“Hurry up or we’re going to be late,” Woody couldn’t hide his impatience.
“I can’t find my necklace,” Delores searched the dresser. “You know the gold one with Jesus on the cross.”
“Might be easier if you didn’t live with your sister. This place looks like it got hit by a hurricane.”
“It’s only a one bedroom apartment,” Delores pulled a chain out of the drawer. “But Lucy opened her door to me and helped me find a new job where I could keep my clothes on. I didn’t have any other place to turn.”
“Oh baby, you could have moved in with me. You know that.”
“And live in sin? No way,” Delores pronounced as she fumbled with the clasp. “I’ve lived on the wrong side of the Lord enough for this lifetime. There’s still a ways to go with my penitence before we can be wed in holy matrimony.”
“Let me help,” Woody took the necklace out of her hands and hooked the fastener. “You make it sound like the stations of the cross. How many were there? Twelve?”
“No, that’s the number of apostles. It was fourteen.”
“OK, plenty. But believe me Father Frank would marry us in a minute. And it wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. You’ve been sleeping on the couch for too long.”
“Now I don’t want to hear anything more about it. Things are going just fine with us. We have our time together. Date night, church on Sunday and these rallies. We talk on the phone every day. What more do you want?” Woody couldn’t offer a response. “And we’ve got our Little Manny,” she added with a wink. “You did bring him with you?”
“Yes dear, he’s in the trunk.”
“I wish you wouldn’t,” she poked him in the arm with her index finger.
“What’d I do wrong this time?”
“You should let our son ride in the back seat where he belongs.” Woody opened the car door for Delores and then went to the trunk, took out a purple velvet sack and placed it in the backseat. Ten minutes later they joined the rally.
“Welcome Sidewalk Saviors.” Franklin Toliver stood on the steps of the Westside Women’s Health Clinic. He wore a black leather jacket accented by a white clerical collar. “It’s time to bear witness and put words into deeds.” The milling assembly on the sidewalk held signs that read: “Every Life Matters”; “Children are a Gift from God”; “Choose Life, Deny Death”; “Abortion Stops a Beating Heart”; “Every Life Deserves to Live”; “Let God Plan Parenthood”. A small number of women in the crowd were visibly pregnant and wore yellow t-shirts emblazoned with celebratory slogans: “Miracles Happen”; “Raising Tiny Disciples”; “Future Servant of the Lord On Board”; and “Jesus Made Me Do It.”
Toliver closed his eyes, bowed his head and offered an invocation. “Oh Lord today we demand justice for the unborn and your mercy for those who might do them harm. Be with us and guide our war against Satan. I thank you Almighty Lord for your presence among us. Amen and amen.”
Toliver opened his eyes and got down to business. “Now let’s remember to respect the legal limit of our right to protest, a full eight feet from the entrance. Those of you who have parked your cars in the clinic lot and have your vehicle towed today may apply for reimbursement of your expenses with the parish secretary. I want a clean demonstration. Only approved chants. Keep your signs upright so they can be read by passing cars. No profanity. No spitting. And those of you who are exercising your second amendment rights please keep your side arms properly concealed.”
Casey Bush is a long time Portland poet whose collection, Student of the Hippocampus, was published by Last Word Press in 2017. Casey is known to hunt mushrooms, throw the yo-yo, and push pawns. For many years he was a senior editor of The Bear Deluxe Magazine, exploring environmental issues through the graphic and literary arts. He currently writes reviews of avant-garde jazz for Audiophile Auditions. His poetry has most recently been featured in Oddball and Mad Swirl. His essay “Marcel Duchamp Gets Mugged by a Street Hustler” appeared in The Decadent Review (March 2021) and was translated into several languages. Casey recommends Chess for Success and SMART Reading.