended Dr. Lu’u in the first place?”
“I called him. He said he’d never heard of him. He didn’t even remember having the conversation with me.”
In those desperate moments, spread-eagled in stirrups from Jackson Beach to Crown Heights, I said I wanted a baby no matter what. No matter what. Those words rang in my ears as I mixed some organic formula for my husband.
He was teething. He was doing his best to remain stoic, but I could tell it was very painful.
“Let’s get something in your tummy.” I was pretty sure I hadn’t used the word tummy very often in my adult life.
I sat him on my lap and brought the bottle to his lips. He took a few sips and brought his right arm up to push it away. “C’mon, you have to be hungry.” He’d been fussy since I picked him up from day care.
The phone rang. I let the machine pick up. It was Gordon’s mother. Her calls were becoming more frequent over the past ten days, and I’d run out of excuses about why he couldn’t come to the phone. My life was all excuses.
Gordon looked in my eyes and began signaling. He said, “ITS OK.”
I shook my head.
He said, “IT WILL WORK.”
St. Joseph’s was the nearest designated safe haven. I walked through the front doors with Gordon and went to the front counter.
“I have a Baby Moses.”
The woman nodded and then picked up the phone. She spoke quietly into it. I couldn’t hear what she said. “Have a seat. Someone will be with you in a moment.
I found an empty area and sat on a couch. Gordon looked at me. He said, “I LOVE YOU.”
I stroked his little head. “I love you, too. I’m so sorry. This is all my fault.”
Gordon said, “NO.” p>A door slid open. Dr. Lu’u walked through. He went to the counter. The woman pointed to Gordon and me.
He handed me a pamphlet. “There is a questionnaire on the last page. Please fill it out and drop it in any mailbox. The postage is paid. It details baby’s medical history.” He reached for Gordon with both arms.
I passed my husband to him. I did it fast. Ripped it off like a Band-Aid. “I need a place to go. I can’t stay here. Is Muncie nice this time of year?”
Dr. Lu’u looked confused. “I’m sorry?”
“Muncie? Indiana? Where you’re from.”
He shook his head and furrowed his brow. “You must have me confused with someone else.”
I looked at Gordon. He said, “ITS OK.”
“You don’t remember me? From your office? You told me you were born in Kang Sao Dau.”
“Again, I’m sorry. My family is from Khong Ke.”
Gordon began to cry.
Dr. Lu’u took a step away. “It’s best we take baby into the hospital now.”
Gordon said, “DONT LOK BAK.”
I said, “David Letterman?”
“I really must go.” He looked at Gordon. “Would you like to say goodbye?”
Gordon said, “NO DONT LOK BAK.”
I shook my head meekly. “I already have.”
I gave all the baby stuff to Sandra, whose cousin was expecting. I tried my best to explain to her what happened and why, but I could sense her judging me. Anyone would, I suppose. I don’t blame her. I wasn’t angry.
Muncie is alright, I guess. It’s nice and quiet in the summer, once most of the students have gone. I work, I eat, I sleep.
I watch David Letterman.