September 1, 2011

There are a handful of events in your life that change your life. Or at least affect it in a way that can’t be erased. I had always been pro-choice. I thought that it was always a woman’s choice what she did with her body. Even when she was carrying life. Being raised Catholic meant that I was contradicting the church’s teachings. (It wasn’t the first or last time we’d had disagreements.) And then I had an affair. That was fun. Then stopped. For reasons I didn’t understand. Months later I discovered that the woman I was involved with had gotten pregnant and had an abortion. She felt obligated to tell me about it. (And I thank her for that.) It made me sick. Not her right to have an abortion. But that we had been so irresponsible. We should have taken precautions. (I felt just as culpable.) And I was angry with her. That she hadn’t told me before hand. Not because I would have disagreed with her decision. But because she took all the responsibility for that decision. She should not have born that pain alone.





Theatre floors. Sticky. Popcorn like burrs. Bull frog in the corner. Belched. Lovers in the back row. Crunching on crackers and marmalade. Red exit sign stared into the darkened room. Unblinking. Like it was keeping its own counsel. My heart was in the coke holder.


On the screen a man was pleading. For his Mexican life. Weeping. Before the dark gringo. Clint Eastwood turned to the audience. He wasn’t smiling. Eyes smoking. Finger twitched. There was a gasp from the audience.


The seat beside me was gutted. A spring dangling. Out of the belly. Of Monica’s nightmare. I remember her staring down at her purse. On the floor. Bleeding.


Monica had an abortion. Clint grinned. Bit off the end of a cigar. ‘Everything was too complicated,’ she said. ‘How was I going to explain a baby to my husband?’ I felt cheated. ‘If you knew, what difference would it have made? Look around you. Life is despised.’ A gun shot. Clint relit his cigar. The audience laughed.


Twelve feet tall. Wearing a white gown. Covered in dust. Passing sentence on everyone he met. Clint loved to feed his gun.


Exit. Outside. Sunlight was roaming the street in gangs. Everyone wore shades. Even the truth. Slipping down Yonge Street. Passed the panhandlers, the No Parking signs, the Hare Krishna from Buffalo. Stepped into a bar. A waitress served fries. And beer. A blonde on a platform. In a slinky dress that shimmered. Singing a Billie Holiday tune. Forbidden fruit. A stripper stood on another platform. Scar on her belly. A baby or an appendix. I ordered a beer.


Monica said that there were 2 other girls. At the clinic. Waiting alone with her. One was scared to death. The other chewed gum. And spit out her teeth. A doctor passing by. Dropped a bag of blood. It ran in little fingers across the floor. The doctor ordered the stripper to pick it up. I kept looking at the singer. Thinking. I could change her heart.


The waitress brought over my beer. I gave her a bill. Of some kind. And waved off the change. She made small talk. Single syllable words that sounded like silence. ‘Honey,’ she said. ‘You look like shit.’ I smiled and told her I’d been involved in some medical experiments. She nodded to the bartender. Took a seat. Said that she needed a break. Her feet were killing her. Lit up a cigarette. Blew a smoke ring. And I saw an angel. Being buried in a cloud.



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