Sweet Thyme Baby – 40

 

Copyright © 2012 by Drusilla Campbell. All Rights Reserved.

40

(Start at the Beginning of Sweet Thyme Baby)

(Click here to read Section 39 first)

 

In the plum tree garden in front of their house, Pinkus and George were arguing. Pinkus blamed Dee for the tension between them. If she would only stop carping about Sweet Thyme, George would stop remembering what it was like to be in jail, and they could settle down and enjoy their dear baby boy.

 

“Why can’t you just relax? Dee said we should go to the police and we did. What more does she expect?”

 

“We went to see Winston, you mean.”

 

“Just because he’s a friend doesn’t mean he isn’t a perfectly good policeman. He looked in the computer, and now we can tell Dee there’s no little brown baby been reported missing anywhere in the United States, not like ours anyway.” Pinkus put down his tea cup and lifted his arms over his head, reaching to embrace the blue sky visible through a lace of plum tree leaves. “He’s ours, George, our own personal miracle.”

 

“Think about poor little Hamish Whitby. One minute he was here and the next minute…gone.”

 

“He’s probably asleep under a toadstool somewhere. He’ll wake up and find this way home.”

 

“You just have to blink your eyes and it’s gone… All gone.”

 

“And that’s why we have to grab what we can while we can. Nothing lasts forever, George.” Pinkus hoped and prayed that Hamish would be found… but if he wasn’t? The terrible truth was that children were lost and died every minute, and Pinkus knew this better than George. Hadn’t he been a pediatric oncologist and watched boys and girls die ruthless slow deaths? He still had his license but he couldn’t do the work anymore. He’d seen enough death. “We have to live and love each other and be grateful for the gifts we’ve got. Like Sweet Thyme.”

 

“I got a bad feeling, Pinky. A real bad feeling.”

 

“Don’t be such an old woman! Nothing’s going to happen to Sweet Thyme.”

 

“I don’t want us to be hurt, Pinky.”

 

“Well, who does? Listen here, just as sure as you know one thing, I know another. Our baby needs us and he needs this garden.” Pinkus would go to his grave remembering the constellation of cigarette burns on Sweet Thyme’s round bottom. He imagined some poor woman, barely a girl and without a hope in the world, mad at the world, raging at the world and taking it out on her baby and knowing it was wrong to do it, wanting to save him and herself. “Someone knew he’d be safe here.”

 

George grunted and dug his heels into the lawn, pushing the glider back a little. With his chin buried in the folds of his neck he looked old, knuckled down and stubborn and hell bent on denying the chance, the remote possibility, that for once life might turn and smile in their direction.

 

“What about that little Hamish Whitby? How safe was he?”

 

Burned babies, vanishing boys. “It’s not the same thing. And anyway these things all happen for a reason.”

 

Another grunt.

 

During a six month leave of absence from the hospital, Pinkus tried to be a good husband and father, but time passed and he realized his discontent ran deeper than problems at work. If his then-wife, Lorraine, hadn’t had a best friend named Rosemarie, married to a vice cop who saw Pinkus in a bikers’ club one night, dancing with George, and if Phil hadn’t told Rosemarie who thought it was her duty to tell Lorraine, Pinkus might still be sneaking in and out of the closet, hating himself for being a coward and a phony. If Lorraine hadn’t taken his son, Ronnie, and the judge called him a pervert not fit to be a father, he and George would never have gotten together permanently, and George would have almost for sure gone back to robbing convenience stores, running numbers and dope, in and out of jail. It was the worst time of Pinkus’s life and every day since he’d thought about his son and missed him. Now here was Sweet Thyme, put in his life so he would have yet another chance. Someday Ronnie would come looking for his father and Pinkus would introduce him to Sweet Thyme. He’d say, “You have a brother.”

 

“The universe is good, George. It curves. Toward love.”

 

Sissypuss jumped onto Pinkus’s knees and looked at Sweet Thyme.

 

“Don’t let him near the baby,” George said. “Cats smother babies. It happens all the time.”

 

“That’s an old wives’ tale. If it’s happened ten times in the whole history of cats and babies I’d be surprised. I don’t get why you have to be so negative.”

 

George looked sour. “My experience is, when things get rough, folks take the easy way out.” He poked his index finger at the air between them. “So what’s the easy way out for Dee? She’s shut down tight like some missile silo. Top secret.” George’s heels tore up divots in the lawn. “What do we know about people in Ukraine and those other places? They say they’ve disarmed but how do we know they’re not lying. Sky could be full of bombs tomorrow and we’d just be sitting here.”

 

“Good Lord, George, listen to yourself.”

 

Pinkus knew what was coming. Next George would go to bed with a migraine and listen to those old Edith Piaf songs over and over. Pinkus wanted to grab his big shoulders and shake him until the good sense bubbled to the top. They did not need to know facts about Dee Larue, facts weren’t necessary. Pinkus could know someone without knowing where she was born or went to school or what she did before their lives intersected.

 

“We know Dee like I knew right away that you were the man for me.” The racket of heavy metal music, the neon glare over the bar, and the smell of beer and piss and god-knows-what-all just disappeared when they danced. It didn’t matter that George had two black eyes and his lower lip was swollen up like a pillow. Pinkus took one look at him and knew. When people were good, Pinkus just knew.

 

“Yeah, well,” George said, “You can’t be right all the time.”

 

Copyright © 2012 by Drusilla Campbell. All Rights Reserved.

 

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