The ambulance door is open and I can see a stretcher with a woman upon it. She lays on her back, her heavy head is tilted to the side. Outside, the day is bright with the light of early morning. The ambulance is parked haphazardly on the dark asphalt, the drivers having ignored the fading parking lines. The emergency vehicle is white, which startles me for some reason, I thought ambulances where red…but maybe that’s just a backward memory.
I look to the massive bridge in the near distance. The mouth of its giant body is half a block away. Its gaping form connects this land mass to the less populated city on the other side of the bay. The bridge is old and its design is more crude than the streamlined bridges being built today. Its dark steel structure has grown almost purple with the daily beating of sun and water vapor. Its immediate closeness lends a strangeness to the neighborhood. The constant coming and going. No commitment, just movement. My intellect searches for a more concrete reason to explain my anxiety about the bridge, but the answer lays not only in the bridge, but also in this abandoned industrial zone.
There are vacant lots of grass surrounded by chain link fences, empty parking lots with dry weeds pushing from the cracks. Scattered among the dead brush are some small yellow flowers that have offered themselves to the sun. Overhead, there are crisscrossing concrete overpasses, and the freeways create geometric shadows upon the empty lots. I know this is just a small pocket of desolation. A couple of blocks away, there is a thriving metropolis with car horns blasting and pedestrians that fill the streets, but here, where I stand, there is no one.
This is not the quiet and tranquility of an olive grove, here, the lack of life seems purposeful. The violence here is silent. The killings and drugs are hidden. It is close, but hidden from sight. The silence is heavy, waiting for a gunshot or a scream to fill the space. Despite the daylight, I sense lurkers in the shadows. At any moment, I expect to see Spiderman leaping from the rooftop of a crusty warehouse that litters the landscape.
Old buildings, relics from a time of industry and financial progress. The entrepreneurs are gone and the night creatures have moved in to fill the shadows and empty lots. I expect they will find bodies near the bridge tonight.
I turn to the ambulance, a woman with light red hair is on the stretcher, she lays on a puffy pillow and her body is covered with a white sheet. She has many clothes on her torso, she is dressed for day in mid fall with her sweatshirt and gloved hands, not the day that whispers of heat and sunshine. She is propped on a pillow, but her head is tucked close to her chin and has dropped to her right shoulder. There are two people in white doctor’s jackets. A man sits on a chrome stool within the ambulance, in between the woman’s legs. A female assistant stands further in beside him. No one sees me.
The woman is pregnant, but I see no belly lump. She has a bit of blood on her mouth, a smear of red over her lips and covering the pale skin of her upper lip. She winces and cries out softly. Intuition tells me she has requested an abortion. She moans again softly.
I stand still, locked in a position of curiosity and fear, I thought it was a painless procedure, but she seems to be hurting. Her brow is wet, her straight shoulder length hair is pasted to her face, covering her face in prison bars of red hair. Her eyes are just slightly open, through the small slits I can barely discern the whites within.
I turn to the doctor and his assistant. The man is leaning in. His face is turned from me, and only his graying hair and large white hands are obvious. He looks like a large man, probably at least 6 ft when standing. The woman beside him is much younger, probably only twenty-five at the most. She stands elegant and tall, her black hair is pulled back from her eyes and falls past her shoulders.
The man leans into the space between the woman’s legs, scooping and pulling and sucking her insides. The blood around her mouth has grown to bigger, covering her chin and nose. The doctor is using force, a lot of force. It seems more than necessary and as I stand there, I realize he is trying to hurt her. He is not just pulling out the fetus, as she wanted, he is pulling out her uterus, scrapping the soft walls of her womb with hard metal instruments and doing it painfully hard. He wants her pain. She is a baby killer.
My stomach churns, these are not doctors, they are members of an anti-abortion group that have managed to disguise themselves. The two “doctors” begin to talk amongst themselves. The woman on the stretcher is suddenly wide awake, her eyes are opened wide with fear, revealing the blue irises and exterior white. She is scared and stunned, but unable to move or scream. With a sudden knowledge, she realizes she has been poisoned and has had all her insides removed. She gasps and collapses further into the pillow. Her breath is gone and she is still.
I look closer at her face, it is nearly covered in blood. The two infiltrators move close to her face. Standing above her, the man grips a sponge, squeezing blood onto the woman’s already red features. The assistant opens her cupped hands, releasing a thick white liquid that mixes easily with the blood. I stand paralyzed, unseen, wondering if I am actually here. Wondering, in the midst of this theater of violence, what my role is, what my role was, what my role could be.