Come on, come on, I thought. Push against me. Give it to me.
I looked over at Meg.
She pulled a shoulder to her ear, quizzically, and looked back to Shelby. Shelby sucked hard on Meg’s tit.
Shelby was so close.
“I’m right here, baby,” I whispered. “Come on.”
Shelby’s eyes were squeezed tight. I held her wrists against the bed. My cock was deep in her. I pressed my pubis firm against hers.
Meg squeezed her hand.
It was all in place.
Everything was as it should be.
Doctor Connors knew all the signs.
“Come on, Alice, push! Push!”
He rested his wrinkled hand on her smooth, damp brow.
She looked up at him, breathing heavily.
“It . . . it really hurts,” Alice gasped.
“It’s supposed to hurt,” Doctor Connors smiled. “The pain precedes the blessing. You’re going to be a mama, just like your mama, sugar. But you need to push that baby now.”
Alice nodded. She looked up at the nurse. She has red hair, Alice thought, just like Frank.
Alice reached for the nurse. The nurse took her hand for a moment, then withdrew it to remove rubber gloves. She wiped her hands on a paper towel, tossing it into an open canister near the sink.
She removed a stethoscope from her neck and held it to Alice’s distended abdomen.
“Four inches, doctor.”
“That’s good, Alice, good!” Doctor Connors smiled, adjusting his glasses. “It won’t be long now.”
“Thanks . . . Doctor . . . Connors . . . . sir.” Alice tried to smile.
“Shh, shh. You just relax, sugar. You’re going to be fine.”
“It’s going to be fine, Sammy.”
Alice’s mother looked down at the cigarette in her fingers.
“She’s with Doctor Connors. It will be fine.”
Frank crouched down and looked up at his mother in law. “Sammy?”
She rested a hand on his shoulder and drew another puff on her Camel. She looked down the hallway as she exhaled.
“You are a blessing, baby, you are,” she began. She tapped her heel nervously. “I just wish Jefferson was here . . .”
“Shh, Connie, he is here, he is,” Sammy’s sister whispered, her arm reaching around her shoulder. “And he’s right down that hallway too, giving his love to Alice. Your baby isn’t alone.”
Sammy’s heels clattered. She drew another puff on her cigarette.
Sammy turned her head and exhaled over her sister’s hand on her shoulder. She closed her eyes to avoid looking into Frank’s.
Meg tossed a cigarette off the balcony. “You want another?” She offered the pack to Shelby.
“Yeah.” Shelby shivered as she took one and lit it. “Thanks.” She exhaled. The orange tip of her smoke jabbed at the cold night air. “And thanks for your tits back there.”
Meg laughed. “No problem. Whatever works.”
“Hell yeah, me and my oral fixation.” She took another long drag on her cigarette.
“You’d think sucking Jefferson might take care of that,” Meg said.
“Yeah, you’d think,” Shelby grinned. “But sometimes, I need it all at once.” She flicked an ash. “Shit, it’s cold out here.”
“Fuck yeah, it is,” Meg said, pulling her coat closer. “January.”
“All right,” Shelby said. She took a long puff. She stamped the butt and tossed it from the balcony. “We’re going back in. Your ass is mine.”
“Oh, goody.” Meg rubbed the ashes of her cigarette on a brick before following her friend inside. “Good, good, good.”
“Good!” Doctor Connors looked up over the draped cloth. “Good work, Alice! Keep pushing!”
“Keep pushing, honey,” the nurse added. She’s brunette, thought Alice. What became of the redheaded nurse?
“One more, push hard,” Doctor Connors barked.
Alice focused on Doctor Connors’s voice. He was the only familiar person in the room. He knew how to deliver babies. He delivered me, Alice thought, gasping for air. He delivered Mom, and her Mama too. He’s done this so many times. Just do what he tells me, she told herself, and it will be fine.
Alice felt faint.
Doctor Connors looked to the nurse. “Get her pulse,” he ordered.
“Do you want me to get you anything?” Frank asked his mother in law.
She looked up. “No, baby, I’m fine.”
Her sister looked at her face, then looked to Frank. “Why don’t you get her a cup of coffee? Maybe get us all some coffee. You need some money, baby?” She reached for her purse, unclasping the top. “There’s a dollar in here, I’m sure . . .”
“No, I’m all right.” Frank stood up. “Just some coffee?”
“Yes. Well, why don’t you get twelve coffees, one for everyone.” Sammy’s sister looked around the waiting room at her parents and siblings, dozing in their chairs. “This could be a while. Oh, and some sugar and bottle of milk. You sure you don’t want that dollar? Maybe two?”
“No, I’m fine. You okay, Sammy?” Frank stood, his hand still holding his mother in law’s hand.
Sammy looked up. “No, honey, I’m all right. Thank you.”
Frank looked back as he walked down the hall.
Sammy watched him walk into the elevator.
“They are just so young,” she began, turning to her sister. “My baby and Frank . . .”
“We all were,” she heard. “And we turned out all right. At least Frank just got out of high school. He’s nineteen now. He’s a man.”
“Yes, and he has a job. That’s more than Jefferson and I had . . .” Sammy fell quiet.
Alice’s father Jefferson had seen his eighteen-year-old baby girl married, and doted as his princess’s belly swelled with his first grandchild. Then one afternoon after supper, he took to the couch saying he felt ill. He never woke from his nap.
Sammy was left to finish the job of raising their only child, and her future grandchild, alone. She was not yet forty.
“All right, we are almost there.” Doctor Connors exhorted. He reached for the baby’s shoulders. “You have to finish this job, Alice.”
The nurse held Alice’s hand.
“Almost there,” I said. I pushed the knobbed butt plug another notch.
Meg cried out.
“Come on,” Shelby encouraged, grabbing Meg’s arm. “You can do it. Or you can quit—we won’t think you are any less of a man if you can’t do it.”
Meg whimpered. “No, no . . . one more . . .”
I pushed another knob into her body.
“I’m sorry, Doctor Connors . . . it just hurts so much . . .”
“I’ve heard worse,” he coughed. “From your own mother, too. Just focus on that baby.”
“Yes sir, yes . . .” she sobbed.
“Yes, more, or yes, you give?” I asked.
“Yes. More,” Meg whispered. I lifted her head in my arms as Shelby beat her ass again.
“Good. You are taking this as well as can be expected.”
Sammy sobbed into her sister’s shoulder.
“Just don’t let Jesus take my baby,” she whimpered. “She’s all I have now.”
“Shh, shh. You have us, and we love you. And Frank is your son now. He’s gonna take care of you. No one is going anywhere.”
Doctor Connors entered the waiting room.
“Yes sir?” Frank rose, spilling coffee on the linoleum. “Oh, I’m so sorry . . . ,” he began, reaching for a napkin.
“Leave it for now,” Doctor Connors began. He looked around the room at so many expectant faces. “Come with me and meet your son, Jefferson.”
Hands clapped as cries whooped through the still dawn.
Sammy fell back into a chair. Her sister held her head and laughed.
“You come with us, Sammy.” Doctor Connors said, taking her hand. “She’s asking for you.”
Sammy sat in stunned silence.
“Oh my Lord, hallelujah, Jesus!” her sister cried.
“Oh my God, oh my God,” Meg gasped. “This pumpkin pie is incredible.”
“Feed me another bite,” I teased, opening my mouth and looking up like a newborn baby bird. “But I want the crust.”
“The crust is mine,” Meg complained, holding it aloft.
“Whoa, did you guys see the time?,” Shelby interrupted. “It’s after midnight!”
Shelby put an arm on my shoulder. “Happy birthday, baby.” She kissed my neck.
“Aw! Happy birthday, Jefferson!” Meg hugged me.
“Happy birthday, son,” Frank tapped on the window.
“He’s our Jefferson now,” Sammy teared, her arms squeezing Frank’s waist. She looked up. “Our only Jefferson now.”