Day of the Port o Potties
Charles W. Harvey
The heat hung over Wednesday like the open mouth of a furnace. The wind picked up dust and stung our eyes until they were red and teary. I looked over at her. She sat next to me with her hands folded in her lap. One fist was coiled around pink flowered baby booties. She was quiet and stared out the side window keeping her eyes away from the sun’s rays glowering off the hood of the convertible. From the back of the car, the cradle knocked gently against her seat as I drove down St. John’s Boulevard away from the hospital. From my rearview mirror, the hospital rose like a tower going higher and higher toward baby shaped clouds.
I put on a jazz station, the one that was most commercial free. I didn’t want anything to remind us, especially Maureen. The soft thump of trumpets kept time to my heart. My mouth opened for a moment, but nothing came out. Then there was Stevie Wonder singing, “Isn’t she lovely isn’t she beautiful,” as a giggling baby splashed in the water in the song’s background. I reached over and hit the off button on the radio. Maureen looked at me.
“Don’t patronize me..” She turned and continued to stare out the window.
I swallowed as quietly as I could. “It was not my idea,” I thought to myself. I always get the blame when Maureen’s ideas go bad. When she wanted to sell the old house and we lost money; when she thought to take in an elderly arthritic woman and coax her into making quilts; and now the baby.
I drove in a daze, in silence, suppressing sighs. I didn’t see the truck until it was almost too late. A long truck with green and white port o potties bouncing on its back was backing rapidly toward our car. I slammed on the brakes and everything lurched forward. Maureen and I bowed toward the windshield. The cradle in the back seat came up as if the wind had lifted it. It struck Maureen in the back of the head. She grabbed her head and screamed. In motions that ran together she reached around and grabbed the cradle and unsnapped her seat belt. Out of the car she marched flat footed toward the port of potties. She held her hand behind her and with all the strength she could force through her thin arm, Maureen hurled the cradle over her head and into the back of the truck. It wedged between the port o potties. The truck driver eased forward unaware of anything and drove off. Maureen stared after the truck. Her body heaved and jerked.
I got out of the car. I walked toward Maureen with my arms opened and outstretched.
“It’s not ok. I will never be ok,” Maureen screamed.
Cars around us honked like geese as I led Maureen back to our blue blue car.