By Michael G. Glab
— Twenty-five —
[Early June, 1968. The world outside Anna’s door continues to spin out of control. Where’s Anthony? Oh, you know, he’s out trying to fix that world. Anna is alone, save for her imagination. There must be a place of hope. Anna hopes Bobby can lead her — and the nation — there. Reality gets in the way.]
More than anything in the world right now, Anna wants to cry but she can’t let herself. She knows it’s ridiculous but she can’t shake the old warning her mother and aunts and Nonna Luisa always bestowed upon pregnant girls who were on the verge of tears: Don’t cry or else you’ll dry up your milk.
I mean, honestly, Anna thinks. I read Dr. Spock. This is the 1960s for God’s sake. We should be way past those old wives tales.
But, still, Anna won’t succumb.
That’s why she tries her best not to think about that delicious fantasy she’s been having for months. It started back around March, even before the wedding. Anthony hasn’t touched her since late winter. No, not even on their wedding night. She thought at first, Well, marriage is for life so there’ll be plenty of time, y’know, for that kind of stuff.
So far, though, nothing.
Of course, it’s her fault. Anthony says so. The more her pregnancy has progressed, the fatter a cow she has become. Anthony doesn’t even want to see her unclothed. She has to change in the bathroom, out of his eyesight, unless she wants to hear him piss and moan about how gross she looks.
So Anna’s mind began to wander. It landed upon Bobby and why not? So good-looking. So exciting. So… valiant. That little tuft of hair that always falls over his forehead, the one he always has to brush back. He even did it at the microphone in L.A. after he said, “… and now it’s on to Chicago and let’s win there.”
This is…, was, Anna’s fantasy: She’d be walking through the halls of the Conrad Hilton. Just walking, you know, because Anthony was outside, of course, screaming up at delegates’ rooms along with the hundred thousand or one million or ten million other protesters, the ones he’s had a hell of a lot more time for than her these days.
The door of one of the rooms would open, and there, a vision, as near to a messiah as Anna would let herself believe, would be Bobby. He’d be tying his tie, his hair mussed from his shower.
“Oh,” he’d say, “pardon me. Is everything alright.”
Anna’d smile shyly and say, “Yes. Sure.”
“You look lost,” Bobby would say.
“Yeah, I think so.”
“Please, come in.”
Bobby would run his fingers through his hair. He’d offer her orange juice and maybe an English muffin.
“What is it?” he’d say as Anna sat on the sofa. “What’s bothering you?”
“Oh, you’ve got too much to think about,” Anna’d say. “Don’t worry about me.”
“But I am worried about you.”
And then it would all pour out of Anna. Ma cutting her off. Daddy having to sneak around in back just to see her occasionally and slip her a ten or twenty because…, well, because there isn’t much money in gonzo radical journalism. Anthony being disgusted by her enormous weight. “God in heaven, I think I’ve gained a ton,” she’d say. “Fifteen pounds at least!”
“But,” Bobby would say, “you’re beautiful.”
“Yes you are. Actually, you’re radiant.”
Bobby would place his hand on her basketball bulge. He’d gently and innocently caress her belly. “There’s nothing on this Earth more beautiful than a pregnant woman,” Bobby’d say. “My mother always told me that.”
… Nothing On This Earth More Beautiful….
At that point, Anna would be totally and incontrovertibly his. He’d kiss her cheek gently and she’d crave more. He’d tell her there was a place for a sensible, sensitive, intelligent young woman like her. He’d bring her to the White House with him, and they would Change The World.
War — ended. Poverty — addressed. Racism — eliminated. She, Anna Claudia Pontone, would stand next to him every step of the way. And, of course, there’d be the fabulous, almost unimaginably good, spiritual sex. For the past three months, Anna had brought herself to climax a time or two or several dozen without even touching herself — well, not every time — thinking such things.
The fantasy was so good, so realistic, that Anna already knew what Bobby’s neck smelled like.
Only right now she can’t allow herself to think about the smell of his neck — otherwise she’ll cry.
And she doesn’t want to cry. You know, because of Ma, her aunts, and her Nonna Luisa, damn them.
Anna hasn’t turned the TV off since yesterday morning when, at a little past three thirty, the bulletin first flashed that there’d been a shooting at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, Bobby Kennedy’s California primary campaign headquarters. She hasn’t left the house since. Nor has she had any company; Anthony has been out, somewhere, doing whatever it is he’s doing for the Convention in August.
The Dream Lay Dying
Her emotions rise and fall with the continuing news reports. Before breakfast, Walter Cronkite says that the gunman shot Bobby with a .22 caliber pistol. That’s good news because even though Anna knows only a little bit about guns, she is aware that a .22 is rather small, not like the hunting round that tore a fist-sized hole in Martin Luther King’s neck.
Prior to lunch, Bobby comes out of surgery to remove the bullet and bone fragments from his brain. Anna experiences a feeling that can almost be described as glee, for Bobby’s still alive.
Just before dinner time, Bobby’s spokesman Frank Mankiewicz says the doctors are awfully worried; the Senator is showing no improvement at all. Later comes the report that Bobby’s sisters and even Jackie Kennedy have come to the hospital to be at his side. Now Anna begins to mourn. It is a death watch.
It’s almost four in the morning. Mankiewicz appears on the screen again. The words at the bottom of the screen read, “Live from Good Samaritan Hospital.” She can only catch the last words of Mankiewicz’s statement: “… he was, uh, 42 years old.”
Finally, to hell with Ma and her sisters and Nonna Luisa, to hell with everybody in this goddamned rotten world, to hell with her milk — she can bottle feed her baby — Anna lets go. She cries. Deeply. So deeply she must force herself to stop every now and then so she can breathe. The fantasy — the fantasies — are no more. That tuft of hair, that innocent peck on the cheek, the lovemaking, the world changed. Gone.
Now all that’s left is the life inside her womb. And all Anna wants from Anthony is a little help.
To be continued
Join us Thursday for Episode 26 of the serial e-novel, “Black Comedy.”