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Dorie’s pain seared again. “Motherfucker,” she shouted. The epidural hadn’t kicked in yet. The fluorescence of the labor room, if you could call it that—it was more of a windowless closet with a bathroom –made her head pound.

The nurse came in, checked the baby’s heartbeat. The machine bleeped.

“Can you turn off the lights?” Dorie said. “It’s too fucking bright.”

“Sure,” the nurse said and adjusted the dimmer. She pressed Dorie’s wrist for her pulse. “You’re heart-rate is highly elevated, have you been taking any medications?”

“Just some cold medicine,” Dorie said and coughed, then innocently smiled through her stained crooked teeth. She and Dean thought that one up before he dropped her off at the E.R. She knew they’d find shit in her blood and they didn’t want any cops coming.

Dorie’s water breaking was a buzz kill. It’d been a goddamn week since her and Dean had scrounged enough to score. Now Dean was back at the motel sucking the last of it off their glass dick. There’d be no ice cream left for her after she got sprung. She wanted another hit so bad that she barely paid attention to how her back hurt. Another contraction. Dorie howled and the nurse patted her back as she writhed through it.

“The spinal tap will start working soon. Just hang in there,” the nurse said, “I’ll be back to check your progress. Remember, breathe.”

Dorie stared, tweaked out and alone, in the darkened room. She was sure the bitch was on her way to rat her out to the doctor. If Dean were here, it’d be worse–him pacing, looking out the window, wanting to light up. It was their plan for him to leave her, since the night she’d peed on that stick at the Chevron. They’d sell this baby like they had the last two. Shit, those kids were probably in Beverly Hills in a mansion. Or maybe at the beach. Whatever, they’d thank her if they ever met.

The room was icy, but she was sweating. The crunchy bed held that hospital smell, all bleach and plastic. She was naked under the sheet gown that tied at the back. Her clothes were on the chair. She probably reeked of cigarettes and the torch. So what if the baby came a week early, the adoption agency would be all hands out for her bundle of love. Good people, just waiting for her to call and tell them to where to pick up their package. She’d get the money –Birthmother Expenses they called the payments to her –something about a child-trafficking law –and then Dean and her, they’d be hot rolling, buy Croak, or better, some Mexican speed balls.

Dean was good-looking. Everyone said so. He was stringy with some bad-ass muscles and ink. Dorie didn’t care that he called her a stupid ugly ho. He still fucked her. That meant something, didn’t it? He only hit her because he had to teach her shit and Dorie knew she was dumb, people been telling her that since she was little and couldn’t remember her times tables. It took beatings to remember things, is what her adopted mother used to say when her father would get out the belt. Didn’t matter that Dorie was shaking and screaming, that she had strap marks across the back of her thighs when she went to Parker Elementary. When she told Dean about that after the first time he hit her, he agreed. He always had a good scam—it was his idea to go to the adoption place the first time. When she got herself knocked up, most dudes woulda left, but not Dean.

Giving a baby away wasn’t hard to do, Dorie knew because she’d been adopted. She figured that her mother must’ve really loved her to leave with those Pentecostal’s in Lancaster. She’d do the same for this lucky bastard kicking its way out. Life was cool like that.

And Dean was all sweet, too, each time she got knocked up. They’d been at it for almost ten years, since he’d found her at that Dollar Store stocking shelves. You’d think he’d say by now that she was fat and ugly, but no, he called her his little money maker. He was all lovey-dovey, he went to the liquor store for cigarettes and he hardly hit her. It was good times. As long as she could keep spitting out money, she had her man.

Pam Alster, former TV writer & suburban mom brings a decade of living on the dark side to light in her novel debut Robin’s Blue available now in Kindle and Paperback. Find her on Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter @plexigirl

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