Shall We Review?
Bobby and Genna are rushing to the hospital so Genna can deliver their daughter.
End of review!
Let’s hope Billy/Bobby can begin his stint as a father in a peaceful manner.
But don’t bet on it.
Shall we peek in and see what’s happening?
At the Hospital
St. John’s Medical Center, on East Broadway in Jackson, is a five-story monolith with all the personality of a closet. Outside the hospital is white and square angles. Inside it smells like an institution where sickness and death reign supreme.
I do not like hospitals. Never have. The only time I’ve gone to one, my old man bled out in the emergency room, and I was without a family. For those of you who like to nitpick no, I was not in one as an infant. My blessed mother gave birth to me in the living room of a fifth-floor walk-up in the Heights, back in New York, with cats screeching outside, sirens blaring in the distance and the ever-present smell of cat piss wafting from the floorboards.
So I wasn’t feeling a great amount of comfort as Genna was wheeled into the delivery room at ten-thirty pm, and my comfort level lessened considerably when I was introduced to a replacement doctor, our regular obstetrician evidently on vacation. This one looked like a recent high school grad.
“I assure you,” he said to me as the nurses prepared Genna, “your wife is in excellent hands. Now let us do what we do and get that daughter of yours out into the real world.”
I refrained from threatening him if he didn’t follow through on that assurance. Instead I looked at Genna, who smiled back at me and squeezed my hand.
“It’s out of your hands, Billy. You can’t fix this problem. I’ll be fine. I know you’re afraid but your secret is safe with me. Now think good thoughts and let’s get this over with. I can’t wait to fit into my old clothes again and have a glass of wine.”
Welcome to the World, Jade!
Two hours and fourteen minutes later the world was introduced to Jade Sofia O’Dowd. I wished she could use my real last name, O’Bannion, but that just wasn’t possible and really, what difference did it make? She was my daughter no matter the name, and she was a beauty, just like her momma, a caramel skinned heartbreaker who would have boys, and men, drooling for many years to come.
I was a daddy!
The nurses washed Jade off, checked all the vitals, and handed her to Genna. I’ll tell you what, man: Genna was, at that moment, the most beautiful woman on the planet, and she was holding the most adorable baby ever seen, and this crazy Mick bastard was luckier than he had a right to be. True story!
Genna had decided on the name Jade after several of my attempts proved futile. The middle name, Sophia, was my pick, chosen in honor of my maternal grandmother, a red-haired Irish hellion named after some opera singer…..long story, not worth the time to tell it.
I told Genna I was going to spend the night at the hospital with her and Jade. She assured me I was not.
“What are you going to do here, Billy, threaten anyone and everyone who isn’t as enamored with Jade as we are? I need to sleep, as does our daughter, and you can’t help either of us do that. No, lover, you go home, get some rest, and come back tomorrow. I’m sure they’ll release me in the afternoon. Now kiss me and get out of here, please. You’re making the nurses and doctors nervous with your threatening scowl.”
The lady had spoken. I gave her a kiss, planted one on Jade and left the hospital feeling weighed down by responsibility but happier than hell.
“There ain’t nothing more important than family, Billy,” my old man used to tell me. “They’ll piss you off at times and even disappoint you, but family is family, and we O’Bannions take care of each other.” And he was true to his words. He was gutter-Irish, straight from the bogs of the Shannon region, educated on the streets of Ennis and later New York, a two-fisted brawler who loved ale with a scotch back. He was as loyal as the day is long and would defend friends and family to the death if need be. You couldn’t ask for a better man in your corner. I couldn’t have asked for a better father despite the concerns of some social service do-gooders when I was a kid.
Anyway, family is family, those words echoed in my brain as I drove home from the hospital. I now had a family and that family depended on me, not only to earn a living chasing dumber-than-dirt Herefords across the Wyoming valleys, but for emotional support. I was determined to be the best possible father to Jade, to teach her how to tie her shoes, to ride a bike, to read and write, to drive a car, appreciate Kurt Kobain, know right from wrong and take shit from no one.
But could I do that and continue to fix problems for other people?
Every single time I set out on trusted steed determined to right some wrongs, I was taking the chance I wouldn’t return home. In the past year alone I had been shot at by the Russian mob, the Mexican drug cartel and Genna’s ex-husband. I had rubbed shoulders with shotgun-toting religious nuts and crooked sheriffs and yes, I had managed to avoid injury so far, but how long can one man’s luck last?
Those thoughts weighed on me as I drove my pickup through the ink-black Wyoming night, dawn still an hour away, my headlights the only beacons of safety in a land where nature still has the upper-hand.
Back Home Again
I called my foreman and friend, Matt Stairs, when I got home, told him about my baby girl, told him I was going to grab a couple hours of sleep before work, and he told me not to even think of coming to work, to get some sleep and take care of my family.
There was that word again….family!
The wolves were howling as I slipped under the covers and closed my eyes, an early morning serenade from the local pack. I smiled as I pictured Genna holding our child, and I felt their love embrace me as my weariness overpowered the adrenalin.
I was being nudged. In my dream I was also sleeping, but sleep was restless because I was being poked, and I was annoyed as hell that the poking wouldn’t stop, and then my name was said, and said again, and from confusion dappled with sleep to crystal clarity I awoke, very aware that the dream had become reality. Sitting in a chair, at the side of the bed, holding a Remington shotgun, was none other than ex-Sheriff Wyman, a problem I thought I had fixed a couple months earlier.
Wyman had been shaking down the local businesses for protection money, a lucrative business for sure, crime without punishment or so he thought, at least until he shook down a friend of mine and I was asked to help. I did a little research, followed the sheriff around, found him in an affair, took pictures and one night, wearing a mask, held the sheriff and his wife captive, at which time I presented evidence of his infidelity to his wife. I then untied the wife and left her with a baseball bat. She then beat the good sheriff within an inch of his life. I also suggested to local and state officials that the sheriff was not an upstanding citizen, and dropped that same hint with the local and state newspapers.
Since that night the sheriff had been fired from his job, was facing indictment for crimes committed and had been out of the public view…..
“Hell of a way to wake up, don’t you think, O’Dowd?” he said to me, and for emphasis he poked me in the ribs with the shotgun.
There was no point in denying anything. I figured lies would just piss him off more than he already was.
“How’d you figure it was me, Wyman?”
“You were asking questions to the local newspaper reporter, you stupid shit. It really wasn’t that hard tracking you down. Turns out he doesn’t have a very high threshold of pain. I slapped him around a bit and he gave you up in a heartbeat. So here I am and, as you can imagine, I’m not too happy with you.”
That, I figured, was an understatement. The business end of the Remington was now pointed at my face and his finger was on the trigger. Worst of all, Wyman was smiling like a man with nothing to lose.
Which he was!
To Be Continued
Oh my goodness!
What can I tell you? Billy just has a knack for wading through the muck and mire.
I don’t know how he’s going to get out of this mess but one thing I’m certain of: when the going gets tough, the smart money is on the crazy Mick bastard.
See you next week!
2016 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)