Anne Caryl

Page thirty-three

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CHAPTER SIXTEEN

 

  Paige waited until Mary’s guest left, then pulled into the drive and turned off the ignition. She walked the flagstone path, skirted the garage, and rang the back bell. She knocked, then opened the door a crack.

  “Mary? Are you home?”

 “ Coming,” Mary called. “Make yourself at home, Paige.” She swiped at her red eyes, straightened her blouse, pulled the corners of her mouth into a smile and checked her reflection in the hall mirror on the way to the kitchen.

   Paige was talking from the other room. “Who was your guest? I’m sorry, Mary. I know you can’t answer that.”

   “It wasn’t a client. It was the nurse from Sorkin’s clinic.”

    Paige was reaching into the cookie jar when Mary came into the room. “Caught,” she giggled. “Hi.”

   Her hair was down, tied back with a red ribbon. She wore the ever-present jeans, and a black tee shirt with “Taken...by Jesus” emblazoned across the front in silver letters.

 Hi, Paige. Caught with your hand in the cookie jar, huh? You’re looking great.” Mary opened the refrigerator door and pulled out two cans of Diet Coke. As she handed one to the girl, she caught the faint scent of lavender perfume.

“I’m feeling a lot better, Mary. The folks at Hope prayed for me.” Paige popped open the tab and perched on the kitchen stool.

 “I see.” Mary’s head ached and she noticed her hands still shook.

“What does that mean I see?” 

 “Nothing, really. I just have a funny feeling about that church. Their web site is full of hate messages. It’s not just the abortionists. Last month they blasted the gays. Next, it will be Blacks or Mexicans, or people who read the wrong books.  I don’t want to see you caught up in that.”

“It’s God’s work, Mary. We’re God’s Army. How many times did God tell people to wipe out a city or a whole race and they didn’t do it? Do you know what happened? It came back on the disobedient. Their children intermarried. They set idols up in their churches. The corrupt seed preyed upon them. How would you feel if a homosexual raped your son? What if they sacrificed him to a false god? That’s not too far away from abortion you know.” The woman’s leg was shaking and her hands clenched.

"First off, Paige, God is about love, not hate. Of course there’s a right and a wrong. But judging people is for God, not us. The Bible says ‘He who loveth not, knoweth not God, for God is love.’ That’s a far cry from a web site that publishes a hit list. And who are they? Yesterday it was gays today, pro-choice people. Who will they be tomorrow?”

“You were quick enough to go along with that protest thing. The Hope people were part of that.”

 “We didn’t hurt anyone.”

 “And we didn’t follow through. The partial birth abortion ban was defeated. The clinics are still running. We accomplished nothing for the Cause.”

  “For the Cause? Paige, you’re starting to scare me. You sound like those people who keep their families holed up in cabins in the woods with rifles and assault weapons and—”

   “For the Cause, Mary. For the babies. Have you forgotten them? I guess if I have to pick up a rifle or something, the cause is worth it. If that scares you, then maybe you’re not fit for service. Many are called, you know, but few are chosen.”

   “That passage is talking about salvation.”

   “They’re one and the same. Acts 3: ‘And it shall come to pass that every soul that will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.’ Have you ever heard Brother Soudo, Mary? You really should. Lots of people think he’s a prophet."

  “That’s talking about Jesus, not Hope Tabernacle. And if you hear that prophet, Jesus, you know you can’t earn salvation. It’s a gift. All our efforts are like filthy rags to God. Salvation comes because of Jesus’ blood, not our sweat.”

“Brother Soudo says he who turns back from the plow is not worthy. He says we will raise up a mighty army and we will prevail. The corrupt shall fall by the way, ten thousand by our side, and a thousand by our right hand." 

 “Now you sound like that Eric Rudolph fanatic." 

 “A man unappreciated in this life. You know what they say about a prophet in his own country." 

 “Rudolph is a murderer. When he bombed that clinic in Birmingham, a policeman was killed.”

 Paige McKenzie smiled as she stood. “ I believe that’s called ‘collateral damage’. If you’re not with us, Mary, you’re against us. God says He’ll spew the lukewarm out of his mouth. But I’d warn you against having anything to do with that clinic nurse who was just here. She’s being watched.” 

  Paige left the house without saying goodbye. Mary’s hands shook as she pulled back the lace curtain, saw Paige round the corner of the house and disappear.

 

***

 

 

Wednesday, a package arrived. It was from Mary Conley. Macie tore away the brown shopping bag taped around it, and found a book on pregnancy. “These Right- To- Lifers just never give up,” she told Phil as he craned his neck in curiosity.

“She doesn’t think you know about pregnancy...a nurse?” 

 “I guess...” Mace stopped mid-sentence. She turned the book sideways to reveal a photo, covering both pages, of a fetus at two months. “Oh, look, Phil. Look at his tiny feet. Look at his hands. Isn’t that adorable? He’s sucking his thumb...It says he’s about an inch long.” 

 “You’ve seen all that before.” Phil sounded blasť, but he moved to view the picture. 

 “Yes...no. Not like this. I’d forgotten that the word ‘fetus’ is Latin. Do you know what it means? It means young one or offspring. Isn’t that great? Phil, I’m about eight weeks. This could be our baby. Our offspring. Phil, he’s sucking his thumb.”

“What’s that?” Phil pointed to a strip of ribbon, striped pink and blue, tuckedbetween the book’s pages.

“It’s just a bookmark...Wait...Look at this.” Fastened to the ribbon was a plastic lapel pin: tiny baby feet. Printed on the bookmark were the words, "This is the actual size of a baby’s feet at ten weeks."  Macie turned it over. The back bore an inscription too: "Abortion Stops a Beating Heart."

 She shivered, remembering the protest, the logo on the man’s stained shirt. And this book,a present from one of them…still…

Macie ran her hand over the picture, then closed the book without further comment and laid it gently on the table. “Easter’s less than two weeks away. Mom sent a basket for the baby. Like it’s already here...already her grandchild.” 

 “Your mom or my mom?” 

 “Mine. But you saw the card your folks sent us...happy Easter to the three of us."

 “They’re excited.”

 “You missed the point. It’s like this baby is already sleeping in the bassinet. Like it’s already a little person.”

“Well, that’s kind of how I feel, too. I mean, he has a name. He’s Anthony."

 “Or Weslie Marie.” Macie put her arms around her husband and squeezed tight. “Or maybe both.” Mace fell silent. The picture in the book stirred warring emotions. She was a mother...already. She was ecstatic. She was terrified. 

 Phil “humphed’” in response as he picked up a paper from the table and slid it into his briefcase. “Well, I’ll leave the care of our baby , or babies, to you. Someone has to bring home the bacon, and since you’re on vacation, that someone is me.” He gave Macie a quick peck on his way out the door. 

 She called after him. “ We could name our baby Max, short for Re/max, and maybe they’d give you a bigger commission. Then we could buy more bacon.”

After Phil left, quiet settled in and Macie picked up the book again, and opened it to themarked page. “Weslie, I think these people want more from us than just closing the clinic. But what?”

 

 

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Anne Caryl
504 East Furry St.
Holyoke, Co. 80734