(final edit before the proofreaders (he said). You can read the previous version here.
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Joni stood across Beacon Street from the Brookline Abortion Clinic staring at the sign’s red and gold lettering.
She shook her head in disgust. What betesticled marketing moron came up with those colors for an abortion clinic?
Two buses, one with a Boston’s Pro-Life Action Network banner and the other unloading Operation Rescue “sidewalk counselors”, formed a phalanx from the sidewalk to the clinic doors. Ever since John Salvi III opened fire here and at its sister clinic about a mile away, and now with most red states sending bus loads of safe sex refugees north, this stretch of Beacon Street became one of the safest most dangerous places in the greater Boston area. Police cars patrolled routinely. Male and female undercover cops chatted up anyone and everyone walking anywhere near the clinic.
The Supreme Court had created a safe zone for people wanting to enter and exit the clinics and this safe zone included quite a bit of the sidewalk and street surrounding the clinic. People on their way elsewhere learned to stay on the other side of the street, thus the only people nearing the clinic were those having business there.
Such as Joni, today.
Joni held a pencil in her hand as if it were a cigarette. She lifted it to her lips each time she felt her breakfast of barely thawed Brüdermann’s frozen pizza and cold Starbucks coffee coming back on her.
She belched. “Ugh. Morning sickness is one thing but you didn’t do yourself any favors here, Levis.” She checked her palm for escaping pieces of pizza. “I should never have given up smoking.”
Sitting in a safe haven of a sidewalk bench across the street from the clinic, Joni watched an obese woman with a video camera and two small children in tow. The children orbited the woman more like satellites than offspring; the woman was large enough to warrant a small planetary system of her own.
All the other people, all the other protesters and contesters, all the police, all the counselors, all the passersby and traffic in between, evaporated until only this one woman, video camera in hand, her greater and lesser moons of Phobos and Deimos orbiting via unseen gravitational umbilicae, spun away from the others, walking and talking her way into a universe of her own.
She held vigil under an ash tree, a cat waiting for a specific bird to arrive. She kept telling her kids to stay there. At least it seemed she was. She might have been saying, “Stay here until I move five feet away. No more. Five feet, do you hear? Then come running after me. Scream for me. Clutch onto my skirt, climb onto my coat, pull me down into the earth with the weight of you. Make sure you’re loud and obscene enough for all others to see. We are here to show them what it means to be a mother.”
Joni’s hand went to her stomach. She couldn’t feel any life there yet. “Small comfort.” Instead she felt the pizza and coffee making plans for a violent escape. She wanted to be prepared.
How did the woman pick her targets? Did she only go for women like herself? Like herself in what way?
Joni watched her walk back to her ash tree after each encounter, back to the bulging, plastic shopping bags she dropped there. She seemed confused by them, unsure of all they contained, some kind of alien cornucopia. One held extra video cameras, extra batteries, a voice recorder, an extra mobile, a portable hand-crank phone and USB port charger, and pictures her children waved at those who sought entrance. The next held sandwiches and Cokes, Hostess peanutbutter-cheese crackers, Twinkies and M&Ms, a thermos and extra cups. The last held disposable diapers, clothes, towels and a Gladlock bag of moistened handiwipes.
She had come prepared. Maybe Joni could bum a plastic shopping bag and a handiwipe when the pizza and coffee made their escape?
“Fuck that. Does she have a cigarette?”
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