Monsey, New York


I'M PREGNANT," said she.

"Oh?" said he.

"And you are..."

"The father, no doubt."

The decision took less than a second. The emotion was suppressed.

"To New York?" said he.

"Whatever's best," said she.

"To New York."

"Probably would be a good kid," said she.

"Yeah," said he.

"That's absurd," thought he, "nobody but nobody gets pregnant anymore."

Said he, flourishing his hand poetically, "The drive to New York is not unpleasant. If one goes at the right time, one may see the sun rise over the upstate hills, dispelling Wordworthianly, the infinite claws of night from the snow."

"Yeah," said she.

"And the best part about the Monsey Clinic is that you don't ever have to go into the city. Take the Tappan Zee Bridge, towards Spring Valley, right at the second light, your first left and you're there...Here, I'll write it out for you."

"Thank you," said she.

It was a four hour drive down bleak turnpikes, turnpikes bleak because the night was still upon them; a four hour drive of uncomfortable phrases and strained laughs.

"Hope everything comes out allright," said he.

"Fuck you," said she.

"Not again, please."

"You can't laugh."

"If one doesn't laugh, one goes insane."

She was silent. The sun rose over the upstate hills.

MONSEY MEDICAL CLINIC stands, rough wood shingled, in a kosher neighborhood which was able to fight the building with principle but not with capital. It is an obscene building, obscene in its newness, obscene because even in its newness and wealth, it brought disgrace to the slum neighborhood. Inside, it smelled like a veterinarian's.

"If we park here, they may tow your car."

"Yes," said she, "they may."

The waiting room was small and from couch to couch, filled. There were ladies with nervous lovers; ladies with the makeup and hairstyles of streetwalkers, bored, as if this was but one weekly visit among many; ladies middle aged and unmarried, with sad eyes, perhaps realizing they were losing the strings which bound their lovers: young girls, just eighteen, loud and obnoxious, travelling in hordes, cheering the one in trouble and "we hitched from Boston, only took us four hours," said to no one in particular. There were ladies married, too old to bear the children, frightened, and ladies, twenty or twenty-one, trancelike, their emotion displaced. One by one, the ladies left, going into the small room to surrender the necessary data and pay the money.

"You pays your money and you takes your chances." he thought.

THE OPERATION took only eight minutes. Eight minutes to undo what twenty minutes did. "It's a fair price," thought he. The recovery took up to three hours.

He read the magazines, leafed through a photo history of the Clinic, "Monsey Medical Center was founded in...And here is our driver. He transports patients to and from LaGuardia Airport." The picture of the driver was missing. His bus was there, but he was gone. "Probably wrecked," thought he. There was a poster on the wall; it read, "Would you be more careful, if it happened to you?" It had a picture of a young man above the caption, his shirt stuffed with pillows. Thought he, "What can one expect from doctors who look between women's legs all day."

Time moved slowly. The young man across from him traded magazines. This man wanted to talk, but he couldn't bring himself to.

He thought, "I shouldn't be worried about hunger, not now," But he couldn't help it. He was hungry. She had said to him, near tears, "I am so sorry to do this to you." He had wanted to say, "It's not your fault," but he hadn't.

Three hours and the magazines had been read. The boy opposite him said, "Did you come from Boston?"

"Yes," said he, tired of the silence. He had grown to like his silent friend. He had watched him closely.

"How did you come?"

"By route 95." He wanted to say, "Is it different with you, does it hurt you, because I am confused that it does not hurt me." But he didn't. Silence, and he felt empty all of a sudden.

"Mr. Paterson."

The boy opposite him arose. "Good luck," he said. It was out of place.

"It's so easy, he thought, "You do it, she is, you come to New York, and she isn't anymore. All in eight hours." It's so easy," he thought, "that if I was rich, perhaps I would do it more often." He felt empty. "Eight minutes," thought he "is a fair price, for extracting that clodded tissue."

She had said to him, "When a woman finds out she is pregnant, she should be happy, and I can't afford to be."

"It's so easy no right or wrong," thought he. "Perhaps when they call me, they'll give me a cigar saying. 'It would have been a boy.'" He suppressed the thought.

He would wait a few more minutes and she would be out. She would not be pregnant, there would be no cigars, but she would not be pregnant.

"No," he thought, "there will be no cigar, and there will be no child anymore. It would have been a good kid."

"Let's not," he thought "get melodramatic." And he waited for his emotion to return: because he knew it would.