Title: If I Had Met You on Some Journey (The Final Miracle part 2)
I admit Noble and I would not have made it out of the country without the help of the gunmen. However, I still wanted to throttle Langly when I handed Noble's passport to the woman at the airline counter and realized he'd named my son, albeit temporarily, Joseph Ramone Hale.
I don't know why she helped us. I never even bothered to ask. But Marita met us at the airport with a brimming diaper bag and an air of confidence that I sorely lacked. She got us onto the airplane playing the part of the beaming new mother while I played the befuddled father. Except I wasn't playing. After takeoff, Noble fell asleep and I realized with a panic that crawled up my spine and seized me totally that I had never even changed a baby's diaper. Aren't babies supposed to have some kind of vaccinations? I know the passport said he'd had them all, but how do I go about finding a pediatrician in a country where I don't speak the language? How much formula am I supposed to give him at one time? I didn't even get to ask Scully if I should have him circumcised or not.
Oh, Shit. I have no clue what I am doing with an 8-hour-old baby, even if he is my son.
Marita isn't much help. She buries her face in a copy of Conde Nast Traveler and ignores me. We've exchanged a total of perhaps ten words. That's okay, I get the impression the only thing Marita knows about babies is how much they cost on the black market. We're headed for the Netherlands. Not because the weather's great or it's a better place to hide than anywhere else, but because they have the most liberal laws regarding homebirth on the planet. Basically all a woman has to do is show up with a baby at the Minister of Health's office and get a birth certificate. That way Noble will be legal and there is no messy faked paperwork to worry about. I don't know how long we'll stay. At least Scully would be happy that we're going somewhere that forty percent of the population is catholic. I'll make sure he's christened properly as soon as possible.
Scully and I agreed I would choose a new name for him that even she wouldn't know, but I just can't do it. In this brief span of time Noble has grown into his name and I just can't change it. I hope she'll forgive me, though it may be years before she even knows.
The thought helps facilitate my slow descent into depression. Today should have been the happiest day of our lives, Scully and I, but instead we parted ways with our little family scattering to the wind- Scully barely birthed of the placenta and Noble still covered in thick white vernix under his little outfit. Me still shaking inside and out from the wonder and desperation of it all. I love my son, but nothing could fill the void created by saying goodbye to Scully today. I am less than nothing without her. What do I have to give my son when I just left all that was good of me bleeding and helpless on a bed in Georgia?
Noble and I sleep through most of the flight. During the three layovers I somehow manage to feed him and change his diapers without breaking him. He melts sleepily into the crook of my arm as if he were meant to be there, then I realize this is *really* my son, my sole responsibility, and he does belong there, and what's left of my mind is totally blown again.
You'd be amazed what you can get in airports now. While I zero in on the closest Starbucks at each stop, Marita somehow manages to get a manicure during one layover and a massage during another. Too bad none of them offer single father crash courses.
I make my first purchase on George Hale's new MasterCard in the Amsterdam airport. In a small boutique I find a nice wide platinum wedding band and don't even bother to ask the price. I'm sure the shopkeeper wonders why the hell a man with an infant is buying a single wedding band, but I don't care to offer any explanations. The gesture is lost on Scully, of course, but it makes me feel better. In the only way I can be, I am wedded to her. And one day Silvia Hale will make her escape and come join us.
I have to keep believing in that or I will go quietly mad. Spending the rest of my life without her is not an option. It has been less than a day since I left, but I am desperate for her. After being returned to her from my abduction I swore I would never leave her. But here I am, working my way as far away from her as I can get. I need her, I long for her, I physically ache with yearning to put my arms around her and feel her soft hair against my neck as she lays her head on my shoulder. A little old woman offers me a handkerchief to wipe my tears as I sit at the terminal, Noble asleep on my lap.
Alone that night in the hotel I quietly fall apart. I am afraid Noble will stop breathing in his sleep, so I keep my hand on his chest most of the night, feeling the rise and fall under my palm, reassuring me that he's sturdier than I give him credit for.
The thoughts of Scully keep sleep at bay. My last image of her is burned into my heart. Seeing her take that tiny little pink- bundled corpse that the gunmen have procured from some morgue to present as our own child when the extra-terrestrial Child Protective Services show up almost kills me. She is so brave, so strong and noble, laying in that bed with her body still issuing forth lochia and milk, locked in its complex medical dance of birth and regeneration. But this is to be a dance with no partner- no babe to suckle at her breast so that her body will release oxytocin to stop her bleeding and endorphins to ease her postpartum pain. She is alone in a bed of lies and deception with enemies at every turn. Silently, fervently, I pray for her.
I am in despair over the complexities of the human heart. One part is bursting with pride and love for my son, while the other breaks and bleeds for my anchor and life mate whom I've abandoned. I told her to never give up on a miracle. I hope after all the battles she's fought she has the strength to have faith in one more.
The next morning Marita meets us at the hotel. I can't quite bring myself to say thank you, so instead I offer, "Can I buy you breakfast before we go?"
She pauses to light a cigarette. "No, thank you. My flight leaves in three hours. I suppose I'll have to take a rain check, though if you're lucky I'll never see you again."
I don't know what the hell that's supposed to mean, and my gut twists with fear. The thought of her having to present her to the Ministry of Health office as my wife and the mother of my son makes me feel ill. I already have a headache, and my eyes are glazed from lack of sleep. I've managed to ascertain from my own observations and some reading on www.parentsplace.com that newborns eat roughly every three hours around the clock. Noble lived up to this almost to the minute.
I have my first parental meltdown in the cab. Noble wails plaintively, but his diaper is dry and he won't take the bottle. I left the damned pacifier back at the hotel.
"Dammit, George, can't you shut him up?" Marita asks irritably, lighting another cigarette. She gives me this sly, feral grin that makes me think she's really enjoying calling me George. I wish I'd picked a better name. At least George is far better than Fox.
"Silvia," I reply, spitting out the word. It leaves a bitter taste in my mouth, knowing this is the name that should be Scully's alias. Silvia Hale, wife of George. It should be Scully sitting here, not this treacherous bitch. "How could you smoke around the baby? Put that damned thing out!"
"It won't kill him, George. You worry too much."
"At least roll down the window, for pete's sake!"
"I can't, the automatic control is broken. As the driver to roll down the ones in the front."
The driver speaks Dutch and doesn't understand my rather heated request that he roll the windows down. Marita finally puts the cigarette out when I threaten to physically push her out of the moving cab. Nobel sneezes and I wonder if he's going to get lung cancer from being exposed to the smoke.
Dear God, how the hell am I going to pull this off?
Things go smoothly at the Ministry of Health office. Marita hands over her documentation as Silvia Hale and is issued a birth certificate for Christopher Noble Hale.
"George, do you really just want to call him Noble? You aren't even going to give him a middle name?" Marita asks.
My mind draws a complete blank. The only name I can think of is that little boy from the Winnie the Pooh books.
"Christopher," I blurt out, "Christopher Noble Hale."
The woman who takes our information doesn't even blink when we present his date of birth as being six weeks older than he really is. Outside the office Marita declares the marriage annulled and wishes me good luck, then hails a cab and disappears.
"Well, Son, what the hell do we do now?" I ask. Noble sighs in answer. His little wispy auburn brows arch up as he stretches and insinuates his warm little body into the cradle of my right arm.
As the cab carries my son and me back to the hotel, I see graffiti in English on the side of an abandoned bakery. It reads, "Fear the passage of Jesus, for he shall not return." In that moment I remember the bible verse where Jesus cries out, "My God, why have you forsaken me?"
I think I know how he felt that day.