After her fourth or fifth abortion something isn't tied right or something has been overstretched like a band and has snapped, and she comes out of her bedroom screaming, blood dripping from between her legs on the carpet then the linoleum then the carpet again like large ink-blots on heavy paper. She asks me to call an ambulance. I get on the phone and shakily ask for one, and just about remember the new address, and it arrives within minutes while my mother wads up sheets that quickly glow scarlet-wet and holds them against her crotch. The doorbell sounds minutes later and I open the door downstairs, thrilled that we are important enough to get such good emergency treatment. A brown-haired paramedic, a young man, goes in to the bedroom and I go to the front window to watch a blonde lady-paramedic standing in the front yard, talking on her radio. Astonishingly I can hear it through the television, which is on the channel for my Sega. The TV displays these wavering lines, and I can hear her speak, although the words are muffled. PGA Tour Golf is paused underneath. The paramedic comes out of the bedroom and into the front room, takes off his facemask and asks me if I'm OK. He looks concerned and I think I must look pretty pale. I don't answer him, rather I just say, "Is she going to be alright?" and he displays the most sympathetic eyebrow shape I'll probably ever see, and says, "Yes, she had a haemorrhage, but I've stitched it and it'll be fine. Don't worry, it's all going to be OK." I feel ashamed and embarrassed that it's just me and her. Not just in the apartment now, I mean, all the time, that it's just me and her. Where the guy is who got her pregnant I have no idea, and nor does she. I thank him and he leaves, and I poke my head into her bedroom and see her lying among red sheets, and she tells me she has to get herself checked out at the hospital in the next few days, and I am astounded at how the paramedic managed to make everything good enough right there in the bedroom in such a short space of time. Everything seems dulled, like I've hit my head. She’s quiet but seems alright, so I resume playing PGA Tour, but I find I don't have the necessary dexterity to play well due to my hands shaking, so I turn it off and lay back on the couch, looking out at the smeared orange streetlights until I'm so tired that despite the god awful anxiety about my own tenuous place in this world, I fall asleep.
My brother sat on the side of the bed and with scared doe eyes said, “I’m dying. You gotta help me. Get me to the hospital.” “What are you dying of?” “Drugs.” I chuckled. “I’m fucking serious,” he said. “What drugs?” “I did LSD and it’s all wrong. I’m going to die.” “Get in the car, let’s go.” I had just passed my test and was as nervous about driving and me somehow getting the blame for this as I was scared about him dying. He didn’t cry wolf, especially regarding drugs. He did as many as he could. I shakily got us to the hospital which I was surprised to find almost deserted. I guess I thought these places were always busy. On the way I stalled the car at a green light, and some boys in the Ford behind us grinned and beeped and yelled, and I felt like crying. I wished that a helicopter would winch us out of there, me a jumpy emotional wreck, and my brother slumped in his seat, burbling spit bubbles. A young doctor we had clearly woken made my brother eat a charcoal cake. He gingerly chewed and swallowed it, retched about halfway through, and a grey sludge poured slowly out of him like lava. After a couple of hours he was released, and he was his brash self again, and as we walked to the car he said thanks, grabbed my head with both hands, and kissed me on the mouth before running ahead. “Dick!” I called after him as I spat on the floor to get rid of his vomit taste, and I made a point of walking slowly so he would have to wait. But the fucker started drumming really loudly and annoyingly on the windows. “Shut up Ben! You’d better not do this to me again, you fucker!” I yelled.
"You killed our baby!" he said disingenuously. This wasn't a real criticism, rather something to advance his position in the argument. She said nothing, or nothing that I remember. But the abortion of my sibling clearly hadn't bothered either of them. He modified his voice in a mawkish way as if he was talking about how cute a kitten was. The embryo was put in a bag and taken down to the furnace in the basement of the hospital where I was born. This was before the days when stem-cell research was possible, the 80s, when we threw away everything.
Simon Pinkerton lives in a slightly low-rent part of London, with his wife and two boys and millions of microscopic organisms, ahhh gross. He is a contributor to McSweeney's, Word Riot, Minor Literature[s] and Queen Mobs Tea House, among other fine sites. BEFRIEND @simonpinkerton