My dad told my mother that it was not the right time in his life; that everything was happening too fast and he wanted to wait a few more years. So, when she started crying, he knew he had her convinced. They went together.
The small office was in a house on South Laughter Street, right downtown next to the municipal swimming pool.
Outside, a few feet from the road, was a white sign with red and blue letters, sticking out of the lawn like a cheap campaign slogan. Written in Old English font, fading in the sun, the first line was written in red:
“Cash only!” —
The second in blue:
“Your privacy is our priority.”
S. Laughter Street Clinic.”
Mother cried when she read it.
Inside a man took them into a surgical theatre and asked my mother to relax and lay on the table. My father didn’t want to stay in the room, but the doctor ordered him to stay with her and hold her hand.
“Murder is not easy, Mr. Frente.” He put on plastic gloves. “Your wife will need you to support her and take some of the blame once she realizes what she’s done. To stand at the morning mirror tomorrow, alone and before God, will not be like it was this morning. I hope you understand that.”
My mother started crying again.
“Why do you cry?” The doctor asked perplexed.
She said nothing, sobbing.
“Why is she crying?” He asked my father.
My father looked at my mother. “She doesn’t want to be a murderess.”
“Do you blame her?”
“No, but we can’t have a child now. We’re not ready. There’s too much at stake. My job, the money. There’s just to much to do before…”
The doctor nodded his head and went to his cabinet where he brought back a bible. Inside he had a page marked. “will you please read from the highlighted area before we begin?”
Pushing the bible away from him, he yelled. “What’s this?”
“Just read the last rights. At least you can do that much.”
“No. I will not. Now, you have the money. So, do your job, will you?”
“I’m afraid you don’t understand. sir. I’m not going to do it. I’m going to explain the instruments to you and you are going to do it. Anyone can do it once they are shown how.”
“What?” He couldn’t stand it anymore. “I paid you to do it. What do you think? I’m no doctor.”
“You don’t need a doctor. Doctors are for healing people. You need a clean room, clean instruments, and secret place to commit murder, which I have provided for you. You need me to stay quiet once you are finished killing this child and, since you have paid me very well to do so, I will. But I am not a murderer. No amount of money could persuade me to kill an innocent child.”
My mother was off the table and through the door before my father could reply. She did not return to the car, but instead called a taxi and only left the S. Laughter Street Clinic when it arrived.
She divorced my father and has never seen him again.
The first entry in my journal is this: my mother was convinced to have an abortion, but in the end it didn’t matter. I was still born.