This story was originally posted elsewhere during 2007 under the by-line The Wanderer. Sincere thanks go to LadyCibelle and Techsan for their patience, proofreading and editing skills when it came to preparing this short tale for posting.
How had I got myself into this situation, I was asking myself. Why me? What had I done to deserve this? Well, the answer was – if I was being truthful with myself, that is – that it wasn't what I had done; it was more a question of what I hadn't done. Sound confusing to you? Yeah, me, too, but now it was time for me to do something drastic, and bloody quickly as well, before things reached the point of no return.
Let's go back a little and I'll try to explain what happened. What it had started with was a quick roll in the hay after both Veronica and I had drunk too much at a party one night. We were both eighteen at the time and at the beginning of the party we had both been virgins. The following morning neither of us were virgins anymore and Ronnie had an uninvited guest in her womb.
Of course we didn't know that when we woke up in the same bed the next day. Ronnie and I – when sober at least – had never considered each other either attractive or had thoughts of dating each other. So a few choice words were exchanged between us, and I made a hasty strategic withdrawal.
Hey, don't get the idea that neither of us was attractive from what I've just said. But beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder, and until that party Veronica and I had never cast our eyes in each other's direction. Well I don't think we consciously had. You know, it's just how things go; Ronnie was just one of the girls who lived in our town and there were plenty of others who I had my eyes on.
There was a reason for that though. Veronica and her friends were in a little clique who appeared to think that they were god's gift to the world. They walked around totally convinced that their shit didn't stink, and that every other youngster in town held what they said and did in awe.
Me? Well, my friends and I had it figured that chasing after the unobtainable was a complete waste of time, long before. Consequently Ronnie and her little crowd had never been seriously added into the equation. Yeah, they'd been discussed amongst my mates, but we knew how the cookie crumbled and that there's no point in throwing snowballs at the moon.
Well, after that inexplicable night, it didn't take long for Ronnie to lose that quite shapely figure of hers. Funny how I only really noticed that figure of Veronica's, after that unsightly bump appeared in her tummy.
It wasn't very long before pointed questions were being asked. Unfortunately the finger of suspicion was soon pointing in my direction. Well, apparently Veronica - when she told her parents she was in the family way – had informed them that I was the only possible candidate for the newly available position of expectant father.
I'd have loved to have been a fly on the wall during that little exposé; I doubt that Veronica's parents ever figured me as a likely - or welcome - candidate for a son-in-law.
I'm going to tell you now that the first that I officially knew of Ronnie's pregnancy – any previous knowledge I had, was based upon rumour-mill conjecture -- was when I came home from work one evening to find my parents entertaining (if that's the right word) Veronica and her parents in our lounge. Then things really got entertaining (look, I can't help it if I've got a sick sense of humour sometimes) with Veronica's father threatening to ensure, that if I didn't do right by his daughter, I'd be singing soprano, permanently.
Now my mother was devastated by the news; but my father was of the old school and took it all in his stride. "You reap what you sow!" he used to say, and "You stand by your obligations like a man."
The net result was your typical shotgun wedding, with me kind of roped in as an afterthought.
Everything was sorted without any input from me at all: the wedding, the furnished rented cottage that we were going to live in. And the rules of engagement that we were going to live by after the wedding, as spelled out by Veronica. And, most probably, her mother, the Dragon!
My sole contribution to the proceedings – ignoring the rapidly growing bun in Veronica's oven -- was to stand at the altar and say, "I do" when directed to do so.
And then work my effin' fingers to the bone to keep "Veronica" in the style that she had become accustomed.
I say my effing fingers, because that was the only ... er, screwing that I got anywhere near doing for a bleeding long time. God, there were only single beds in that bloody cottage.
Whilst she was pregnant, Ronnie was - to put it mildly – 'one lazy cow!' If I wanted to eat when I got home from work, then I cooked for myself. Ronnie would have been around her mother's house for most of the day and she normally ate there. I assumed; you know, I never asked.
I appeared to be responsible for keeping the house clean and tidy as well; Ronnie was always complaining that she was too ill, or too tired.
Yeah, as you can guess, I didn't figure that the marriage was going to last all that long, and I doubted that Ronnie did either. I thought that once the child had been born 'in wedlock' then divorce wouldn't be long in coming onto the agenda. The sprog wouldn't be born a bastard, and I believed that's all that everyone was worrying about at the time.
But then just as Veronica was nearing full term, things took an unexpected turn, and it snowed.
Yeah, eight bleeding inches of the stuff falling during the night, was to change just about everything.
Ronnie's waters broke at about five that morning, almost two weeks early. The first I knew about it was when she yelled for me to call for an ambulance, and to be bloody quick about it.
I picked up the telephone only to find that it was completely dead. The snow had evidently brought the lines down somewhere. Mobile phones were still in the realms of the rich-yuppie posers, back then.
The next nearest telephone was on the end of the road about half a mile away, so after climbing out of the window -- there was a snowdrift up against the front door -- I battled my way through the last of the blizzard to the phone box. Only to find that ruddy telephone was out of order as well.
Now, that left me with two options. Another -- almost mile -- trek through the snowdrifts to a neighbour's house, where I suspected their telephone could well be out as well. Or, return to a very frightened Veronica, and get out the "Home Doctor" book that I'd remembered seeing on the bookshelf somewhere.
I chose the latter option and, with the book in one hand, I became a very nervous apprentice midwife with the other. I might not have felt confident about what I was doing, but I knew I had to act as if I was, for Ronnie and the baby's sake.
Look, guys, I'm sure that most of you have no idea what a breach baby is, or how to deal with it. Well, neither did I until I read that bloody book. That had the date 1905 printed inside the front cover, by the way.
Alright, maybe I'm exaggerating a little bit there, but from what I could make of it the baby's head wasn't engaged and the little bugger didn't appear to me to be lined up properly according to how the book said it should be.
Was I glad that the guy who wrote the damned thing, knew his stuff, and went into the fine detail. Not pleasant reading, I can assure you; but when the need must, a ruddy godsend to me that day.
Anyway, after a bit of delicate pushing and shoving -- and a certain amount of cursing and swearing that I doubted Veronica's mother would have thought that her darling daughter would even know, let alone use, -- I suddenly found myself covered in stuff that I won't bother to describe here (some readers might have weak stomachs) and holding a darling little baby girl in my arms.
Luckily the umbilical cord was just about long enough for me to place Megan in Ronnie's arms so that I could turn the page of the book, to see what I was supposed to do next. Great, those old medical books; they assume that you are going to have little at hand to complete the operation, and make the appropriate suggestions for alternatives.
Modern books tend to say, "Call in the experts NOW!"
Ah, yeah, 'Megan!' You noticed the name, did you? I thought you would. Not my choice I can assure you. I'd always been fascinated with the name 'Ottilie' and had wanted my first female child to bear that name. The Dragon -- Veronica's mother -- was called Megan though, so I'd been outvoted on that before we even knew the sex of the child.
I'd just completed washing the baby and placed her back in her mother's arms when the two policemen climbed through the open front widow and came upstairs to see what the problem was. I'd taken the precaution of pacing out the word "HELP!" in the snow in big letters, before I'd gone back into the cottage to assist Ronnie give birth. A military helicopter-patrolling overhead had eventually spotted it and landed the two officers.
Before I knew what was happening, a doctor had arrived in a second helicopter and they made arrangements for Ronnie and Megan to be flown to hospital. I was staying behind because there was no room in the machine for me. My family, weren't the only passengers on the mercy flight.
.... There is more of this story ...