By Trudy A. Martinez
The Judge gives Nellie his card. “Nellie,” he says, “Your husband doesn’t deserve a woman like you. I mean it. I want you to call me day or night if need be if Terry does not tow the line.”
Nellie nods and says, “Yes, I will.”
Peg and Don leave Peg’s automobile with Nellie so her and Terry will have transportation. Terry is freed into Nellie’s custody. He immediately tries to intimidate Nellie into doing what he wants to do. “We’ll be going back to the C.C.C.,” he says.
Nellie looks up at him, shaking her head she says, “No, Terry, we not be going back to the C.C.C… I be with child.” Pointing at him she adds, “ Ya be going to find a job, Terry.” Nudging him with her finger, she continues, “Ya be going to support us. We be leaving San Diego. We be going to Los Angeles.” She says.
“Los Angeles?” He asks. “Why Los Angeles?”
“Ya works there before, Terry.” She says. “Ya cans do it again.” She continues, “It’s been five years, but ya gots a good chance of getting back in good with the same company. And ya be going to try or I be calling the Judge and telling him ya not be cooperating.” She looks him straight in the eye and asks, “Ya wants me be calling the Judge, Terry?”
“No.” He answers. “But the Judge said . . .”
“The Judge gives me more instructions, Terry. I’ be doing what he says, not what ya say, “She adds. He says, “Terry needs to grow up. And he needs to take responsibility.”
“Dat whats ya be going to do. Just as the Judge says.” Nellie tells Terry. “Peg and Don finds us an apartment in Los Angeles. They stocks it with food and our belongings. Don gots ya job back for ya. Ya just gots to show up and work every day. Ya boss be reporting to the Judge, Terry.” She says. “If ya miss work, the Judge says a warrant be issued for ya arrest. He means business, Terry. He means business.”
They set up in the small apartment. Terry behaves and goes to work every day.
Six months pass.
Nellie gets closer and closer to her time. Labor starts with a bang one morning after Terry leaves for work. As the day progresses and the labor along with it, Nellie realizes she is in trouble. She falls. She can’t get up. She calls out, but no one hears her. “Help, somebody, please help me!” No one answers. Her neighbors are not home. She is alone. She continues to call out, “Help, please help me,” she cries. They do not have a telephone so she cannot call anyone.
When Terry arrives home from work, Nellie is on the floor moaning too weak to do much else; both Nellie and the baby are in distress. He runs to a neighbor, who just arrived home moments before, to ask them to call an ambulance.
He pounds on the door. When they answer he says, “Please call an ambulance. My wife is on the floor; she is in bad shape, the baby is coming; she is in a pool of blood,” he begs. “Call an ambulance. We are in apartment C,” he says. “Tell them to hurry.”
Terry goes back to the apartment to wait for the ambulance and to be with Nellie, who is in distress. “Hold on there Nellie, the ambulance is on its way.”
In the distance, the sound of the sirens can be heard. “They are coming, Nellie; they are coming.” The sirens stop. A few minutes later, a bang, bang, bang, is heard at the door.
Terry opens the door and points to direct the attendants to Nellie, “We got a problem here,” they say before entering. “There is no way we can get the stretcher in here and her out through this here door.” He says as he looks around for another exit. “We may need to take her out the window over there.”
The fireman, who arrives about the same time, goes to the window and with the help of another, they remove the window from the frame; and check to see if the stretcher will make it through. It will but just barely. “Okay, this way is clear for you. Bring her out.”
The firemen have exited through the window and are waiting for the attendants to bring Nellie on the stretcher through it for them to grab. They strap Nellie on the stretcher. It is a slow process as the stretcher barely fits and must be turned slightly with Nellie on it to make it through the sharp turn on the other side of the window. The only way she can make it through the front door is in a standing position. And that is out of the question in her current condition. It is a struggle getting the stretcher with Nellie on it through the window opening, but they make it. Now it is down the stairs and into the ambulance.
The traffic is heavy. It is that time of day. They leave with the sirens blaring. Traffic moves to the side of the road and lets the ambulance pass. The hospital personnel are waiting when they arrive at Los Angeles County General Hospital that hot August day.
The emergency room doctors access the situation and inform Terry. “All efforts will be made to save the baby,” the doctor says.
“What about Nellie?” Terry asks.
“She is not our concern at the moment. The baby is. Say your prayers. She is going to need them. Until the baby is safe, our efforts will not be on her. She may not make it in her condition.” The doctor points to the waiting room and asks Terry to wait there.
Terry finds a pay phone and calls Peg and Don, informing them of what is happening. They tell Terry, “We are on our way there.” They stop at a flower shop to pick up some flowers for Nellie on their way in.
Hours pass. Terry paces the hall and waiting room, waiting for word on the baby and word on Nellie’s condition. The doctor comes out to the waiting room. “Mr. Smith, you are the proud daddy of a healthy Nine pound baby boy,” he announces.
“How is Nellie?” Terry immediately asks.
“She is still with us. The next twenty-four hours will be crucial for her, if she makes it,” he says. “She lost a lot of blood.”
“May we see her? May we see the baby?” Peg and Don ask in unison.
“Yes, you may see them both. I’ll have the nurse bring the baby to her room,” he replies.
They all walk together to Nellie’s room. Currently, she is in a private room. They will be moving her to the ward tomorrow. She is not expected to leave the hospital for a few days. Peg enters the room alone; the guys are just outside the door. Peg asks, “How are you feeling, Nellie?”
“I needs to talk to ya alone, Peg” She says, “Can you ask the boys to stay outside for a minute.”
“Sure.” Peg answers. She catches the guys just before they enter and tells them to wait just a minute because she needs to talk to Nellie about women stuff.
They nod, and continue walking down the hall toward the babies.
Meanwhile back in the room with Nellie, Peg asks, “What’s bothering you, Nellie?”
“I wants out of here,” she cries. “They treat me like a slab of beef.” She explains. “When the baby be coming,” she hesitates momentarily, “They slice me open half way down my leg!” she exclaims. “It still be open. They never stitch me up.”
Peg goes over to her. She pulls back the covers and looks at the cut that extends down Nellies leg on one side. She takes a deep breathe. She says, “Nellie, I will be right back. I will take care of this right now.”
I must remind you, reader, Peg is 5’2” (if that), but she has a voice that carries for miles. And when she is mad, you might think she just got off a boat with a bunch of sailors who have been out to sea too long. The words that come out of that woman’s mouth will make a sailor blush.
The nurse did not know what to say to her after Peg let loose. Cutting Nellie’s leg is uncalled for. What did they expect to do? Give birth via her leg? The nurse excuses herself to get the doctor. That is who Peg wants to talk to anyways. She lays it on him. I am not going to repeat what is said. I think you can imagine that part for yourself.
One thing the doctor did right away was apologize. And he shot off some orders to the nurse to meet him down at Nellie’s room with the medical things he needs to finish what he should have done immediately after the baby is born. His excuse for not doing it immediately is because he did not think she is going to make it. And his main concern then is for the baby, not Nellie.
The main thing now is: it is being done. “Nellie,” the doctor says, “I am truly sorry to have neglected to care for you the way I should have. Please forgive me,” he pleads. “I was in such a hurry to deliver your baby alive, my knife cuts more than need be. I am truly sorry.”
Nellie nods; and wipes her tears away. She looks over at Peg and says, “Thank you, sis.”
The baby is brought to the room as soon as the doctor finishes stitching Nellie’s wound.