It took me a few seconds to put it together.
“BB, you’re pregnant?” I asked, concerned more than shocked.
“Please don’t tell anybody, Matt. If this gets out and my parents find out, they’ll kill me.” She was pleading more than asking.
“BB, I don’t know how he does it, but Jesse Savorié can make all this a lot better.” I had sincerity in my voice born from truth.
“I need money for the abortion. When I told Kerry, he said he didn’t have it and that I was going to have to come up with it myself.” She was starting to panic. “Can you help me raise it?”
“I can do better than that. I’ll introduce you to Jesse,” I said with satisfaction.
“I know who he is,” she said like a deflating balloon. “Everybody knows who he is. I’ve seen him around. He is a little weird, isn’t he? Besides, how can he help?” She sounded down on this idea.
“You’ve got to trust me on this one.” I got very stern and very serious. “Meet him after school today, and you’ll have the answers.”
BB didn’t say anything; she just nodded her head, sighing.
* * *
I told BB to meet Jesse behind the fieldhouse at two thirty. There were some chairs under a canopy there so the coaches could have a place to escape from football and contemplate other things, like where they were going to find a job next year.
I briefly told Jesse about BB, and this is where he suggested she meet him. He didn’t ask for details, and I didn’t give him any other than I thought she should meet with him. He just looked into the distance as I saw him do many times before.
“She is about to receive a wonderful blessing,” he said with that same wry smile a teacher has which always precedes a lesson that the soon-to-be student will never, ever forget.
“Take it easy on her, would you, Jesse? She’s been through a lot,” I said, kindly. I have been on the other end of his lessons, and I know they can leave a person shaken.
“It’s not up to me, I’m afraid. She will be given the blessing she needs. This is all I know. I only ask for the blessing that is necessary, and it will be glorious.” Jesse was beaming.
I knew that look, and I knew two things: BB would never forget what was about to happen, and it was not going to seem glorious at the time. I didn’t envy Miss BB. In fact, I was afraid for her because I had a feeling this one was going to be tough. I prayed she would be tough enough to endure it.
* * *
BB did reluctantly make her way to the canopy behind the fieldhouse and found Jesse reclined in one of the chairs. She really didn’t know why she had gone up there. She was hoping Bones would have come to her before now with the money and everything would be fine. But he hadn’t, and since she had no other plan, why not see if Jesse had some money she could borrow?
“Hi, Jesse. I guess I’ll just sit down here and we can talk?” BB wasn’t sure about anything at this point.
“If you wish.” Jesse stood up and offered BB a chair, then sat beside her.
“Matt told you about my problem and what I need, I guess?” BB was hoping that Jesse already knew.
“Only that you need a blessing,” Jesse answered quietly, looking into BB’s stressed eyes.
“Then you don’t know that I’m pregnant, and I need money for an abortion.” BB was emotional and angry that she had to repeat it again to someone she didn’t know well.
“Is that all? This is no problem at all, BB.” Jesse reclined back in his chair and put his hands behind his head, locking his fingers as if he had heard it might rain Tuesday.
“You’ll help me then?” BB was sounding much more enthusiastic. Maybe this guy can help, she thought.
“Of course. You will receive everything you need.” Jesse turned his head toward BB and gave her a reassuring smile.
“The quicker I get it out of me, the better. I don’t want it in me five seconds longer than necessary. You don’t know how I’ve worried about this. Kerry ran off and pretty much told me to take care of it by myself. Man, you really don’t know somebody till something bad happens to you.” The nervousness of the moment made BB babble.
“No, once you get to know someone, you look at them totally different.” Jesse peered at BB, who silently stared back at the strange way Jesse had said what he just said.
“So how do we do this, Jesse?” BB was anxious to get the money.
“Go to the park. You will meet someone there that you know. She will help you out of your problem.” Jesse turned his head away but was still reclined like it was no big deal.
“The park, now? You mean right now? Somebody I know will help me? Who? I mean, I’ll know her when I see her?” BB was confused over the strange instructions. “You will set this up, right?”
“It’s already set up. All you have to do is go and receive everything you need.” Jesse got up and left.
BB decided she had no choice but to go to the park and meet this mysterious person that she somehow knew and get from her what she needed to help her out of this dilemma. Oh, brother! she thought.
* * *
BB drove to the park alone. The park was always empty this time of year and especially this time of day. Good. The less people around, the better. It was peaceful and beautiful in the fall. She wondered, How could anybody have problems on a day like this?
She wandered around the park a couple of times, which didn’t take long as the park in Jess Rulam was only about ten acres, tops. She saw no one. She thought that weirdo Jesse had sent her on a wild goose chase just to make fun of her. Just what I need.
She turned and started back for her car. Then she saw what appeared to be a four-year-old little girl sitting on one of the benches by herself. No adults were anywhere in sight. She wondered how she could not have seen her when she passed the bench just a minute earlier.
Why is the little girl sitting by herself? Where are her parents? What kind of people would leave their little girl by herself? The more she thought about these things, the angrier she became, and the more curious.
She approached the little girl, who suddenly saw her coming. The little girl grinned from ear to ear. She’s acting as if she knows me, but I have never seen her in my life.
“Mommy!” the little girl shouted joyously.
She immediately and enthusiastically hopped from the bench and dashed as fast as her short little legs would move, even skipping a time or two. She passionately embraced BB’s leg. She squeezed it so tightly, BB felt the loving little girl tremble with the strain of it.
“Mommy?” repeated BB, startled by what she had just heard.
“Listen, sweetheart.” BB extricated herself from the little girl’s powerful embrace and knelt down so she could look the confused little girl in the eye. Perhaps she looked somewhat like the little girl’s mother. If the little one got a good look at her, she’d see that BB was not her mother at all.
“I’m not your mo …” BB stopped in mid-word, as something took hold of her senses. She did recognize this little girl, or at least she looked familiar anyway. She stared into the little girl’s blue eyes with wonderment.
She looks like me, or at least the way I looked when I was a little girl.
“What’s going on here? What’s your name, sweetie?” BB held the little girl’s arms firmly. She didn’t want to acknowledge to herself the truth. It temporarily made her angry.
“Why, Mommy, you know that my name is DD,” she giggled, surprised her mommy was such a dodo head.
“DD? How did you get a name like that?” BB was puzzled the little girl had such a peculiar name.
“You are such a dodo, Mommy.” DD put her tiny finger against her mother’s nose and gently tapped it.
“You said that your name was BB because your mother called you Beautiful Baby and since my name was Dory you called me DD because I’m your Dory Darling. Don’t you remember, Mommy?”
BB remembered that at one time she liked the name Dory. She had not thought of Dory Darling though. A name like DD suddenly made perfect sense. A sudden chill enveloped her very soul.
My God, this is my child, my baby—the baby I have inside me right now!
A thousand thoughts and a thousand emotions bottlenecked in her mind. She simply couldn’t process them all. Without warning, panic gave way to serenity, nervousness surrendered to tranquility, sadness disappeared, and simple joy permeated her every fiber. In a word, she was happy that she had such a beautiful little spitting-image of herself.
Her eyes suddenly saw through new lenses. The park looked different. The world looked different. And the darling little girl looked different—Dory Darling, DD to be exact. Through the new lenses, she saw her as DD, her loving little daughter. She loved her back.
“What do you want to do now, Mommy?” burst out DD, who started running this way then that way, so excited that her mommy was now with her. She didn’t know what to do first.
“What do you want to do, DD?” asked BB, chasing little DD playfully. DD screamed and giggled and tried to make her escape from her mother’s playful hands.
Little DD wasn’t quick enough though. BB gathered up her snickering little angel from behind and cradled her quivery, jingly, precious little body just like her mother used to do her, she remembered.
The exposed little nape of her neck was suddenly, inexplicably, and indescribably delicious. She had to have a nibble; she playfully gobble-gobbled on it tenderly.
It occurred to her why her mother used to do the same thing to her. It was simply too irresistible not to. She had a baby girl that she loved so much that the phrase I could just eat you up became crystal clear now. She wondered why she had never understood that before.
Then little DD extended her little dumpy index finger and placed it on her mother’s nose. She gently ran her finger down the front of it and softly across her two lips and stopped at her chin. DD’s big blue eyes followed the path of her own little finger focused into her mother’s eyes. Her big, moistening eyes and her two perfect little lips said, “I love you, Mommy.”
For that one moment in time, BB didn’t have any more problems—no tests to take, no boyfriends that disappeared at the first sign of trouble, no disapproving parents to hide things from, and most important of all, what seemed just moments ago to be a parasite sucking the very life out of her was now the most magnificent blessing ever bestowed on her. BB thought herself fortunate to be alive, and being alive was fantastic.
“Mommy, would you push me on the swing?” DD asked with her big puppy-dog eyes still peering deeply into her mother’s melting soul.
“Well, of course, sweetheart … I’ll race ya.”
BB pushed her daughter back and forth, back and forth. The perfect little profile of her innocent face turned to the side with exuberant anticipation of her mother placing her hands on her shrugging little shoulders; then push, and away she went, gliding gently through the warm Alabama autumn air.
“There’s the slide, Mommy. Let’s get on that. Let’s race. I’ll bet I beat ya this time, Mommy.” And they were off.
BB was almost running in place as she let her giggling, stumbling, giddily happy little DD stay just ahead of her on the race to the slide.
“I beat ya, Mommy! I won! I won! Mommy, can we do this forever?” BB thought it the sweetest voice she had ever heard.
She scooped up her daughter and scurried up to the top step. She placed the laughing little bundle between her legs. Time slowed down as they started down the slide.
A moment captured in time, slow time, still time, when BB saw the floating blond hair, the angelic smile, the innocence of the little one. She thought to herself, I made this out of my body; this came from me; and if I never in my life do anything again, I did something once that I’m proud of. How bad can I be, if I can do this?
BB placed her head against her daughter’s as they got to the bottom of the slide, and DD placed her hand against her mother’s head and nestled it in tight. She turned quickly and hugged with both arms around her mother’s neck and gently kissed her mother on the lips. Then she was off on another adventure with her mother following close behind, giggling almost as loudly as her little DD.
After thirty minutes or so, BB said to her tired bundle of love, “Let’s sit down on the bench for a little while. Mommy’s tired and needs to rest.”
“OK, Mommy. Sometimes mommies get tired and have to rest, don’t they?” said BB, all grown and prissy as she and her mom walked back to the bench.
“Yes they do, sweetie.”
“But they don’t ever let nothing happen to their girls, do they? ’Cause that’s what mommies do, ain’t it?” she asked with a little giggle at the end. “You won’t ever let nothing happen to me, will you, Mommy?”
“I’ll die before I let anything happen to you, angel,” BB said as they arrived back at the bench. She put DD in her lap as she sat down.
A single cloud temporarily blocked the sun and a gentle, slightly cooler breeze lightly lifted DD’s golden hair as BB lovingly admired the preciousness sitting on her lap.
“’Cause sometimes I have bad dreams that something bad is going to get me and I can’t find you anywhere, Mommy.”
“I will always be here for you, DD. Now and forever.” BB, filled with motherly instincts, gave her concerned daughter a tight hug of reassurance.
The sky was a little more overcast and the breeze picked up again. BB hoped it wouldn’t rain. She didn’t want this day to end.
“What would you do to keep something from getting me, Mommy? I get scared when I’m by myself, but I think, Now you ol’ DD, you stop that worrying ’cause you got the best mommy in the world, and she ain’t never going to let anything happen to her little girl. Ain’t that right, Mommy? That’s right, ain’t it?” She gave a little laugh of reassurance on the last sentence.
The quaintness of DD’s tender voice as she searched for assurance from her mother that she would always be there for her struck a very tender spot in BB’s heart. A stream of tears made their way down her cheeks.
The breeze turned into gusts. A plastic cup blew off one of the benches, and a paper plate whipped across the ground in front of them. BB held her daughter’s little blue dress down on her lap. The sky was getting noticeably darker.
“Would you hold me like I was your little baby girl again, Mommy? The way you used to when I was little?”
“Of course I will, sweetheart.” BB cradled her scared little girl into her bosom. She rocked back and forth like she was sitting in a rocking chair.
“That bad thing is trying to get me again. I can hear it. I have bad dreams about it, and it almost gets me sometimes, and I can’t find you anywhere, Mommy, and I’m afraid it’s going to get me someday. But you won’t let it get me, will you, Mommy? No, you won’t, will you? ’Cause you love your little girl, don’t you, Mommy?”
DD had raised her little head to see her mother nodding yes. Her big eyes were tearing up, and she nestled her head down in the protective bosom of her mother, the place where nothing bad happens to little girls.
The breeze was now a fairly strong wind. Debris swirled in tiny little eddies here and there. The cloudy darkness was ominous, and BB thought a bad storm was coming to put an end to their frolicking. She thought she heard a roaring sound in the distance. She couldn’t quite make out what it was.
“DD, this storm is coming quickly. We have to get out of here.” BB had to shout to make herself heard above the wind and the ever- increasing roar.
The two-foot-tall funnels whisked about the debris, and some of it dashed by her head.
“It’s the bad thing, Mommy. Do you hear it? It’s coming to get me again. Hold me tight. Hold me tight. Please say you will never let go of me. Please say it.” BB could feel her daughter’s tiny heart racing against her own chest. Her little arms clutched so tightly around her mother’s arm, it was starting to go numb.
“DD, I think it’s a tornado,” BB shouted. “We have to get to where it’s safe!”
The debris swirled more violently now. Some of it was sucked high into the air. The roar was much louder.
“We can’t get away from here, Mommy. I try and try, but I can’t get through nowhere! I’m scared, Mommy! Hold me! It’s going to get me, ain’t it, Mommy? Promise, promise me you won’t let it get me!” BB took hold of her trembling daughter’s shoulders and peered deeply into her frightened eyes. They desperately searched for some kind of reassurance from her mother. She would not let the bad thing get her.
“DD, I will never let anything happen to you, ever. I love you with all my heart, DD. We are going to stay together forever, I promise.” She embraced DD passionately and stood up with her nestled on one shoulder and said into her sweet little ear, “Let’s run to my car and get out of here.”
BB ran with her daughter clutched against one shoulder toward her car. She frantically wanted to get away from the quickly approaching tornado. Its roar was now almost deafening. She dodged tree limbs, trash cans, and all manner of debris. It was becoming more dangerous every second.
She saw the spot just ahead where she had entered the park, but something was wrong. She could clearly see through the swirling dust, paper, leaves, and an occasional piece of tin, that a thick piece of pinkish-colored plastic had lodged against the two concrete columns, which served as the entrance.
A piece of plastic? I’ll bust through it if I have to, she thought.
As she got closer and closer to the plastic, she thought she could make out some red lines of different thicknesses traversing the plastic obstruction. She stopped and pressed her shoulder into the barrier. To her horror, she realized the barricade was not plastic but some kind of living membrane complete with blood-flowing veins. And what was even more horrifying to the now hysterical BB was that the ghoulish, vein-riddled membrane encapsulated the entire park!
BB turned frantically in time to see a limb ripped from a tree and be sucked straight up into the ominous black sky. The roaring sound coming from directly overhead was so deafening, that holding on to a coherent thought was as implausible as the living, veiny membrane that held them captive.
I must keep my head, BB thought. I must keep DD safe. She is all that matters to me right now. I love her so much, I will die before I let anything happen to her!
BB’s eyes fixated on an even more horrific scene. The whirling, sucking, roaring wind was now concentrated into one super-powerful spot far in the distance. She could make out that trees were being uprooted.
The ground would finally let go of its old friend it had fed and watered for years and years. First one root, then another, then another, and finally the century-year-old stalwart of the forest was forced to give up its hold on life to the relentless, powerful life-sucking vacuum and disappear into the black sky above. It was heading straight for BB and the trembling, sobbing, bundle of love.
BB turned to the sinewy membrane and pressed her free hand into it. Her hand penetrated six inches inward. She noticed one of the veins pulsating about every second or so as if being fed blood from a giant beating heart.
BB stepped back so she could see how far the membrane extended upward. She saw no end. She lay her free hand across one of the pulsating veins and felt the unmistakable sensation of coursing blood.
Things went momentarily silent; no wind, no roar of the vacuum, no clanging debris. One thought stopped time and space in their inevitable tracks; one thought was all she could hear—My God, I’m inside my own womb!
BB ran along the impermeable membrane, one hand clutching her daughter, the other brushing against it hoping to find some weakness. She had to find some tiny hole to get the adorably loving DD through to save her from the bad thing, which she now knew as the giant life-sucking vacuum.
Though she tried, BB could no longer fight the urge to cry. She cried uncontrollably with each stride. They were not quick enough to outpace the roaring, sucking sound of the rapidly approaching bad thing bearing down on them.
“I’ve already tried, Mommy. Every day I try to find a way out of here so I can be with you, but I can’t ever find you. Where do you hide every day, Mommy?” DD began to cry just like her ever-weakening mother.
A terrible dread enveloped BB. She was beginning to accept that there was no escape from this prison. She turned her head briefly to witness the inevitable life-sucking machine perform its evil, singular job, which was what it was invented to do: Take a beautiful thriving tree standing in all its glory one second and turn it into an empty hole in the ground the next.
The evil machine was inching closer and closer, step by step, only fifty yards away now. It had only one purpose, which BB now realized was to suck the life out of her precious little daughter, DD.
BB was running harder and harder, but moving slower and slower. Something was terribly wrong with her legs. Why was she getting so weak? She should be moving faster than this. What was wrong?
She seemed to be running in slow motion. The harder she tried, the slower she ran. As the ominous death machine closed in, she could think of nothing but her daughter. Her crying intensified with each passing thought of DD.
She peered over at DD, who undulated back and forth with each of her slowing strides. Her little head was turned first toward the bad thing, and then toward her mother. Her big blues eyes were saying, I love you, Mommy, I’m scared. Minutes earlier, they were as clear as a June morning and now conveyed the unholy look of terror.
“Run faster, Mommy. Run faster! The bad thing is going to get me! You promised me, you promised you wouldn’t let it get me, Mommy!” The words coming from her pleading daughter should have made her move faster, but to BB’s horror, she was running slower still.
BB screamed, “Stay away from her! Stay away from my daughter! Stay away from my baby! You’re not going to get her, you bastards, no!”
A trash can lid came crashing at BB’s feet. She tried to hurdle it but was so exhausted and weak that she tripped and fell instead, spilling DD headfirst onto the ground.
DD flipped end over end a couple of times and came to a rolling stop. She raised her head and sat up just in time for her weary mother to see her eyes become the size of silver dollars. The suction from the vacuum dragged little DD along the ground; she was sitting up and screaming at the top of her shrill voice, “The bad thing’s got me, the bad thing’s got me! Don’t let it get me!”
BB stood up on her wobbly knees and lunged at her screaming child, but the wind moved DD an inch out of reach. BB tried crawling as fast as her weary legs and arms would pull her. She screamed with half-filled lungs, “Not my, baby! Please, God, don’t let them take my baby!”
The doomed little BB stayed inches from her mother’s outreached fingers.
A sudden gust sped DD away. With a thud, her crumpled tiny body slammed against a tree.
Lying on the ground, completely spent of the last drop of energy, BB looked through the haze of swirling debris and the wavy mist of half-consciousness. The giant vacuum was directly over her little DD, her feet caught in the fork of the large oak tree she had bounced off of a minute earlier. She was suspended by the wind of the giant vacuum pulling her violently upward. The ravenous wind pulled off her little blue dress and sucked it into the black sky with a thup sound.
BB thought if she could manage to get to her feet, she might somehow, someway, miraculously climb the tree and pull her terrified daughter to safety.
She pushed mightily against the cold, hard ground, but her energy and now her hope was gone. All she could do was witness the horror of what was to happen next in helpless anguish. It would be a scene that would never, ever leave the recesses of her weary mind.
BB rolled over onto her back and screamed until nothing came out from her spent lungs. The only sound she could hear was the relentless pleading of a little girl saying, “Don’t let the bad thing get me, Mommy. I love you. Don’t let it get me!”
* * *
The bright Alabama autumn sun was somewhat painful on BB’s eyes as she tried to open them. She was lying on her back in the middle of Jess Rulam Park. She squinted. She sat up as the realization struck her. She looked down at her tattered clothes. One shoe was missing, her blouse was torn, and she was covered in cuts and bruises.
The distinct taste of her own blood was in her mouth, and she could feel a large bulge on her forehead. She looked around the park, and everything was the same as when she had arrived. The trees were not disturbed. There was no roaring sound. No wind whatsoever whipped around, and no eerie membrane held her captive.
She screamed, “DD!” She looked down at her half-exposed stomach and put both hands around her midsection. She remembered DD and felt her love. BB felt joy for the world.
* * *
BB entered the fieldhouse where Jesse was working after school. She walked in with her clothes tattered and wearing only one shoe. She was battered and bruised from head to toe. Jesse was standing in the hallway staring at BB as she approached. BB stopped, looked deep into Jesse’s eyes, and gave him the most passionate hug she had ever given another human being. They wept w
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