It was an idyllically beautiful evening. My lovable noisy family was “somewhere else”, gifting me with rare solitude. I sat at my antiquated computer enjoying the feral clicking sounds my nails made on the rigid plastic keyboard, only vaguely aware of the high soprano tones of an injured computer fan. The muted bingo parlor stench of stale Marlboros consumed my paneled room. This stained atmosphere grew and flourished as I chain smoked my way through several search engines. While I toyed with a mug of tepid coffee my attention drifted to an interesting Italian genealogy website.
I eagerly scanned the pages for information that would lead to the discovery of distant cousins in L’Italia. Lately, I had neglected my genealogical research. With a focused determination, I resumed my quest, reveling in my solitude. Out of this peaceful silence, I grimly noted an insistent banging at the side door. Taking a final pull on my cigarette, I slithered out of my warm chair.
The path to the door is not too lengthy but I dawdled, yearning to backtrack to my computer. The persistent knocking escalated sharply and then suddenly ceased. I selfishly hesitated to answer. Suddenly, it crossed my mind that it may be an emergency; one of my children might be hurt, or, based on the final set of hard raps, the police might be paying me a social visit. I grasped the warm brass knob disgustedly and swung the door open.
Relieved to see no one there, I began to close the door. As an afterthought, I cautiously peered outside, searching the sidewalks for motion. Halfway down the street I spied my neighbor Josephine rapidly retreating toward her house. “Josie!” I bellowed, “What do you want?”
She barely hesitated on the cracked sidewalk. “Hurry!” screamed my frantic neighbor. “She’s having a baby!”
I flew down the street after firmly slamming my door, unaware that I was sans keys to my sanctuary. Possibly a stray gave birth in her yard, I mused. After all, my friend “Ms. Neat as a Pin with New Furnishings” would never let an animal do THAT on her new carpet. Perplexed, I watched her run through her open front door, leaving it gaping. I followed closely, scrambling up immaculate wooden stairs and entering a shrine to the scents of Ajax and Clorox.
Josie neatly bypassed the scene that awaited me, and I smelled a distant odor of vomit emanating from her trail. Upon entering, my eyes were drawn to several small spatters of blood on her twill carpet. Looming above this decorative scene were three bewildered humans; Josie’s young daughter AnnaMaria, a disheveled Madonna, and a newborn babe. The air was redolent with the freshly brewed scents associated with childbirth. AnnaMaria passed me the mewling infant and I was acutely conscious of the slippery satin feel of moist downy skin on my inner arm. Trailing a springy twisted cord between us, baby and I guided the cool arm of the new mother through her fog of exhaustion and into the kitchen.
Perplexed to see no place to safely seat the new mother, I asked Josie for some newspapers and towels. Perhaps I was the most hardened woman on the Southside of Milwaukee, but I saw no earthly reason for it when she asked, “Which section?”
Resisting an impulse to ask for the birth announcements, I methodically wove a trail of newspapers on the floor and eased the new mother into a reclining position. Within an hour, Josie’s unlimited reserve of bile had decided to stay put, the baby’s father had arrived to hold mother’s hand (I still had baby), and a cheerful crew of paramedics arrived to cut the cord and whisk them away to another shrine of industrial cleansers. As I watched the slowly receding ambulance the new father yelled, “We'll name him after your youngest”.
My adrenaline diminished quietly and the rest of the neighborhood sipped beer as if they had just endured the rigors of childbirth. I vaguely heard the slushing sounds of Josie’s carpet cleaner as I speculated on how to get through my firmly locked door. It was an idyllically beautiful evening I thought as I strolled slowly down the sidewalk.
Il richiamo della foresta
copyright © 2003 Scrivi