The party ends abruptly when Epiphany goes into labor. With a little assistance from the ambulance crew, Kai delivers the baby.
“You coming?” Toby asked Kai.
“We’ll drop by, I promise. I got stuff to do here.”
What he meant was they had paperwork to fill out, as well as a hell of a mess to clean up. The towels hadn’t been enough to contain it. Kai didn’t know if they’d ever get the blood out of the couch and suspected they wouldn’t. Not that Toby’s parents cared. They could afford a new couch.
“I can’t believe he was born right here at home!” Toby’s mother said, through joyful tears. She hugged Drew and kissed Kai. “You boys were wonderful! Thank you!”
“Just doing our job,” Drew said. “I think the couch is a gonner,” he said to Toby’s dad.
“No problem. Kai, will you help me take it to the road?” He bagged the cushions in black garbage bags.
“Sure will. Then we’ve got paperwork to do.”
“I got it,” Drew said. “Just need your John Hancock.” He pointed to the spot where Kai needed to sign. Someone had already filled it out.
“Thanks, guys. I wasn’t sure I could do that solo.”
“You’ll do great on your next one. Did good, kid,” Drew assured him.
The others congratulated him, slapping him on the back.
“I love delivering babies. We see so many people in agony at the end of their lives,” Drew said as he prepared to leave. “It’s great to see someone just starting out.”
“You don’t think the cord was a problem, do you?”
“Probably not. Doctor can tell you that. You did just right. You got a knack, kid. A real talent. Good job.”
That compliment meant a lot to Kai. He’d worked with Drew and his team for part of his training, and they knew their stuff. They weren’t expansive with their compliments, nor did they pull any punches when he screwed up. The criticism was always constructive, given in a positive manner, but they never told him he’d done well, unless he deserved it.
“Better head to the hospital now,” Toby’s father said. “Thanks, Kai.” He clapped him on the shoulder. “I’m glad you were here.”
“You’re welcome, Mr. McTeague.”
Toby’s father cuffed him, grinning. “Since when did you start calling me that? I’ve been Dad or Bob since you were seven.”
Kai chuckled, eyes twinkling. “Haven’t seen you in awhile….”
“You’ll always be family, no matter what. So, this is your girlfriend? Fiancée? Wife? We didn’t get a chance to be introduced. I’m Bob McTeague and my wife, Emily.”
“This is my girlfriend, Paisley Saunders,” Kai said. “We just started dating. She teaches at the club.”
“Really? What do you teach?” Emily asked.
She and Paisley talked happily as they cleaned up the towels and sheets from the couch, putting them in the wash. Kai and Bob picked up the couch and carried it to the road for the garbage men to pick up the next day.
“I can’t believe I’m a grandfather,” Bob said proudly. “Hell, I can’t believe my son’s a father! He’s still a kid!”
“He’s almost twenty-three,” Kai pointed out.
“Kid, I was twenty-five before I even got married. My son’s younger than his mother was when she had him. You can’t imagine how weird this is. When they told us Epi was pregnant, I freaked. Not that I was upset about the baby, but because I couldn’t figure out where all those years went. I remember him as a golden haired toddler playing on the beach, like it was yesterday. My son’s a father now. He better be a good one, or I’ll knacker him.”
“He’ll be great. He had a fantastic example.”
Bob gulped, nodding his thanks. “We’d better get ourselves ready to go.” He looked like he was going to cry.
Kai followed him back to the house in silence. The women were ready to go, so they washed their hands and headed in a mini-convoy to the hospital.
Epiphany and the baby were already in their room. Toby stood on the sidewalk having a cigarette. Kai joined him, not because he wanted a smoke, but because his friend needed him. Paisley went up to see Epi and the baby with Toby’s folks.
“So, how you doin’, Dad?” Kai asked his friend.
“Freaking. What if I drop him or something!”
“You’re not gonna drop him. You’re gonna do great. I thought you’d quit that habit.” He took a drag of the cigarette and kept it, stubbing it out on the pavement.
“I did. I bummed one off another dad. Dude, you totally saved the day. I can’t thank you enough for what you did for my family. Jeez, my family—my son—feels totally weird to say that. I’m a father!”
Kai handed him a stick of gum, popping one in his mouth as well. Leading Toby back to the hospital, they talked about how things were progressing with Paisley.
“Still not past first?”
“Got to second, if you count groping on the beach today.”
“Any groping counts, dude. Women of quality are worth waiting for. Epi made me wait almost two months.”
“No kidding? What’d you do?”
“Jacked off a lot. It was murder, but totally worth the wait. I’m her one and only, can you believe? How often do you find a girl our age, who hasn’t been around a lot?”
© 2019 Dellani Oakes