This is a must read – M
The Duncan-Enzmann Archives contain a formidable amount of information and material. Our sorting, compiling, editing, illustrating – all are part of a tremendous effort to preserve a lifetime of knowledge. Sometimes we come across something compelling, moving, and personal. Such was the case with this memoir. Written decades ago, sadly it is still relevant. If ever there was a plea to come to our senses about a subject, this is it.
What follows are mostly excerpts concerning what happened in a dismal room by a roaring furnace, written as it was “talked out” with a friend. Neither protagonist is young. Both are by nature very hard workers who have accomplished a great deal.
One, who is called the Centurion, is also fashionably called a rocket scientist, and often by the media, a missile lord. His soul, psyche, and education were hammer-welded by survival at its basest, through holocaust events and numerous rarely mentioned parallels. He is an excellent linguist; gifted, as he could, when young, remember a text word for word, read all IE languages, Arabic, Chinese, Cuneiform, Akkadian and Hittite. His fingers have played the keys (switches) on the pipe-organs of nuclear destruction that could consume cities in seas of fire, and and/or battled such destruction with anti-missiles.
The other is called Reverend, a West Point graduate, attack helicopter pilot, and veteran – then armed with but a Smith and Wesson. Baptist “called” by intelligent consciousness, he is a minister on the testing site of America’s Pacific ICBM missile ranges. Vast is his library, he reads German, French, and Hebrew.
This conversation will never be forgotten. Centurion has never dealt with horrendous memories from his time as an intern, perhaps never having had anyone he could “talk it out” with.
Ethics in a Bundle
The talk-out began at a dinner featuring squid; both the Centurion and Reverend avoid the squid, it still looks like squid – eyes, tentacles and such. They eat things around it.
Centurion: “I admit, as before, saying I lie for fun and profit. It defuses potential confrontation and spares demonstrating honesty. It’s glib and without depth. We met after I survived seventy-five years of death and terror, and a half century of crushing lonesome silence. We are gifted with an unusual intelligence and hunted for execution because of it, but I believe we should give of ourselves, our personal histories, making us more real.”
Centurion: “Reverend, I am burdened, and will be for a lifetime, by an incident I call Ethics in a Bundle.”
They both sort of poke at the squid, and eat the fruit.
Centurion: “I always was a storyteller. I can’t help it. Please don’t comment at all. Here’s the Bundle. And Reverend, this is no story, it’s misery. It tortures my soul.”
The Reverend sits quietly, ready to listen. He is quite good at that.
A Scriptum on Partial Birth
Partial birth abortion is perfectly legal. Neither a miscarriage nor an abortion is a living human being. Partial birth abortion is widespread in America. It’s brilliant infanticide – a way to kill unwanted babies. By law, even if most of the healthy living child is born, the doctor can crush the baby’s skull and kill it. It’s not murder, just a procedure called partial birth abortion.
Bouncy Baby Problems
“Bouncy little boy, bouncy little girl” – you often hear it: what does it mean? They don’t tell you, it’s sort of embarrassing. Here’s what it is. No, not bouncy like a ball, yes, bouncy like rubber bands squizzled up in your hand and then let go – they bounce apart.
Sometimes, the moment after a baby’s head is born, the rest – “swoosh!” – pops out in just seconds. Hey, it’s crowded in there, arms and legs fly apart, baby straightens out – bounces! Its great expanding that way! Its no longer all squeezed together.
This is so cute, unless the baby’s scheduled for perfectly legal partial birth abortion. It could be a problem, but no, not for Big Surgeon. No problem at all. Big Surgeon has the nurse “look over there!” or sends inexperienced nurses out to get “something.”
Bah! The brat bounced out – so, Whack! (the skull) Whack! (the neck) Whack! Whack! (along the spine). There, a “delayed” partial birth abortion. Legal in America. You can’t kill something that was neither completely born, or even alive. Quite sensibly legal in America – well? Reason it out. A foot could still be inside or perhaps the placenta. Not completely born.
Big Chief Surgeon well knows the system. Procedures are listed, duly and correctly recorded, as perfectly correct and complete, meeting all legal requirements. And then there are some minor – not worth mentioning, so to speak – trivial points. People “tip” in cash for this procedure. Anywhere from $500 to $2000 in cash! The IRS never notices. No income tax. Big Surgeon relishes these tips.
Centurion: I’m an intern going through “the rotations.” These weeks are in maternity. Not to boast, but the doctors really like what I can do with a microscope – that it’s light years ahead of them is no accident. In the USA and Germany, then for some years in Sweden, I worked with the world’s most advanced petrographic microscopes, 5-axis orientations, polarizations, interference colors reflected transmitted, transverse dark filed illumination, x-ray spot-illuminations, IR spot illumination, hot to subzero temperature control…. most of these techniques are unknown to workers with even the finest biological scopes. I owned such an instrument. To these people, what I did was like magic. I now have a PhD and an MD, surpassing Big Surgeon by far.”
The Reverend smiles and nods. Centurion was already a PhD, he would have to ask why later become an MD?
Centurion’s mind continues with “Bundle.” He is far away, in the past as an intern at war with Big Surgeon, who ventures the first of a number of invitations to the intern to “come have dinner at my house.” He knows the interns weaknesses; he has decades of experience. And for some time it is like being in a marine boot camp. Big Surgeon sails into the doctor’s lounge, enthrones himself right beside the intern, jiggling his coffee cup while reaching across him for the newspaper. The intern whacks Big Surgeon’s arm with a ruler. (Such carrying on has no recourse. No complaints can be lodged. It’s similar to an exceedingly rude FBI man who, all of a moment, was caught in a commando hold, and a moment later released with his right wrist handcuffed to his right ankle. How now, can that be brought up to the FBI man’s boss?) I had, fortunately, already finished surgical rotation.
Hesitant to relive the pain, but needing to talk it out, he continues telling his torturous story to Reverend.
Big (MD) Surgeon with (MD/PhD) intern
“Here lad,” says Big Surgeon, “best tool of all for this job is a pair of crunch-cutters to get specimens. The cadaver’s fresh, only hours.” Fresh out of the autoclave and sterile, they can snap right through a baby’s leg, arm, or spine. “Get with it my boy.”
“Hey,” I say, “the autoclave ain’t going to do nothing to rid ‘em of certain noxious viruses.”
“OK,” says Big Surgeon, “this isn't for pathology, it’s for me. $20 a slide.”
“OK, do it my boy, get some experience.”
I go down to the dismal lowermost floor, next to where the disposal furnace roars, to get the samples and do most of the work on the slides: harden samples, stain, embed in paraffin, slice on microtome, mount, fix on slide, stain again. Tomorrow I will deliver one slide at a time. Big Surgeon cheats. I make him pay up one at a time. And no label till it’s all paid.
Big Surgeon and I are in an armed truce. Gleefully I read aloud remarks the IRS gives you for turning in income tax cheaters, and that ain’t all I got on him.
Centurion: “That room where specimens rest before the furnace gets them is a miserable place. I enter and lock the door, there’s other such rooms, if needed. I’ll not be disturbed at this work. However, what happens in that room shatters me more than anything which happened during my active years during WW II, 1942 – 1945. It has gnawed at me for years. After ‘the room’ and after what I was subsequently compelled to do, even to this day, I wonder why I did what I did.”
Reverend: “Many of our conversations are centered on ethics.”
Centurion: “After it’s done I pick up my daughter. At that time Helen’s five, half way to six. She’s in first grade and already reads and draws pictures of houses, of how to have lunch. She sits in the very front of the room with four other pretty little girls, also very good little girls, mostly together admiring themselves and each other, she’ll be with me during the year of rotations. (No, I am not divorced or separated; Helen’s the youngest of four daughters and desperately wants to be with me, so she is.) We have adventures and free dinners for doctors at the Hospital. She eats what and all she wants, then I finish it. Weekends, there are extras. We tour a mall and supermarkets around it feasting on free samples. There’s a zoo to visit, occasionally the town swimming pool, the library, and many sleepovers with doctors’ families, provided they have little girls just the same age and I've met the mother.”
Reverend: “Sounds like a wonderful time. But I sense great sorrow in your story.”
The Centurion remembers all too well; it was a difficult evening. He struggles to talk this out with the Reverend.
Daughter Helen 6 years old
Helen: “You – you are crying!”
Centurion-daddy: “Yes, in a good way.” (That’s a lie.)
“Yes, because I met a sort of angel.”
“A real angel, like in Sunday School?”
“Sort of - much like that.”
“I think you could have played with her. She was very little but would have grown. She went back to heaven.” True – she did.
Centurion: “From sunset to twilight, and to nightfall I told a made-up angel story, then read to Helen till she fell asleep. What happened in the dismal room beside the roaring furnace is now best told as we talk. It has been over a decade.”
Lemule tossed it in the sink. It moved a little. Think of an animal, a road kill carcass tossed to the roadside by the impact. The cold damp sink reeks of disinfectant.
Baby: The last a big thump hurt. I rest in this cold place.
Lemule is an affirmative action, mentally challenged, full time worker. Big Surgeon has employed him for almost two years. Big Surgeon does good things, contributes minuscule sums to good causes, talks about doing good, and about ethics.
Lemule “does things” for Big Surgeon. Lemule “on the job” talks normally, softly, with Lembert who is invisible. Lemule is ‘harmless’ and goes about his job, steers a narrow, never very obtrusive path.
A Cold Dirty Sink
Centurion: I walk into room 6. It’s in one of several tiny predisposal rooms way down in a low basement. The concrete walls, floor, and ceiling, are cold, damp, and dirty. Couldn't they at least paint it white? It’s musty. A single near ground-level window, unwashed for decades if ever, dimly lights it. Opposite is an iron sink, glazed white, but over the years, chipped. Rust stains leak down from the chips. It’s dirty. (Legally this is wrong, but enormous influence will claim “this is nothing.” Such trials are nightmares for governments.)
It’s one of the places where Lemule – a dim bulb, feeble minded, grossly an idiot, but chemically weak up top – it’s one of the places where Lemule tosses “road kill.” (He is controlled politically-correctly, a mentally challenged affirmative action triumph!)
Baby: Cold, so cold, my eyes are cold. I close my eyes, time goes. Parts of me dry. Dry cold is warmer. Wet cold everywhere under me.
Lemule and Lembert talk all the time. This dead one, those nasty ones, these clean ones. That Lemule handles a corpse of any age is unspeakable. And he has.
Still alive, it lies in the filthy sink. There it is, tossed into the sink. Think of a beast, a road-kill animal carcass, dead or dying. The sink – dirty and cold – reeks of disinfectant. Next door, the disposal furnace intermittently roars consuming bedding, devices, excrement, tissue, body parts. The fine ash goes to a special “toxic dump.”
Centurion: I bolt the door. (technically taking such samples this way is illegal, yet legal with good lawyers who demonstrate: this isn't human. Congress agrees. Never born, never alive.)
Baby: No more big hurts. Quiet, but so cold. I’m getting better? I hear with one ear. A someone is here, to hold me? Love me? So near.
Centurion: “Over and over again medical students are admonished: Don’t emotionally involve yourself with patients. With any patient, or at worst, very marginally, but professionally.” He remembers crying tears, but doesn't say so.
Reverend: “All crap. Doctors have a duty, an obligation, much like men of the cloth. Or is it visa versa? What you just spouted is parody, heartlessness parading as virtuous common sense.”
Lemule and Lembert are upstairs in the cafeteria waiting for Big Surgeon to call. To take away another. They talk and converse. You can hear Lemule, but Lembert’s invisible and inaudible.
No birth-cry, no infanticide
If it never drew a breath it never lived. Quick! Strangle it! No birthday? It never lived, so it couldn't die, never drew a single breath.
The Centurion painfully relives it in memories, as if only moments ago.
Centurion: “I go to the sink. At first sight it’s such a pretty little one. With a closer look, the injuries are dreadful. Horrifying! Mother of mercy the placenta is still attached and it’s alive! How can that be done by anyone to anyone? This is a hospital! So pretty, her dark hair is gone. She is so pink and white, with little fingers and toes, a soft round face with puffy, sucking, padded cheeks. If you can live I will take you home. I have four daughters already – they’ll love another tiny one.”
Baby: Cold, but I rest.
Even dying, it rally’s hopelessly tiny resources. Baby makes a tiny sound, she’s not only breathing, but calling out.
Baby: A presence, warmness. I’m being cared for. Loved, I’m about to be nursed.
Centurion: “Then I see bruises on her legs and waist. Big Surgeon did it with a hammer.”
Reverend: “What an awful mess.”
Centurion: “No, no mess. No bloody pulp. Just bone-breaking, body-crushing whacks. I thought: perhaps she can be saved.”
Centurion: “Reverend, I do believe that first, do no harm, and then, cause no unnecessary pain. A life, no matter how miserable, is precious. Preserve it.”
Reverend: “The Hippocratic Oath is common sense.”
Centurion: “She was full term, about six pounds, beautiful pink skin, nice little hands, wispy hair, some dark. Most is fine, like fairy-spun gold.”
Centurion as Intern, in agony, remembers standing over the sink.
Pretty Little Face
Baby: I sense, sort of feel a presence. I open my eyes.
Centurion: “Your eyes are open. Oh my! Unlike almost all newborns who have one eye go one way and maybe the other eye elsewhere, your eyes only waver a bit now and then. You are looking right at me! Amazingly well coordinate eyes for a newborn. You would likely be a bright little package growing up.”
It tremors, sort of shivers all over, sinking, even as it tries to heal. Then the trembling, even in the paralyzed lower body, stops. The mouth moves the tiny tongue. The intern talks softly to it. It can hear with one ear. It likes it, eyes and mouth say so. It is a tiny happiness.
Centurion: “Why of course, here now.”
He wets a bit of paper towel from a coke bottle in his pocket and sprinkles a few grains of sugar on it from the packets he regularly “acquires” in the doctor’s lounge and takes home. He touches the damp paper with grains of sugar on it to the tiny tongue.
Centurion: “Oh my goodness, how it moves. It knows it’s good! This is another happiness.”
The eyes really open to look at the interns face, then they rest.
Baby: A mother thing. Here to hold me. A happiness…
The Centurion, painfully remembering, continues his “talking out” to Reverend. His memories pour out as if he were there in the basement.
Centurion: “Pretty little thing, pink and white like a birthday cake. My daughters could love you. How can you be alive? Your skull ripped open, brain exposed. You were horribly beaten on the back in three places, leg broken… you have bruises! You’re trying to heal!” (A bruise is a first step in healing.)
IQ 70 Lembert and Imaginary Lemule
Lembert’s on the toilet, constipated.
Lembert: “Big surgeon medicines me.” (With Beck and hospital absolute alcohol for 50+ proof.)
Lemule: “Big Surgeon saves you.” (You’re hopelessly alcoholic.)
Lembert: “Brain plunger (the thick short, jagged rod Big Surgeon jams in baby brains) is like a toilet plunger. We clean toilets, brain plunger.” Surgeon kills toilet brains.
The Centurion sort of time travels.
Centurion: “I look the child over carefully. In anguish, I think it over. Emergency? No, utterly useless. Uproar? Yes, but I don’t care. No, what’s right is making her last moments a little more comfortable.” He begins by talking to, and wishing for, her.
“It’s just possible; you could ride in a carriage with four big girls to feed you and wheel you around. And then sitting up, toddling, and breaking things! No, sweetheart, you can’t. There are four ahead of you, everything’s already broken.” Lots of hand-me-downs. A tricycle! Dress up in big girl clothes and play “Lady.”
Centurion: “She lasted for hours. She had bruises and scabs, dry head and brain tissue. That’s sort of healing. I said a prayer. I still thought perhaps she could survive.”
Reverend does not speak.
Most everyone has had his knee tapped with a doctor’s hammer to test for reflexes. Big Surgeon doesn't use the hammer part to beat partial birth abortions to make sure they don’t come to life. Not a single breath will they take, there will be no birth. You can’t kill what never lived – lived legally that is. Big Surgeon uses the long heavy handle. He’s an expert; he knows when to hold tiny mouths and noses shut as he whacks the body. The long massive handle breaks bones.
No Chance at All – Just Dump
Centurion: “I still see in my mind’s eye that poor battered little body. Only the right hand could move, the frightful beating-at-birth had paralyzed most of her. A doctor knows just where to hit to do that. The worst was the head. The soft baby’s spot was ripped open with a short jagged-ended plunger stick. Neck bones half-crushed, shoulder shattered, lower spine broken in two places. Legs and pelvis – four terrible hits broke bones.”
The Reverend has stopped picking at his food. He is not hungry anymore. His heart is sharing Centurion’s burden.
Moved with compassion, Centurion-Intern offers his finger to the little thing in the sink.
Baby: To hold the warm finger. A little happiness. The mother thing cares for me, loves me, it’s warm.
The rest of her body’s a lot of damp, wet, cold paralysis, and dull hurts – getting better, but so tired.
Lemule and Lembert: “Toilet plunger, head plunger, drip heads, don’t drip brains. Shit! Big Surgeon says to grab an arm to toss ‘em in the sink and in the furnace. Don’t drip…..”
Blasphemy? No, God Understands.
Memories play like an old movie in the Centurion’s mind. He could not let this life be ignored.
Centurion: “No. You’re a person.” I take a match, wet it, and say “God, please bless this water to make it holy.”
Then I touch her tongue with sugary water. She licks it. She still holds my finger, which warms up, with her right hand, the one that can move. She seems to like that.
Then with the damp match I make a tiny cross on her cheek. I touched her forehead once but it seemed to hurt – so I put the cross on her cheek saying: “I christen you ____. Your name is C_____ R _____.” Then I say “I adopt you. You are not alone.”
Centurion: “Miracles happen. That I believe. It could have happened, it really could have.”
The Reverend just nods. He shares the pain and distress with Centurion.
A little life’s Moments of Warm Sunshine
Baby _____: Little happy sweet taste. Little happiness holding is it mother? Oh, nice, nice warm. A little happy.
The Centurion fights tears in the present as he remembers the past like it was today.
Centurion: “Baby _____ looks right at me, her eyes focus one last time.”
Baby _____: So tired, so tired. But many little happinesses.
As I watch, her eyes wander.
Baby ____: I’m way inside me…. swish, swish …. nothing anywhere hurts.
Baby ___ stills. Her eyes glaze. He closes them and cries. Baby ___ ‘sleeps,’ her eyes shut.
The Centurion-Intern has a plan.
Christmas paper, of course! He makes a bonnet-like hat, a sort of skirt, a blouse. No, not smothering her, but a big wrapping, blanket-like. It’s all about you. And now a letter on this old typewriter.
Stealing a Human Corpse is Serious Crime
The Centurion-Intern hears the furnace roar. No. Not burn. Not alive? Never drawn a breath, not alive? You can’t murder what is lifeless - yet if you steal it you stole a human. Wish you could have come home with me. What! Yet another daughter? Why not! Lots of hand-me-downs, adventures, things to explore, to do. Wouldn't matter at all. He finds an old briefcase.
His heart breaks. “Sleep little one. You were, and are, a YOU – not a nothing.”
Legally Grand Larceny
Centurion: I come out of the basement carrying a twelve pound briefcase, and go through the doctor’s lounge where I take some food, and ‘payment,’ – the money from Big Surgeon’s wallet. Big Surgeon’s wallet bulges with cash payments in big bill folding money. HA! Two ‘big tips.’ He’s off doing another. No records are kept. No records at all.
Lemule and Lembert skulk about the doctor’s lounge. I give “them” some pecan pie and several croissants. He’s been drinking – Big Surgeon gives him alcohol-laced beer, gives it to him every day.
Centurion: “In passing the convent I left it there, crossed the street and called them from the pay phone. I waited to see the briefcase safely picked up by a lay-sister.”
The Reverend is quiet.
Centurion, apprenticed as cannon fodder, at one time an intern, now a missile lord and world class rocket scientist, was once just a someone crying in a dirty basement disposal room.
A letter is left at the convent with the briefcase. The intern really communicated. He “talks” for her. The stolen money is with the letter.
“Holy Sisters, they called me a partial birth abortion. But sisters, I have a name. I have been christened, and was alive and aware of someone when it was done. I was and am loved. Sisters, having been called a partial birth abortion, legally I am nothing. But I am someone. Please put me to rest. Here’s money for a stone. My name is S____ C____. My birthday was ___. Please, would you put me to rest, to sleep, in a dress and bonnet to cover my head? Someone once said to me: Your face is ever so pretty.”
Lay Sisters, Mother Superior, and choir nuns greet her as their own. She is in a pretty bonnet, dress, and shoes – too big but nice. A pillow, little pink blanket, and then, imagine, a stuffed toy. And so they lay her to rest, to sleep. Mother Superior puts the letter, and the Christmas paper bonnet and paper dress made with love, in a file.
Lemule and Lembert sometimes, though rarely, will talk about souls. They share a single soul; it’s a big, white, weightless, invisible one – very, very white because they are good.
Before the Basement Event
Centurion: “It was a tragedy told in the phrases I heard dropped here and there: Do the right thing. Stoned out of her head with tranquilizers – and what else? Still crying, resisting, this is the right thing to do. Absurd; children bringing up children! We know what is right. She still screamed, begged, cursed, struggled and wept. We gave her ether to shut her up. Only thing to do. It was right. Childhood sweethearts. Psychiatry and some weeks on Prozac. Stoned. We did the right thing.”
The much-too-young mother, hysterically protesting, has to be heavily tranquilized to do the “right thing.” She wakes up and also has to be tranquilized throughout the next week. Perhaps a year later she is informed the child was still-born. Terribly deformed. There was no partial birth abortion. “Someone” tells her where the child’s grave is, and she places a little angel there. Now and again she brings flowers.
After the Basement Event
Lemule and Lembert are called by Big Surgeon to another room. The intern’s gone. Another partial birth abortion? No, an 8 ½ month salted-out dead thing, really dead. Lemule takes it by the feet and heaves it into the sink, and leaves, talking with invisible Lembert.
The Centurion, now graduated, admits: I was a gross, coldly calculating liar. As far as I could tell the little one was perfect, and most anyone – had they been able to pick the child up – would have kept it. Including me.
The Inevitable Occurs
Some months later, Big Surgeon looks tired, suddenly much older, care worn, and exhausted. That year he retires. Somehow he knows perfectly well who robbed him. Big Surgeon left a life in ashes: divorced, two sons on drugs, he dies with cirrhotic liver failure the next year.
Before his “dark” mentor dies, Lemule dies of cirrhotic liver failure from alcohol Big Surgeon sotted him with. He dies in the hospital and is fed into the furnace.
Centurion: “Now baby ____ sleeps. I know what she would have looked like. The girl-mother ran off and married. It must have been to him. Now and then she walks a stroller into the little grave yard. The sisters know and say nothing; they never will, nor will I. There are flowers and always a few tears on October 30. In front of the tiny gravestone a child in pink bounces out of her stroller – such a resolute little package; a fighter just like her sister who sleeps.”
Centurion: “I have talked with Mother Superior; she saw me across the street watching, and knew. We talked and it goes no further. Mother Superior did say that once a tired older lady came, only once. I judge that the tired older lady did not think it was the right thing to do.”
Reverend: “Perhaps now that you have talked-out your torturous memories, you can find some peace in having done the right thing. What your ethics demanded of you.”
Centurion: “There can never be peace after the mind and soul-wrenching event I saw. But I do know the girl-mother has a wonderful daughter. Her husband, both children’s father, takes her every year to the baby’s grave. He stands by the car while she visits. She touches the small stone and wonders what the tiny life would have become. Then they go home and comfort one another in the lives they do have.”
Reverend silently prays for a tortured soul.
Centurion: “God – omnipresent in XYZ and Time, I think, I believe, I did no harm.”
We publish this true story in hopes that this reaches the hearts and souls of the people it should (no names, as they are not necessary and it would be unethical to expose lives with so much pain) . – M
Partial birth abortion is a real issue in America. There is a court case raging in the media right now. No issue is so personal. No issue is so vital to get right. In a country where we arrest people for abusing animals, we should demand humane practices in the medical community.