Here’s another oddity from Dr. Scolapasta.
While this isn’t characteristic of many of us growing up in the North End in the 1950s/60s, it certainly was typical of the strangenesses that occurred in our home town from time to time.
A certain MB wants to piss.
Most of us just walked home and used our toilets.
Outside of the apartments, the toilets, but they flushed.
But MB didn’t care where he relieved himself.
So he’d walk to his building and piss in the hallway.
He'd pass by fifty buildings to piss in his own hallway.
I mean, even if you were so shameless that you'd rather pee in a public space than go upstairs to your private toilet, wouldn’t you choose someone else’s building to soil?
While, for the most part the North End a wholesome placed to grow up, strangenesses abounded.
Note that we’ll be collecting these North End oddities on a page in the section called Boston’s Italian North End, 1950s and 1960s on a page called “Dr. Scolapasta’s Oddities.”
We’ve been publishing Conflicted, a Saga,” on Thursdays, one chapter at a time. You can read all the chapters collected on the Web Site pages, “Conflicted, a Saga.”
Today's entry, Chapter Nine, is a long chapter that chronicles Dee’s meeting with Dr. Mike, a psychiatrist and long-time family friend (of her beloved, now-deceased Grandfather.) Some of the stories she tells Dr. Mike are otherworldly. But he, aware of Dee’s powers from her birth, accepts them as the literal truth. Interview over, Dr. Mike opens the door to leave and then hesitates. Dee urges him to return and gestures for him to take the chair she had just sat in for her interview. Dr. Mike does, and then violates the standards of his profession. He shares his own X-file with her.
Today is Thursday, July 12, 2018
Good morning, my friends.
This is my ninety-fifth consecutive daily posting.
It is 5.41 am and today is another glorious day. We in a lucky stretch.
Inspired by The Taming of the Shrew, it tells the tale of musical theater actors Fred Graham and Lilli Vanessi, who were once married, and are now performing opposite each other in the roles of Petruchio and Katherine in a Broadway-bound musical version of William Shakespeare's play.
Already on poor terms, the pair begin an all-out emotional war mid-performance that threatens the production's success. The only thing keeping the show together are threats from a pair of gangsters, who have come to collect a gambling debt from the show's Lucentio, Bill Calhoun. In classic musical comedy fashion, slapstick madness ensues before everything is resolved.
Dorothy Kingsley's screenplay, which was nominated for a Writers Guild of America Award, was adapted from the musical's book by Samuel and Bella Spewack. The songs were by Cole Porter, with musical underscoring by Saul Chaplin and André Previn, who were nominated for an Academy Award. Hermes Pan choreographed the dance routines.
The movie was filmed in 3-D, using the most advanced methods of that technique then available. Devotees of the stereoscopic 3-D medium usually cite this film as one of the best examples of a Hollywood release in polarized 3D.
I’m at my desk.
Dinner is leftovers: lasagna, roast chicken, chicken and broccoli. The lasagna recipe worked out very well. I’ll post it in a week or so.
CHAPTER ONE: 9.00pm, Monday, 30 January, 2017
Allies of a defeated monster kidnap Diana and forcibly addict her to heroin. She’s rescued and driven to Truro, Massachusetts. There, in a car parked outside a private residence, Diana emerges from a withdrawal-induced hallucination. Ivy, a friend and caregiver, calms her. In the darkness, Diana dramatizes the not-too-distant hand-to-hand confrontation in which she deliberately killed that monster. Ivy, Diana’s rescuer, waits for Diana to decide to enter the recovery house. Diana faces not only the external conflict of powerful enemies, but a spiritual disconnect brought on by her craving for drugs, putting that strange god above her Creator. She knows God can forgive her – but she can’t forgive herself. She does enter recovery.
CHAPTER TWO: 11.30pm, Monday, 30 January, 2017
After a two-hour nap, Diana wakes and shares a dream with Ivy of a visit she made to Ivy’s homeland, Diana not sure if she dreamed of a fantasy or a real place. Diana woke when a threat entered the dream. Diana’s body reacted strongly to the heroin deprivation, covering her and the bathroom with diarrhea. Humiliated, Diana breaks down.
CHAPTER THREE: 5.15am, Tuesday, twelve hours in
Diana dreams of a confrontation with a huge, evil serpent promising the destruction of mankind by gathering evildoers around the world onto a website that rewards subscribers for committing crimes. His idea: to entice so many humans into criminal activity as to overwhelm both health care and security providers, overthrowing the social structure and plunging mankind into the End of Days. The eighty-foot serpent has reserved Diana’s murder to himself and he approaches Diana for the kill. She waits helplessly. She wakes up. Ivy suggests that they walk out for coffee, the walk being therapy for Diana’s physical state. Diana enthusiastically embraces both the coffee, a cortado, and the café experience.
CHAPTER FOUR: 3.30pm, Tuesday, nineteen hours in
Diana suffers a bout of severe cramps. Ivy tells Diana her parents dropped off clothes and returns Diana’s cell phone.
CHAPTER FIVE: 5.45am, Wednesday, 1 February, thirty-three hours in
On her way to the café, Diana’s quads seize up. She falls and cracks her head. She returns to the recovery house. Ivy goes to the café and returns with Diana’s coffee, telling Diana she will be gone for a couple of hours. Diana welcomes the alone-time to introspect her situation. She decides she needs to move away from her home town and to set up independent living.
CHAPTER SIX: 11.30am, thirty-nine hours in
CHAPTER SEVEN: 7.00pm.forty-six hours in
She calls her parents, assuring them she’s only several days away from seeing them. She learns that a close aunt has been killed – parents to detail circumstances when they’re next together. They recall the annual Christmas dress tradition, Aunt Clara designing, fabricating, and fitting white dresses for Dee and each of her three girlfriends. They lovingly complain to Dee about the number of times her girlfriends call each day for any news of their leader, their girlfriend. Dee learns that Aunt Clara’s attorney would like to speak to her. And she asks for contact information for Doctor Mike, a family friend and psychiatrist.
CHAPTER EIGHT: 5.00am, Friday, 3 February, eighty hours in
Isabel Guffy, Aunt Clara’s attorney, catches up with Dee at the café. Isabel tells Dee that Aunt Clara has left her a fortune. Dee asks Isabel to be her attorney. Isabel happily accepts and agrees to find an apartment in Boston for Dee that will be move-in ready in the next forty-eight hours. Dee wants an apartment with a well-designed kitchen and at least one very large bedroom.
9.00am, eighty-four hours in; a precipitous end to Dee’s stay
“Good morning, my dear,” Dee startled awake, rubbing her eyes, Ivy bending over, gently touching her shoulder, whispering, “Dr. Mike is downstairs.”
“Oh! Great! Doctor Mike. I fell asleep.”
“You needed it. Don’t worry – he’s comfortable in the study; liking the fire.”
Looking down at her bulky sweater and baggy-assed jeans, remembering the morning trek, forgetting for the moment that she hadn’t changed out of that outfit, deciding “So what?” saying, “I’m dressed. I just need a minute to wash my face. What time is it?” going into the bathroom.
“Nine in the morning.”
“Still Friday?” Dee speaking loudly from the toilet, Ivy answering, “Yes.”
“Does he need anything?”
“He’s in the library, comfortable. Sitting where Sister Mary Margaret sat yesterday.”
Dee found the doctor in one of the two facing arm chairs, open at his feet, a beat up brown leather briefcase, perhaps the same age as Dr. Mike. The doctor stood up when Dee walked into the room, briefly embracing her, the two exchanging the greetings of good friends together again after a hiatus. Dr. Mike looked more worn than she remembered him but otherwise unchanged: plump, bearded, and happy faced, the steel-rimmed eyeglasses that framed his eyes and the aroma of pipe tobacco that emanated from him completing the reassuring familiar. The doctor sat back down in the arm chair where, surrounded by floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, charcoal brown rug, heavily curtained windows, softly glowing table lamps, and the snap and crackle of the small fire whose soft flickering suffused the scene with a gold patina, he became the poster boy of graceful aging.
Dee sat. “It’s been a long time since we were in the same room. So much has happened. So much to talk about. And you know, I didn’t even ask my parents whether you saw private clients. I remember you did a lot of work with the police.”
“In fact, I have ended all my personal consults. You are an extremely welcome exception. You know your Grandfather and I were the best of friends. He was a mysterious man with many secrets, secrets that challenged the way we look at the universe. I believe you were privy to those secrets and had many more that went far beyond what he knew. I bring that up just to let you know that I consider my being here a great honor.
“Professionally, I have retained my position as consultant to the Boston Patrolman’s Association and still do treat policemen who need help. That practice keeps me plenty busy. In fact, I have the strangest…Ooops! Sorry.”
Dee deflected her curiosity at the slip, “I remember ‘you’ and ‘police work’ being synonymous.”
“I’ve been with the cops from forty and some odd years when the Police Association first decided to create the position: Director of Psychiatry for the Boston Police Association. They solicited applicants. It sounded like a fascinating opportunity. I applied and got the job.
“The work is interesting. I especially enjoy appearing in Court as an expert witness. And occasionally I get an X-file that has some interest.”
“Opposite to yours. You are the real deal. That I know, even before you start talking. Your Grandfather and I spent many evenings talking about you. Most of my self-named X-file cases don’t get beyond the simply weird. I call them X-files to amuse myself.”
For a moment neither of them spoke. “How do we start this?”
“Why did you ask to see me? Why so urgently?”
Dee looked away from the doctor to the window, before turning back and saying, “Two reasons, I think. One is that I am obsessed by a rage against my kidnappers that I’m afraid may carry over into the rest of my relationships.”
“And the other?”
“I’ve had several dreams leaving me with a puzzle that I can’t answer. And I need the answer because a war against mankind has begun, is growing as we speak. Before I jump in I need to know what strengths and powers I still have.”
“Who’s waging this war?”
“The source of all evil.”
Dr. Mike tented his fingers and set his lips on them before continuing. “Tell me about your dreams.” Dee crossed her legs, folder her arms across her chest, and related the complete story of her time-travel and defeat of the Mouse King. Of her travel to the Island of Children's Dreams. The appearance of the serpent. Her unexplained escape.
“And why has the devil suddenly decided to take action against you?”
“There’s no sudden about this. He’s had in mind to corrupt or kill me from the moment I was born. Because he sees me as a prize worth gaining. Because I’ve been given unique powers to help defend against him.”
“Do you think, if it came to it, you could have killed that eighty-foot long, eight hundred and fifty-pound serpent?”
“Well, I killed a four-hundred-pound rat with a sword.” Dee looked to the window. “But no. I couldn’t kill Satan. But I did escape. I don’t remember how, but here I am. I used to have protectors. Maybe they helped me. I try to remember but draw blanks.”
“Okay. You speak of super-sized rats and serpent. Are you speaking metaphorically?”
She stood up, slowly circled to the rear of her chair, and, hands on the back, leaned forward towards the doctor. “I am, Dr. Mike, if you see human beings as capable of discovering all of God’s work. I am, if you see an eternity, with the possibility of unceasing creation by an all-powerful Being, as limited to the result of one single-bang of whatever magnitude, creating one single universe however boundless.” She walked to the window and moved the curtains to look outside.
Her hand continuing to hold the curtain above her head, she twisted back to the doctor, looking past him to the wall mirror opposite, seeing her face reflected there, her head illuminated by the sun behind it, the eclipsed light casting her face in a chiaroscuro. As she continued, her mysterious delivery chimed magically in the closed space.
“But if you believe, as I do, Dr. Mike, that from the infinite imagination and power of an unfathomable Creator exist worlds and creatures of a scope beyond human perception or imagination, not anticipating the impossible or unforeseeable is as illogical as a single-dimensional, pizza-thin earth.” She froze for a moment.
“And believing as I do, it’s not a leap to consider that, occasionally, unrelated and separate realities may intersect; not a leap to consider that works like A Wrinkle in Time or The Time Machine are no more fantastical imaginings than a history of the American Revolution. And not a leap to consider that, despite the chemical, physical, and mathematical odds against, one of His creations, a believing human being, me, for example, may find herself able to pass effortlessly to and from one or more of these intersecting dimensions.”
She walked behind her arm chair and pushed it forward onto its tiptoes, pointing at Dr. Mike – the chair a readied defensive football tackle waiting for the snap; Dr. Mike the leaden-footed fullback.
“Of course, by sheer luck an aging psychiatrist may one day find himself in the presence of such a person, and may recognize how fortunate that makes him,” Dr. Mike, his hands surrendering, he chuckling, looking at the cocked arm chair, shook his head.
“My caregiver, Ivy, whom you’ve met? Who’s cared for me these last few days? A fairy – from a dimension that permanently intersects with our own universe, an intersect that a handful of humans have crossed and recrossed, some taking the time to write about it: L’Engle, Serling, Tolkien...”
“And Oliver Stone?” Dr. Mike smiling.
Dee not smiling, “Maybe, yeah,” returning the chair to at-ease, walking around to the front of it, falling into it. “So, no, Doctor Mike. I do not speak metaphorically; or this past Christmas a metaphorical rat caused real-life physical destruction and emotional distress to hundreds of gentle creatures; and a metaphorical serpent killed my beloved Lilly-Bianca.”
“I’m sorry? Lily-Bianca? The horse?”
“The unicorn; from my dream.”
Dr. Mike rifled through his briefcase pulling out a single sheet of paper, holding it between his thumb and forefinger, not speaking for a moment while he perused it, saying “Who are the friends you speak of who may have helped you escape?” She looked away and he tried again. “The men who abducted you; were they ever caught?” Still no response. “Do you remember who kidnapped you? Can you describe them?”
Dee gripped the chair’s arms, her chin and chest thrusting forward, “Dr. Mike, I’m giving you unfiltered hard truth without a dance-around about the spiritual world, the only real world, because you came to me in the guise of a friend of my Grandfather; as a friend with faith in who I am. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have invited you to sit here and ask questions; or, asking them, you’d be getting answers cloaked in a subterfuge impossible to penetrate.
“But your paper fiddling and your abrupt change of subject without response to what I just said is silence; your silence, doubt; and doubt a betrayal of my Grandfather and me.”
“Oh God! You think I doubted what you said? No!”
Sharply, “Please don’t use His name carelessly,” standing and returning to the window, turning to measure the distance to the door.
Dr. Mike followed her from his chair, desperate to maintain eye contact. With his hands on his knees and face uplifted, “I’m so sorry. For my irreverence and for sending any signal implying that I doubt anything you say. I ask your forgiveness. Dee, I believe the literal truth of every word you’ve told me.
“If anyone else was telling me these things I’d have already written a pad-full of prescriptions and would be on the phone calling locked facilities to arrange to have you shipped out.” Diana laughed for the first time in weeks. Dr. Mike smiled, too. “What you tell me I accept as objective reality. If I’ve sent any contrary signal, please treat it as a simple lapse, like missing a familiar exit on a highway.”
She moved the curtain and looked out the window while she listened to him twist in the wind. “Give me this first meeting to understand you, Dee. Your experiences are unique. Only you know about them. Without a frame of reference for me to measure you against, you’re not that easy. Okay?
“I think we should trace your spiritual history from the beginning.”
Still looking out the window, “Do you really mean from the beginning?”
“I do. What’s the first metaphysical event you remember?”
Dee took her phone from her back pocket and pressed a single number. “Would you like coffee? Can Ivy use your car to get them? Say Yes and you’re back in my good graces.”
“Regular. Three sugars. Keys in ignition.”
Dee spoke into the phone asking Ivy if she would mind driving out for two American-styled coffees, one black and one regular, three sugars, very hot, sliding the phone back into her pocket, taking her chair. “Are you strapped in?” Dee shifted around until she got comfortable and drew a deep breath.
“The first thing I remember is helplessness, an already-gendered protoplasmic dot caught in a current coursing a thousand miles an hour, metaphorically speaking of course. Not knowing a uterus, just grabbing at anything anchored, being swept along, thinking, ‘Whoa?... Help!... Ooopps!...Bumps…Stop…Grab...Settle… Good... Whew!’
“Remembering the relief when I locked on, the flood trying to dislodge me, failing. Secured, I looked around finding myself looking out through my mother’s eyes and seeing my dad, thinking, Nice guy, and seeing my mom reflected off my dad’s eyes, thinking, Lovely, and then seeing another being, me saying…What? Who? Why? Wrong! Go away!”
“What or who did you see?”
“Okay. Time for some background. Yesterday I met with my spiritual advisor. Sister Mary Margaret presented me with a letter from the Boston diocese to me. Give me a moment,” going out the door. She returned in two minutes holding four sheets-four pages of a double-spaced letter typed on textured paper, handing the sheets to Dr. Mike, asking him to read them out loud. “They worked on this analysis for four months.” Dr. Mike shuffled the sheets to the last page, and, paused a moment before looking up at Dee, showing her the signature: none.
“The bishop wrote it. Sister Mary Margaret told me that he did. That makes it the truth. However, no high clergyman is ever going to put his name to such radical conclusions.”
“But at least it’s on the bishop’s stationery,” Dr. Mike, clearing his throat.
“For two weeks I thought about your account of the moment you received the first of your special powers. I framed the issues and asked for editorial and interpretive help from my boss, Aengus – Bishop Reardon. He is aware of your special circumstances and was receptive to providing an interpretation of the events, passing copies of my summary to two church scholars, one of them a specialist on angels with a widely disseminated doctoral dissertation on the subject to his credit; the other specializing in the chronicling of mystical experiences with God.
“Both scholars returned incisive and detailed reports. Putting everyone’s ideas together, I present the following as a likely scenario for what occurred at your conception. I hope it resonates with your own thinking.
“Prophets, mystics, and scholars agree that in all the traditions and testaments recording the activities of angels, only once did Michael, the archangel, ever leave God’s side – that when Satan thought to take God’s place. Then God commanded St. Michael to lead the Seraphim against Satan’s rebellious hordes and drive them from Paradise.
“To this body of work we may now add your first-hand report of an incident in which you, newly-conceived, saw through your mother’s eyes a prayerful figure, whose brightness frustrated a detailed view, kneeling bedside, hands on your mother’s belly, your father also present. Neither parent noticed this presence whom you observed for several seconds, not more than six, before he faded even from your view.
“Adding credence to your report we have a detailed history of unusual, heroic, supernatural, and even divine events surrounding your life, many of which are supported by the first-hand testimony of credible witnesses, some of these being clergy of various faiths.”
Dr. Mike looked up from the pages saying to Dee, “Here, someone, Sister Mary Margaret, I presume, scripted in an ‘A,’ referencing a handwritten note on the last page reading,” Dr. Mike shuffling the sheets, ‘Diana, you know that since I’ve known you I’ve kept copious and detailed records of everything you have ever done, including names and contact information of witnesses. (In many cases, I’ve gotten signed witness statements.) Your history gives ample proof that you possess an array of powers unparalleled in the history of man. Such gifts can only come from God Himself. Of course, you understand that the implications of what we’re saying are so profound that any such pronouncement about a living person cannot be promulgated as an official Church position.’ The author initialed the comment, SMM, Sister Mary Margaret.”
Dr. Mike butted the sheets and continued reading. “So while a visit from St. Michael is unique in recorded history, in your case we find it consistent in the context of your life as a mystic-warrior and therefore plausible. Only Michael would be charged with an errand with militant repercussions, such a task consonant with his job description and appropriate for the agent of God whom we believe you are.
“What was his errand? Why was he there? We went back and forth on these issues for countless hours.
“In the human plane we’re conceived, born, and celebrate one birthday after the other in a peculiarly linear way, until we die, a long time by our reckoning. We use time as a prosthetic to help us to isolate, order, and understand one very thin slice of the universe at one frozen moment, just enough for us, with our extremely limited capacity, to handle.
“But for eternal creatures, time does not exist. In their perception, at conception, a human’s life is played out in its entirety. So, the moment you were conceived, the eternals, angels and devils both, knew you to be a saintly person.”
Dr. Mike looked up from the pages, and adjusted his glasses on his nose, “I’m getting chills down my spine. My goodness, Dee. In all my years of practice, in all my years of reading and years in education, including a goodly number of years in parochial schools, through every episode of the X-files, twice-over, in all the time I spent with your Grandfather, I’ve never even heard whispers of such a story.”
“Grandfather’s experiences concerned only the Fantasy World. He and I never spoke of the spiritual.”
“This is way beyond my pay grade. I am very honored to be even on the periphery of this.” He gave tiny tears time to retract and dry on their own, blinking several times before continuing.
“So we come to the reason for St. Michael’s visit. We believe your grace, love, and strength of purpose demonstrated at your conception earned for you physical and spiritual powers surpassing any others either described in the Scriptures, alluded to in tradition, or even made up in folk or old wives’ tales.
“St. Michael’s laying his hands on your mother’s belly, delivering those powers to you, was intended for you to witness – your ceremonial induction into a class of mystic-warriors, perhaps a class of just one, hitherto unknown. Having executed his mission, in a tick-tock the archangel returned to God’s side.
“Collaterally, however, likely inevitably, he left you with an implacable and frighteningly powerful enemy-eternal, he who cheers the opportunity to turn such a prize from God, or, failing that, to destroy you and your mission. Satan means to use whatever method or surrogate available to attack you. If one fails, he’ll try again with others; and again. You will never be rid of him, Diana.”
The gentle knock on the door startled both, Dee recovering, “Come in.”
Ivy brought in coffee from the Bun which she’d reheated and recast into full-blown coffee service, including china cups and saucers. While she set the tray on the coffee table and set the appropriate cup on the side tables, Dr. Mike leaned forward and stretched his arm, handing the letter back to Dee saying, “The letter ends with a ‘Yours in Christ.’ No signature.” Leaving a china pot on the coffee tray, Ivy left the room after pointing out that second cups were available. Dee set the pages on the floor near the rocker and doctor and patient both sipped from the lovely, delicate cups.
“Pretty amazing, having usually conservative clergy going out on a limb like that. No wonder there are no signatures.” He sipped again. “Question for you. Do I remember from one thing or another that you are an exorcist?”
“I think everyone has some touch of the exorcist in the sense of having a calming influence on other people. But yes. In the sense of expelling demons, I have more than a touch.”
“When did you first discover that you had that power?”
“In the third grade. A very nice boy suddenly became a hellion. In a quiet moment, he turned to me and I took his look of desperation as a plea for help. My response was impromptu: I jumped into his mind, saw a demon, and told it to leave.”
“And it left? Like that? No prayers? No ceremony? No hierarchical permissions?”
“No. No. No. Just like that: ‘go or face the consequences.’”
“Look, Dr. Mike, this is an entirely new topic. I’m not afraid of it. But I’m running out of steam. I’ll give you a detail on Jerry and my third-grade exorcism, and what came afterwards, at our next meeting. You’ll love that story.”
“I love it already. Sorry. Something on my mind I’m allowing to interfere. So, question: your memory goes back to the moment you were conceived?”
“Or maybe the next moment, but close to.”
“Why did you react negatively to the angel in your parents’ bedroom?”
Dee raised her voice. “I did. That’s all. Of course, I didn’t know who or what it was at that time. For some reason I resented its being there.”
“You just asked me that. No reason. We don’t all like everybody. And many mystics are simply obnoxious and disagreeable, not people to share breakfasts or hang with.
“Of course, at that time I didn’t equate the angel’s presence to gifts and good things. Knowing he was trying to help might have made me a bit less hostile. But only a bit. Frankly, I’m simply not overly fond of angels. Nor am I sure that these gifts have done me any good. They’ve certainly caused a lot of pain.”
“Were you immediately aware you had special powers?”
“In a way. For example, I knew that I could see the angel and my parents could not. But I didn’t see this difference as important or special. Just what it was.”
“You certainly had a unique fetal development.”
She reached for her cup. “Ha! Buckle up. Ready for a modern-day version of a bible story?” She sipped and held the cup on her leg.
“Remember Mary visiting her cousin Elizabeth?”
“Elizabeth pregnant with John the Baptist and she with Jesus, and John jumping in the Messiah’s presence?”
“Go on. Loving this,” balancing his coffee on his lap while leaning forward in the chair.
“So my parents have three sets of close friends knowing each other from high school, the four women all carrying at the same time, all for the first time, my mother the last of the set to get pregnant. The girls decide on a Memorial Day get-together at our house. On the day of the party, the other three couples arrive, together, and father calls up to mother who’s finishing up in the bathroom, ‘Honey, they’re here.’
“Are you telling the story as your mother told it to you?”
“No! Are you listening? I’m telling you what I saw and heard, through my mother’s eyes and ears.”
“Sorry,” Dr. Mike, the apology accompanied with a palm-flash. He set his coffee down on his side table and folded his hands on his lap like a good little boy.
Dee looked at the fire for a moment and then returned to Dr. Mike, saying in her mother’s voice, “‘Be right down,’ she calls, a moment later mom gliding down the stairs to meet her friends.
“The guests had gathered on the patio where the drinks and appetizers had been set out and mother steps outdoors to greet them. My girlfriend Laini’s parents, Josh and Eileen Morgan, he a teacher at BB&N, math, grades 9-12, she an assistant professor at Tufts University, French, are the first to reach her, trading hugs and exclamations. Next in line were Lori-Baby’s parents, David Billingsley, a financial guy for Credit Suisse, and Janet Billingsley, a founder and director of a charitable group that provides services for homeless shelters across the state; and waiting in an informal line after them, Stella’s parents, the Langleys, Sarah and James, both attorneys with big Boston firms, rivals, the firms.
“But none of the others get to hug or congratulate my parents, at least not at that moment.” Dee sipped her coffee.
“What happened?” Dr. Mike.
“You’re worse than a second grader. Look! You made me spill my coffee,” setting her cup down on her side table, wiping her lips with her fingers, her fingers with a napkin.
“Sorry. My composure is running from excited to rambunctious today. Sorry.” Dr. Mike, lifting his cup to hide his face.
Shaking her head, Dee continued. “Sarah stood to attention and placed both hands on her belly, ‘Goodness!’
“‘What is it?’ James holding her elbow, bending in to her.
“‘The baby is jumping. Wow! Really jumping.’
“‘Ooopps, mine, too. Strong.’ Janet Billingsley, her husband Jim’s reaction echoing James’.
“‘The rush is on. Mine is going crazy, too,’ Eileen Morgan, her husband Josh saying to my mom, ‘Too soon for you.’
“‘My mother agreed, ‘Definitely too early…’ her response cut short by my leaping about causing vibrations through her belly that my father felt just from butting shoulders with her.
“Mother grabbed my dad’s arm, ‘Michael, I can feel it. The baby’s kicking.’ And, of course, I was.”
“How are you able to recall the moment in such detail?”
“I do that.”
“Of course,” Dr. Mike.
“Are you making fun of me?”
“No, my dear. But you are perhaps the most remarkable human being on the planet – the most extraordinary events are just another day at the office for you.”
“It’s just what it is.”
“Of course. Go on, please my dear. This is stranger than fiction. Fascinating.”
“Well, the parents just stand around holding bellies, awed, talking in library tones, my mother saying, ‘What’s going on? Any ideas? This is not all just a coincidence. Whatever it is it’s too unsettling for me and I wish it would all stop.’
“I remember being shocked that I upset my mother. I stopped the celebration immediately.”
“You stopped it. Your own jumping.”
“Well it wouldn’t be much to talk about if I just controlled myself, would it?”
“I suppose it depends on your experience. A three-month old fetus active enough to be felt by dad butting shoulders with the mom? A fetus intellectually aware and physically developed enough to start and stop significant movement at will? Either event would be a featured piece in any prominent medical journal. A piece, I should add that would make me world-wide famous and either alter medical history or get me a room in a funny farm.”
“I’m seriously running down. We’ll stop after this story.” Dee celled Ivy for a damp facecloth and set the phone down, closing her eyes and settling back into the chair until Ivy arrived. Dee wiped her face, “I’ll keep it, thanks, Ivy.” Both Dr. Mike and Dee accepted a cold bottle of water and Ivy left them alone again.
“We can wait if you’re too tired.”
“No. Let me finish this story. The end will provide a neat break in the narrative.” Dee took a deep breath. “Okay. I told you about our parents. Let’s do the kids.”
“So, going back to where my mother steps onto the patio into the crowd of friends. At that moment, I feel a tremendous surge of energy around me, saying to myself, ‘What? Wait! One, two, three, like me? Unborn?’ Then comes a surge of elation – me clearly hearing responses to my exclamations: one voice, ‘Hello! Can you hear me?’ overlaid by another, “Who’s that?’ and a third, ‘I hear someone.’ And me responding, ‘You can hear me?’ Three simultaneous responses: ‘Yes, I can.’ And all three of them, and me, fans watching a game at Fenway, the bottom of the ninth, Sox down three runs, a fan-favorite stepping in and, off the third pitch, a fastball, our hero launching a walk-off grand slam. We jumped about deliriously.
“When I heard my mother say our excitement was disturbing her, I asked the girls to settle down. And they did and we talked. We quickly discovered that the three girls could each talk to me but not to each other; that all of them could hear me but not each other.
“Then one of them needed a nap. A good idea, the others thought. And they slept. But not me – I wanted to listen to the adults.
“Josh Morgan asked my mother, ‘Why were you frightened just then?’ My mother had taken a seat by the pool and the others joined her, some sitting. My father brought her a large glass of iced lemonade.
“‘I don’t think frightened is right. No, not frightened. Surprised. Never felt movement before. Kind of early, isn’t it?’ She put the cold lemonade glass to her forehead.
“‘It’s ahead of time, yeah. But not so strange that it should spook you out,’ Laura Billingsley.
“My father, ‘But there is something bizarre to entire event, don’t you think? The babies jumping at the same time; all of them stopping when Lorraine wished they would?’
“‘Not coincidence?’ my mother slouching.
“‘No. I don’t think so,’ father.
“Eileen Morgan, ‘I agree with Michael. The jumping stopped when you wished it would. And remember that it all began when you stepped onto the patio.’
“‘So we’re thinking Lorraine caused this?’ my father.
“‘No. Not Lorraine. Her cargo,’ Eileen, pointing her glass at my mom’s belly.
“My baby?” Lorraine.
“‘Absolutely. In Luke. Remember? When Elizabeth and Mary meet, John the Baptist, unborn, leaps in her womb and Elizabeth exclaims, ‘Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.’
“My father, ‘Can we change the subject? I’m beginning to feel creeped out: too much Rosemary’s Baby.’
“‘No, Michael. I felt unsettled at that moment. But not creepy unsettled – awed more accurate, although I didn’t recognize it in the moment. Why did they stop when I said I was nervous,’ my mother.
“‘That’s easy. Your baby asked them,’ Eileen saying. Then I remember a long silence. When the conversation restarted, the talk was about the barbecue.”
For a couple of moments neither Dr. Mike nor Dee spoke until Dee, “My lips are dry. I’m talked out.”
“Well, it’s time for us to stop, anyway. This time next week? Let’s meet in my office from now on.”
“Downtown Boston. Is that a problem? You’ll be going home soon.”
“Not at all. Okay,” Dee. They got to their feet and shook hands, “I like having someone secular to share my experiences with.” Dee followed Dr. Mike to the door where he put his hand on the knob, stopped, ran his tongue over his lips, and turned back to Dee. He started to say something but turned back to the door, opening it.
“Dr. Mike? Share your thoughts?” Dee to his back.
He paused, closed the door, turned facing Dee, pain on his face. “I am probably violating my ethical canon here but time has run out and at this moment you seem to be an almost literal deus ex machina.”
“Explain?” she taking his elbow, leading him back into the library, where, one hand pulling his elbow to the chair she had just been sitting in, she used her other hand to gently push his shoulder, he succumbing to the chair’s welcome. Dee sat and, elbows on her legs, leaned into the space between them looking up at him.
Dr. Mike took a breath and shook his head, “I have a friend, a bunch of friends actually, facing a very bad situation,” rubbing his face in his hands, looking at her with tears in his eyes, acceding to her reach for his hand. “So wrong for me to lay this on you Dee, especially in your condition. But I do have a true X-file; and time has run out – almost.”
Squeezing his hand, “I’m listening.”
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