The Final Path That Is Our Destiny Pyramid Image.

M. Sandra Babcock
(c) Copyright 1999 by M. Sandra Babcock

It's odd how something will occur that can spark the imagination - This story is based on an actual "crossing of paths" that occurred in May and my imagination soared from this chance encounter. I continue to see the character I named "George" and someday may have the courage to actually speak to him.

My orderly life was in turmoil. Stomach bulged, water leaked as I slid the designer creation by Omar-the-Tent-Maker over my swollen belly. The contents ached to be released.

“George," I serenely said into the phone, "we have to go now?…!” It was a question and a statement. Pregnant women can do these things.

“Whaaatttt? You want me there?” George replied, half asleep, his lisp barely noticeable. I heard the catch in his voice and a thick gel of memories oozed.

“Madison, you do know he’s homosexual.” Mother’s pompous English monologue filled the room. I stiffened like starched laundry and nodded.

”Splendid eye for fashion,” a drowsy giggle escaped, “but, lacks ambiance. . .”

Translation - George was no Mel Gibson and I possessed no eyes. I had to cut her off at the pass or get caught in the stampede.

“I stopped looking at the package years ago, mother."

Phil's image flooded my mind as I spoke. Lush wind-blown flaxen locks, teeth whiter than mother's milk and a chiseled face that could make Michelangelo's David melt.

"George's ambiance is as alluring as a GQ model,” I said with valor. The teakettle howled and my composure begged to join in.

“How noble!” Mother coughed and spittle exploded from her mouth. She anxiously grabbed a lace hanky covered with faded bloodstains resembling age spots. My vow of meaningful time together hung limp in the summer solstice.

“Aaahh, GQ,” her speech slurred as the medication kicked in, “now your father could’ve been on that cover and more. The Spanish blood gave him such intense seductiveness." I smiled at the memory of Papa as I placed the exquisite bone china cup and saucer on the nightstand. The Victorian pattern was typical of my brutally honest yet wonderfully romantic mother. She sipped the Earl Grey and coughed into her hanky. "It will be good to see him again.”

I patted her hand. "Tell Papa I love him," I whispered.

"Madison, I asked if you still want me there."

“Of course you silly goose. Who else?…!”

The doors bounced against their hinges when George entered the maternity ward. The City of Spokane badge around his neck flailed furiously against the chic Armani shirt and his beaded sunburst sweater, draped loosely across his shoulders, disturbed the mundane surrounding us.

“I’m here,” George proclaimed, ignoring the glares. His strong fingers played with mine as I struggled to keep from mouthing off every known profanity.

“Breathe, Maddie. Easy, now.”

I looked up at a man I admired more than I thought imaginable.

“I’m not a horse, George!”

“Of course not, Madison dear. But you’re giving birth like one.” I shot him a contemptuous look as he pranced around the bed, checked my chart and scrutinized the baby's heart "blips" on the screen.

“No tears!” I blurted between the teeth clenching and panting.

“I know.” George swallowed hard and beamed a smile at me.

“Buck up. Fight the good fight and all that,” he mocked in mother’s voice. He stroked his meticulously shorn peppered beard and adjusted his glasses for effect.

"My parents are flying over." George read my eyes. "Yes, it's necessary, Madison. We're family."

George Everett Tacoma Powell, a gay, middle aged, thick-bodied man, knew me too well. He was not, as George put it, a "flaming" gay, but the subtle nuances of lisp, mannerisms of hand and stance were noticeable. George enveloped his sexuality like a soft warm chair – inviting and secure.

"Why?" he pointedly replied to my question of participating in a gay pride march downtown. "Do you march around announcing heterosexual pride?"

One subtle declaration was affixed to his right ear and the diamond chip sparkled and dulled much like his difficult life path. A hint of shame suggested his own private hell of a lost love and a letter that sliced his soul in two yet strangely made him whole. He was impeccably groomed, incredibly honest and sparked a kindred spirit within. One I never knew existed nine months ago when Phil was all I saw.

The arouse-o-meter was off the chart that night. It really was.

Phil’s fingers ran smooth across my inner thigh embarking a sexual delight rarely discovered in everydayness.

Where do they learn these things, these men?

Phil's mouth glistened with warm, sensual moistness and he smothered my face with his lips intermixing, once again, the wet with the dry, the morning with the night, the heat with the cold. His release elicited a whimper that voiced longing and difference. Somehow, between the glistening mouth and flying rubbers, an errant exchange of body fluids united creating spontaneous combustible human form.

I don't know how it happened, not in 1998. Perhaps it was the excitement or the need . . .perhaps a destined course.

Whatever it was, a miracle or tragedy (depending on one’s outlook) occurred that night.

George Everett Tacoma Powell said it was a miracle. So convinced was he that I naturally clung to him for support. And be became just that. His sexual preference did not erase the famed Powell strength that pushed his family to the top of the Seattle social heap. Powells stuck with their convictions no matter the consequence. Stayed the course. I admired that.

“What will you name the child?” George asked as we walked through the November snow. I was in my seventh month of pregnancy, before our falling out.

“Her name must invoke Spanish royalty since she will possess hair of dark chocolate and breathtaking black eyes,” he smiled and then whispered, “like her mother.” The Powell conviction rang clear.

“Mercedes,” I said with superiority.

“Oh, dear. As in the car? My word Maddie, think of something better than a foreign car for Christ sakes.” He almost looked mad.

“Not ‘Mersaydes’ you silly goose, ‘Mersaides' – her great-grandmother’s name. I think it’s rather lovely.”

“Ah, Mersaides,” he repeated approvingly. “And the last name?”

I eyed him angrily. I, too, had a private hell.

“Up your ass, George!” I muttered under my breath.

“Indeed,” he said, polishing his nails on his burgundy wool coat, rich and haughty like.

On a warm May afternoon, George entered my world. I was jogging at lunch to relieve the peri-menopausal symptoms I naively thought conspired against me. George smiled as he confidently strolled toward the doors to city hall. I never knew that we worked in the same building for years. Never knew that George Everett Tacoma Powell was of the Seattle Powells; his name a reflection of the deep roots embedded in Western Washington soil three hundred miles away.

The diamond earring glinted in the sun and the sunburst sweater struck odd in this city where difference rarely survived. Religious fervor hummed in my ears.

That was when I first noticed George Everett Tacoma Powell and I saw it then as I see it now. Conviction poured from him. I was in awe.

A car drove by and conviction was pulled out from under us like a rather ugly carpet.

"Get off the street, faggot!"

George’s smile sank, cheeks tinged red, eyes averted. I ran past, pretending not to notice but our paths had now crossed and for some unknown reason, rage grew like a wild weed in my gut. The car jerked to a halt at a red light. Laughter pierced the gas fumes and rang through traffic.

I don’t know how it happened, not in conservative Spokane. Perhaps it was conviction . . .perhaps the crossing of paths.

Whatever it was, opportunity was in my grasp as was a wad of greasy blonde hair with my fingers firmly pulling the young man’s head through the opened window. Well, I had gone this far, so my mouth had to enter the picture.

"You son of a bitch!” I hissed. “Who the fuck do you think you are?"

Ok, so Dudley Do-Right I'm not and I was quickly becoming aware of this as the remaining trash stepped from the junk heap with anger in their eyes, until George - the gay, the faggot, the queer - stepped in while the surrounding populace fused with the sidewalk. The fervor that hummed a few moments before fell like rubble at my feet.

"Maddie, start pushing." George's tender brown eyes encouraged me to continue.

"God, George, this is hell!" He stroked my sweat soaked hair, moved behind and heaved me up a’la Lamaze style.

“Breathe, Maddie. Now, push!”


“Good job Maddie,” Dr. Maxwell peeked over the draped sheet. “Almost there!”

“Maddie, I’m thankful you called,” George whispered. His eloquent straightforward words hinted to more.

“Think Phil is thankful?” My tongue bit of caustic sarcasm.

“Why are we compelled to procreate?” he asked, ignoring my disdain.


“Take my hand.” I nearly ripped his thumb off. He winced.

“Is it our innate fear of succumbing to mortality?”

Panting, I looked up at him, “Jesus, George, philosophy can wait for Christ sake. Get a grip, will ya.”

“Madison,” his eyes reflected dark, forgotten coat pockets, “I know I'll never. . .I could never. . .”

He was struggling. I never heard George struggle with the spoken language. Words were inherent manifestations in the Powell lineage.

“I'll never be the birth father, but I so wish this child was mine . . . ours. Biologically, I mean.”

I waddled up-stairs to George’s room noticing my arm propped on my mushroomed stomach. The thought of all the pregnant women I saw in my forty years using their blossomed bodies as a shelf swished through my mind like a fast moving river. Never would I reduce myself to such an abysmal stance.

Never say never.

George had an arduous week as Christmas approached and his meticulous care of clothing suffered. Washing some of his shirts was being a good roomie; a helpful roomie . . . looking back, perhaps a curious roomie was more like it.

Even now, I don’t know what caught my attention. In the dark crevasses of my soul, I believe I already knew.

"You bastard!” I shouted, my face red as new sunburn. I had all I could do to keep from striking him. Instead I threw the letter and it bounced off his cheek like a rubber ball. George stood stoically before me, never flinching, silent as I continued.

“All arranged. Like some pre-planned plot in a sick novel.” My face contorted in disgust.

“Never pre-planned, Madison," George quietly replied slowing shaking his head. "I loved Philip but I had no knowledge of his ruse. He knew my desire for a family and my admiration for you, Maddie.”

“Bull shit, George!” I screamed, tears streamlined my face. “How could Phil know I would become pregnant from one night?” My hands flew in all directions as if dismissing cigarette smoke.

“He didn't. He challenged fate . . .and won."

That's when I struck him, but I saw Phil's face.

"I know this sounds bizarre - almost twisted, really,” George said, gingerly touching his stinging cheek, “but I love you Maddie. I love this child. I still love Philip, in a crazy, unorthodox way."

Exhausted, I sat on the winged back chair that once held my mother's frail body, and wept into the rich tapestry arms.

"Philip's letter spoke of betrayal and I was devastated. Anger numbed my soul until I embraced it from Philip's perspective - free-spirited, narcissistic Philip. . .leaving a part of himself." George tapped his chin and smiled at an echo from another realm. "Simple yet complicated. So like Philip."

The echo lifted. "I knew I had to enter your world, Madison."

I threw him out, despite the determined jaw that jutted out in defiance and pain, despite the fact that I knew what he said was truth. I told him to get out, now, right now. Never come back. Never say never.

I felt so used.

Within a week, I felt so alone.

I longed for my parents and clung to mother’s last words like barnacles to a boat.

"At times the path seems rather obscure, doesn't it dear? Listen to the stars, stay the course, love wisely. We will be listening."

My mind drifted to September when autumn struck early with its cool earthiness, delicious colors. George took charge of the funeral arrangements. I discovered death makes the living immobile. He proceeded on, calling friends and family, florist and preacher. On the day of mother's funeral, he insisted I arise and walk the final path that is our destiny. You must say goodbye, he said. Leaves tumbled before us, in a slow methodical dance of life ending.

The contractions eased and my hand instinctively lay gentle on his cheek. “George,” I whispered, “listen to the stars, stay the course,” I managed a pained grimace, “and never say never.”

A tear slipped down; a smile split his face. The tentacles of our diverse paths embraced us in brief euphoria.

“Ok, Maddie, push!” Dr. Maxwell directed, signaling George to assist.

Mercedes Regulado Olivarez Powell slipped from my body into the arms of a man of family and history, a man of dignity and conviction, a man of weakness and flaws. The only man she should know as Papa.

But that was not to happen, not here in conservative Spokane where difference rarely survives.

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