Words have Power, They Are Magic Pt 5
We did not stay long in Hawaii as Renee was offered a job as a Junior Partner in the Law firm of Smith, Smith and Neblin located in New York New York. The city that never sleeps. The Big Apple. I’m going to be a part of it New York, New York. Renee was excited, me, not so much. I had spent much of my life in white bread, dog, cat, 2.5 children; look at how awesome we are we foster poor kids, white picket fenceville. Cities were the places to visit and gawk at the extravaganza of Christmas lights and Santas. They certainly were not the places to live. I was a bit claustrophobic after my time in the military and I did not want to live in a city with all of those people crammed together.
So, off to New York we went. We got an overpriced apartment in downtown close to Renee’s work. It was advertised as a two bedroom, one bath with “modern” kitchen apartment. It really was a room and a closet. And by modern kitchen, I could only guess that meant they took out the wood-burning stove and replaced with an electric one. The living area was huge and had floor to ceiling windows that looked over the city. It took some coaxing, but I was able to get them opened and I loved to sit and watch the city, high above the exhaust fumes.
Renee loved the place and spent hours deciding on colors and fabrics. She would come home a little late, rushing in with swatches and brochures eager to show me what she had found. Weekends were spent painting and hanging drapes. She would drag me along to store after store looking for just the right thing. I remember her looking at me with a shine on her face, excitement sparkling in her eyes and she found that perfect vase or that amazing pillow. I really loved watching her as she found stuff for the room/closet that she called the nursery. Her face would go soft and you could see her thinking on babies.
Renee was a brilliant lawyer, never losing a case and soon she made full partner. It was now Smith, Smith, Neblin, and Bittner. We celebrated with a fancy dinner at Le Galls, where we drank too much wine and laughed at the tiny portions. As we left, slightly tipsy, Renee dragged me to a hotdog vendor on the corner, telling me that there was so little food on her plate at the restaurant, that only a fairy could be full. As we inhaled hotdogs with everything, Renee stopped and looked at me.
“Let’s have a baby,” she announced, her mouth full of hotdog, mustard dappling her lip.
The hot dog vendor who never looked up said, “Not here lady”
We both cracked up and ran home, where I did my best to give her a baby.
I did well. Renee was pregnant. I watched in amazement as my beautiful wife would get up with morning sickness, eat crackers and sip water until it pass, then get dressed and go to work. She would come home exhausted her feet hurting. I would rub her feet for her and beg her to take time off. She would not have it. I was in awe of her, of her strength. She would remind that women have been having babies and working for centuries. It was true, but I was uneasy.
I, myself, had not been able to find work. Every day I went out looking. I had started with the larger companies. I thought, perhaps, they would like to hire a veteran. I do have some skills. I am disciplined tidy takes orders well, can problem solve quickly, honest, and I don’t complain much. Those larger companies, though, they wanted a resume. I was not going to write that down. My promises to my wife that she had me write down had caused no harm and I did not want to jinx it. So no writing. No writing meant no resume. They didn’t even want to talk to me, to get to know me without one. So I tried the local bars. I was a large man, 6 ft something, and, again, with my military background, I would make a good bouncer. Or so I thought. It turned out that many bouncers were the bartenders friend, brother, son, family of some kind. There was no job there for me.
I still had my military pension coming. I was combat wounded so it wasn’t that bad, I just wanted to feel like I pulled more of my own weight. I wasn’t resentful of Renee making all the money, I was more ashamed I didn’t bring in enough. Besides, I spent most of my days doing nothing. I would clean the breakfast dishes and maybe sweep if needed. Then I would go to the park and sit on a bench. I had a favorite bench. Painted white, it faced the duck pond. I could sit and say hi to the folks who walked by. I could watch the children come and throw bread to the ducks. Sometimes, people would sit next to me. When I first started to come , the local drug dealers would sit down and try to sell me their wares. They quickly learned, however, I was not interested and left alone. Most of the time those who sat down, did not want to be talked to. Every now and then , though, someone would chat with me. I met many people that way and was always amazed at what people would tell you. Sometimes, though, sometimes, I could ease their burden and just tell a story.
Soon I was known as the guy who tells the stories at the park. People would come back and ask for another. Renee thought it was cute but she was never interested in my stories. She wanted my hugs, my kisses and my love, not my stories. It was ok. I was happy to hold her and love her. My stories I kept for those in the park. One of the regulars, one of those who were there every noontime, turned out to be a head janitor for a private school across the street. He needed another janitor, an assistant, just a couple times a week. Would I be interested? I would. And that is what I became. A janitor. In an all girl private school full of overly spoiled rich kids.
I hated it. Well no not really. I enjoy the cleaning. The sweeping and mopping of the hallways I liked. There was something about a clean shiny floor that I like. I didn’t mind cleaning the bathrooms and vacuuming the carpets, I didn’t mind washing the walls. Nope I did not mind the things required of me. I minded the children. The girls. Almost every one of them reminded of Blendy. Whiny, spoiled, selfish. I hated them. They would make fun of me. I did have a limp from my time in the prison camp and my left arm was somewhat useless as well. The kids grabbed hold of it and called me Mr. Gimpy or Igor. I could of dealt with it, they were kids after all, but all I saw in my head was Blendy crying about her puppy and when they were particularly taunting, Blendy in a car on fire. On those days, I would rush home to Renee and hide in her embrace until my vision would clear.
One day I was at work, when my name was called over the PA. Me? I timidly presented myself at the office, somewhere I had never been, not even to clean. They told me Renee was having a baby. A baby I rushed outside and hailed a cab. I screamed at the taxi driver to go faster. A futile endeavor in New York traffic. A couple of blocks from the hospital I threw money at the cabbie jumped out and ran to the hospital. I arrived breathless and once directed to the maternity ward, I ran up the stairs, the elevator taking way too long.
I burst into the ward and was instantly shushed. A nurse came to me and told me to please quiet down and what could he do for me. When I told her I was looking for Renee, though, her face changed and she told me to wait there. She walked down the hall in a hurry. I did not understand what was going on. I looked over at the nurse sitting at the desk. She quickly looked away but not before I saw pity in her eyes. What the hell was going on? I started to walk down the hall looking for Renee. I opened the first door it was empty, as was the second. The third had someone in it but not Renee. The nurse at desk ran to me and grabbed my arm, pleading with me to calm down.
I shook her off, and started to call for Renee. Where was she? What was going on? It was becoming surreal. As I went to open another door, I hear my name being called and a hand on my shoulder. I turned around. There was Renee’s doctor. Standing behind him was a guard and a nurse holding a bundle in her arms.
“Where is Renee?” I demanded.
“Mr. Bittner, Please have a seat.”He indicated a waiting room on the left.
He steered me over but I refused his second offer to take a seat.
“Where is Renee?” I asked again.
The doctor looked me in the eye, and then he told me. He told the impossible. That there had been some complications and Renee was in serious condition. That she was not expected to live. That is when the nurse with the bundle came forward. She placed it my arms congratulating on my baby boy. I looked down. He was the spitting image of Renee. I started to cry and handed the baby back to the nurse. I just wanted Renee.
When they brought me to her, she was laying white as a ghost on a bed. She had wires, IVs and machines beeping. It was white. I remember everything just being white. I sat down next to her and held her hand. It was cold. I kissed her. Her lips were cold. The only reason I knew she was still alive was the sound of the heart monitor beep, beep, beeping. I kissed her again. I told her I loved her and then begin to beg her not to leave me. I wasn’t sure I could handle her going away. Her eyes fluttered open and she looked at me. She opened her lips and I whispered. I got closer to hear.
“I love you,” she said softly, oh so softly. And then, she left me.
The heart minter sounded its warning, and the room exploded into activity. I was soon pushed out of the room. I watched through the window as they tried to shock her heart into activity. She was pounded on, injections given and air forced into her lungs. It didn’t work. I knew it wasn’t going to. I had kept my promise. I loved her until her last breath and I had given her all the children her body could have. I had killed her. I did it. I had written those words. I knew it. Words have power, they are magic.