Conversations Among Friends


Brian W. Porter
We were naked on the torn backseat of my twelve year old Camry, well off the road and surrounded by trees, her head against my bare chest, her strawberry blond hair spread in my lap where her head had just been. In three months we would be married, a month after she turned eighteen, a way for her to leave her alcoholic and sometimes abusive father. I was on the waiting list for a one bedroom apartment in a decent neighborhood, a better place for a couple than the single room I rented now. Next month I would move in, I hoped, since I'd already paid the security deposit. She licked her lips. "You taste good. We'll have to do that again. Hey. Got a question for you. What about kids?" "Huh? What do you mean, what about kids?" "Do you want them?" "I don't know. I guess so. Haven't really thought about it." "Well I do. At least one." I thought for a moment. "Yeah. One ain't so bad. I was an only child most of my life." "I do not want to saddle any kid of mine with brothers like I had. Talk about jerks. Thought they could order me around, make me do what they wanted. Most of the time I didn't." "You want a kid now?" I asked. I wasn't ready. Not by a long shot. I had a barely over minimum wage job, with not many prospects for the future, although a friend had said he could get me on a decent paying construction crew. The pay didn't sound that great, but he got ten to fifteen hours of overtime every week, and that made a difference. Last time I saw him he said he could get me that job in a few years, maybe, but not now. My almost wife said, "I'm on the pill. What do you think?" She never answered questions directly. You always had to think on a slant to work out the answer. "I'd guess not yet." She smiled. "Not until we get on our feet, at least." "Well, what happens if something goes wrong, like the pill don't work. What do you want to do then?" "I don't know."

"Abortion?" "Hell no. I'd kill myself, first." That's a no. I agree with that. I don't especially like doctors. There are other options." "I don't want to talk about that now. Now that I've slowed you down, let's do something else." She threw one leg over both of mine so she straddled them while she faced me and rubbed our sensitive areas together. It was not hard to work out what she wanted. *** Five years later, I worked as a residential insulator, long hours as we forced cellulose into walls of older houses, one house each day five days a week. I had been working the second floor of a large farm house earlier that morning and noticed my antistatic line had come unhooked from the ladder. I reached for it and the static charge that had built up knocked me off the ladder, sent me more than fifteen feet through the air and the twelve feet to the ground. I think it knocked me out for a second or two, since I don't remember the flight. I was immediately reassigned to filling the blower to keep me at ground level. An hour later, about half way through the project, we broke for lunch. As we sat on the side lawn eating sandwiches and drinking soda, one of the mechanics said, "Shit, Chuck, that was a hell of a flight you took. You OK?" "Yeah, sure. No problems." "Hey Chuck," one of the others said, "you got a good head on your shoulders." "You sure about that, Steve? I did take flight today." As we all chuckled, Steve continued, "Yeah, well I'll take my chances. Look. My girl is pregnant." We all congratulated him on the upcoming birth, but I noticed he didn't look as happy as he should have if this was a good thing. He said, "We weren't planning on this. Want to be married first." I asked, "What happened?" "Hole in the condom. You know anything about abortion?" "Abortion? Can't blame you thinking about it, but it's not necessary you know, abortion, or anything really. What do I know? Not much. I know it's better than it was years ago when it was illegal back in the forties, and better than if the idiots down south in Washington make it illegal again. Ladies used to die back before abortion was made legal going to those back room places. At least the places are clean now, and the doctors competent most of the time." "Except up in Phili," George inserted. He followed Rush Limbaugh almost as if he was a God incarnate. "You don't want to kill the baby, Steve. That's a living breathing child. You don't want to commit murder." I said, "George, heart and brain activity don't start until after the first

trimester, if I remember correctly, Yeah, I heard about that one in Phili, but that's rare now. Used to be the norm, all you could find if you were looking, and women would go to them. But no more." "Unless Congress is stupid and outlaws it," one of the others said. "That wouldn't be stupid. Be the only right thing to do." "Shut up, George. Just because you say that doesn't make it so." "It's true. I've told you about how it's done." I said, "That's only one process that's not used all that often. It happens very late term and usually for medical emergencies. George, you listen to the spin and outright lies on talk radio and take it for truth because you refuse to look any further." "So why should I listen to you? You're pro choice." "Not really. It's just that the freedom to make a choice is the American way. You choose your religion –" "Christian," George interjected. "Anything else is wrong." "Not necessarily. There are many opinions, well, views about God. Muslim, Buddhism, Jew, Agnostic, Atheist, whatever. It's a choice that's guaranteed in the Constitution. In America you're allowed to choose. I can tell Steve what I think about abortion, but I cannot tell him what to do, or what to think." Steve asked, "So, what do you think about it, Chuck?" "Steve, I'll tell you. When Helen and I were engaged, we talked about it and decided abortion was not an option. For us. Then last year the pill didn't work, and as you know we now have a girl. Makes things harder, but I love them both to death. But that doesn't mean I can tell you what to do." "Why not?" one of the others asked. "Those idiots down in Washington do that all the time. You can do this, you can't do that. It's disgusting." I said, "Yeah, I agree. But just because something is right for me and my family doesn't mean it's right for Steve." I turned to Steve. "Dude, there are other options. Get online with your girl and check everything out, all the options, what each costs, everything. Make your own decision. If you decide to do it, go someplace good so you don't have problems." "Yeah, Steve. We got enough problems down in Washington." "And Dover." "Oh, good. What're they doing now. Sales tax?" "No, not that, not yet. But if you get a picture or video of a crime and turn it in, you get money. Littering, drunk in public, murder." "I could see that last one. You see a murder, yeah, you turn it in. But littering?" "Throw a butt on the ground and step on it and you get a fine if somebody takes a picture. Jesus." I said, "I'm telling you guys, Big Brother is watching, and his power is growing due to those idiots on the radio."

"You talking about Rush?" "He's one of them." "I like Rush." I know George. You need to stop listening to him and learn what's really happening in the world." That's when the supervisor came around the corner and said, "OK, guys. Time to get back to work." *** Other short stories, essays, and poetry from this author are available at *** Copyright 2011 Attribution Non-commercial No-derivs You may share this work with anyone in any way with the following provisions. You must share the complete work, including the title and this notice. You may not make any changes. You may not use this work commercially or accept payment without the written permission of the Author. Any and all rights and credit are held by Brian W. Porter.

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