Post 65: Excerpt from The Rooming House Diaries

The second novel by Bill Mathis will be published in August 2019 by Rogue Phoenix Press. Available for preorder through Amazon as eBook or paperback around mid-July, 2019.

Diary 2

Mae Sawicki

Born: January 3, 1900, Chicago   Died: April 1, 1980, Chicago

Diary found scattered throughout Ledger Two.

I gotta start writing stuff down. Maybe getting some of it on paper will keep it from constantly running through my mind. Keep me from exploding at Hank or the kids or running down the street, screaming at God. What kind of God gives a woman a baby at forty-five? Nine years after her last one. After she’s already a grandmother? What kind of God doesn’t provide a woman that old with extra patience? A huge dose of understanding? A sense that you love this one the same as you loved the first nine? A sense that, somehow, this baby knows I didn’t want him and has been fighting me since he could move in my belly?

Tommy, Tommy, oh, my Tommy. This kid was big and kicked the hell out of me for five months. I thought I had Esau and Isaac down there. It got so bad, I went back to the doctor, the one who first told me I was pregnant. I’d never gone to a doctor for regular care, always a midwife. This time, even the midwife wasn’t sure if I had two or not. She’d never seen a baby so active.

“There’s only one, he’s big and I’m concerned about your age and the stress you’re under after your recent tragedy.” That’s what the doctor told me. Next, he said, “I want you to keep visiting me and have this baby in the hospital. Also, we may have to induce it early.”

I liked him, even if he was Jewish. He came over from Poland when things got bad before the war. I said, “Can’t you take him now, Doc? I know it’s a boy. It feels like I got Joe Louis and Rocky Graziano in the ring going at it nearly full time.”

He laughed, made me start seeing him every three weeks. Which didn’t help at all, other than the kid fought his way out two weeks early and still weighed nine pounds, four ounces. I even needed stitches. Can you imagine needing stitches after your tenth kid? By that time, they should fall out from passing gas. They kept me in the damn hospital for five days, treated me like an invalid. The nurses even joked if they kept me much longer, Tommy would walk home on his own. He grew like a weed in a crack, and just as stubborn, too.

Hank’s trying. He really is. I can tell he has the same feelings I do. The ones we won’t talk about. Hank’s like his dad was, the old man. Always liked babies and kids. Only this time, it’s different.

Once, after I found out I was pregnant, Hank and I talked. Just once. Near to four months along, after Patricia, my big mouth daughter, told me you don’t get fat from menopause and get to the doctor. Hank and I both cried over me being pregnant.

Finally, he said, “Maybe God’s giving us a replacement for John.” We both broke into sobs, so hard, we had to hold each other up.

Our son, John, was killed November 3rd, 1944. Japanese attacked Saipan. The bastards lost, but so did our John. I musta got pregnant that month. What kind of God allows your oldest son to die in a war and lets you get pregnant when you should be in menopause? While grieving your dead kid? I don’t think Hank figures Tommy is God’s replacement for John, either. It seems more like something the devil would do. What the hell did we do to deserve that?

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