He looked down at the place where he’d rubbed the fabric smooth, where
a hole was beginning. Then, weeks later when the surgeon removed the bandages and Voight could see….
Someone knocked, and Abraham stood, stiff from crouching below the window.
He winced at the sharp pain and shuffled to the door.
“All clear, Doc.” The cop was young, with movie star-white teeth.
Abraham dipped his head, muttered thanks to the officer and closed the door again, turning the lock. His car was parked behind
the clinic. He reached down, massaged his aching leg before grabbing his briefcase, and limped to the back door.
The phone chirped. He retraced his steps, reached for the beige receiver,
then recoiled. Abraham didn’t want to talk to anyone, but he couldn’t make himself leave while it was ringing.
He sat in the straight-backed wooden chair and waited. The ringing stopped, then began again. Finally, the caller let the
phone ring… three, four, five times and the answering machine picked up.
He heard the faint voice, responding to the recorded message.
“Wait. Just a moment.” Abraham reached for the receiver and knocked
a stack of papers to the floor. “Wait, I tell you. I can’t hear. The machine is too soft. Wait, and—”
The answering machine disconnected Abraham sat for a moment, staring at the
blinking light. Then he reached out and pushed “play.”
Macie watched the TV screen, fascinated, as a uniformed officer grasped the
sleeve of a woman’s red parka. Moments later, the obese protester went limp and sank to the sidewalk in front of the
clinic where Macie Stone worked. A few feet away, policeman using wire cutters tried to break the chain shackling a man to
The fanatic twisted so the camera would pick up the logo on his stained T-shirt:
“Abortion Stops A Beating Heart.” Macie’s blood ran cold as she heard his raspy-voiced chant: “Death
to death dealers.” A reporter stepped in front of the camera, adjusted his earphone, and turned to make sure the clinic
sign was visible behind him.
“This is Ron Marker, reporting from outside the Sorkin Family Clinic.
Back to you, Paula.”
The cameraman panned the line of protesters, now reduced to about a dozen,
and the picture switched to the newsroom. Macie clicked the power button and the screen went black.
The snow on the lawn intensified the glare of late winter sun coming through
the window. Bits of light danced over the cream colored walls, highlighted the dark spot on the sofa back where her husband’s
head always rested. She’d given up scrubbing it away. After ten years of its reappearing, the sofa would look bare without
“Those fanatics are well trained anyway. Did you see that fat woman?
How many cops do you think it took to drag her away?” she asked.
Her husband, Phil, pushed into the couch cushions and grinned. “At least
they’re non-violent; it could be worse. They could be like that fruitcake who sent dead mice to Doc.” He pulled
off his glasses and wiped the lens on his shirt, then fished for his coffee can footstool with his bare toes.
Macie wrinkled her nose at the detested ottoman, a long ago Father’s
Day present from his nephew. Made of cans, stuck together and wrapped in batting and brown-flowered fabric, the thing was
threadbare in places and comically misshapen. But, in Phillip’s eyes, she knew, the monstrosity was dear. Like the dark
sofa stain, the footstool was a permanent fixture.
“I’m glad they don’t know what Dr. Sorkin is really doing,”
She sat down next to her husband. “If they knew about Steve. . . ”
“Well, they don’t, so relax,” Phil said putting his arm
behind her, massaging her shoulders. He had nice hands. Big hands. Macie was small, like a teen-ager. Size three.
She and Phil were often mistaken for father and daughter, though he was only
eight years her senior. Phil always laughed, his face got red, and Mace knew it embarrassed him. But Phil was solid. She felt
safe with him.
There it was again, the feeling that she needed protection. Someone to tell
her who she was and where she was going. It was frustrating to need him in that way.
Macie sighed and huddled closer to her husband. Poor Phil. He’d wiped
his nose so much it was raw. Allergies. Real estate agents can’t say “Lock up your pets before I come over.”
Phil’s heart loved animals. His body didn’t.
She worried about Dr. Sorkin too. Sometimes he spent Sunday afternoons working
at the clinic.
“ Gentiles go to church on Sundays,” he joked, “or to the
ball game. An old Jew like me takes opportunity to play catch up.”
Afternoon became evening. Macie gently slid her sleeping husband’s head
off her shoulder. He’d dozed off in the lull in their conversation. Sundays were supposed to be relaxing, but her muscles
were knotted, taut. And she was sick again. Mostly it happened in the mornings, but now the sour taste in her mouth threatened
to erupt in vomiting. She shook off the idea she might be pregnant. How many times had they tried now? She couldn’t
have kids. That much was sure.