24 May 2008

more from the abortion files

so i spent about half an hour yesterday, and half an hour the day before that, on the phone with a woman who was early in her pregnancy and broke but determined to have an abortion as soon as possible. C's house is in foreclosure; she relies on others for transportation and her phone is being shut off this weekend. she shares custody of her daughter with her ex-husband, but fears her ex would somehow use an abortion against her in custody court if he found out, so she can't ask him for financial or practical support. the dude involved in the pregnancy is her on-again, off-again sexual partner, but more importantly is her friend of 13 years; he helped C raise her daughter for two years when things were bad with the ex-husband. he's said he can loan her some money for the abortion because she has none. she has lived in her town, "in the suburbs, but in the boonies", for a year and doesn't have many friends. all of this she told me on thursday. we hung up with the understanding that she would call her friend to find out how much money he could loan her and then call me back.

on friday when she calls me she is crying and panicked. the dude, her friend, is being weird. he told her to stop calling him, that if she kept pushing him he wouldn't give her any money at all, that if she called him at work again he would break her legs. he has never spoken to her like this before. she tells me he's patching things up with his ex-wife, who would leave again with the kids if she knew about his relationship with C. apparently C tried some ill-advised blackmail: "i don't know why you're making this so difficult, all i have to do is make one phone call [to tell all to his ex-wife]". he responded with "you try that and we'll see what happens to you". she says that if it weren't for having to depend on him right now, she would call the police, and she doesn't want to speak to him ever again when this is over. but she needs him to drive her the 25 miles to the clinic. at the end of their argument, she says, he suddenly became cooperative, saying "ok, i'll drive you there, sure". she is worried he's going to leave the clinic while she's there and never come back. i'm worried she's not even going to make it to the clinic. is he going to show up and beat her? try to drive her off a bridge? she mentions maybe he's thinking of pushing her out of the car to cause an inexpensive miscarriage.

i'm about to ask C if she can tell someone of her fears, maybe the neighbor she's mentioned, when she says that she has already made plans to tell the neighbor where she's going and with whom, and then to drop it into conversation with the dude that someone will be checking for her return. we come up with more plans: of the two hundred dollars she has told him he must come up with, she's going to reserve fifty for a cab ride home in case he doesn't show up. i will send the clinic a pledge covering the rest. and she's going to call me when she gets to the clinic, whether from her doomed cell phone or the clinic's front desk. both nervous but not sure what more we can do, we hang up.

i go out for a very late lunch and come back to find a message from her: "what if he wants to come in and pay the $200 himself, then how will i be able to pocket the cab fare?". good question. i call the clinic, explain the situation, ask if they can set aside the fifty from their payment if the dude does come in to pay. they are surprisingly quick to understand, don't act like i'm asking something weird of them: sure, we can put fifty in the safe with her name on it, she can come back and ask for it if he splits; i'll make a note of it in her chart right now. so i call her back, she doesn't pick up, i leave two messages because i'm nervous. thank god i'm working this saturday, i can be at my phone during her appointment.

so today is saturday, her appointment is at noon. she calls me in the morning and i tell her the clinic is cooperating. she says she'll call me when she gets there, as per the plan. then she doesn't. it's noon, one o'clock, three o'clock, five o'clock. no C. it's past time to go home. the building is closed monday, it's national don't go to work day. i'll call the clinic tuesday and see what they can tell me then. maybe she's fine. i turn off the lights and leave.


a car is idling in the parking lane in front of our building's entrance, a woman with short hair is holding a camera in the rolled-down window, she sees me see her and looks. looks at me some more when i look at her some more. i'm confused, worried, but there are a dozen floors to our building and my employer is on just one of them. she could be taking pictures for anything. our front desk "security" is crap though. i tell myself not to borrow trouble.

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