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Up two flights, rap rap on the door and Bill answers to my hello halfdressed and happy. "The baby's coming," is what I remember of him having said. And there is Joan sitting in the sun of those bright windows looking out over downtown and the bay, sitting on the bed, the mattress inevitably close to the floor, and the three kids--Jade, Hassan and Caledonia--kind of hushed and happy because they know the baby is coming and have been waiting too.

So Joany's been in labor since the night before and now sits very calm with a $3 tin watch in her hand timing the contractions--about every 7 minutes and getting closer together. So me and Billy just standing there kind of stunned and sunny, not thinking too much about what to do. "You got any arrangements made?" I says, and "no" is his reply.

It kind of goes like that, having a cigarette and a cup of coflfee in the warmth of the morning in the corner room with just one fact we're standing in--the baby's coming and we are smiling and blinking lumenant with speech in soft sounds. Nobody is thinking too much about hospitals though we figure lightly first about getting Joan into one of those places, but not too serious.

I sound on Joan if she thinks she got time for me to go phone around and see what I can do, get help I guess is what I meant, and she says there's plenty of time, so I cut out and drive over to Margo St. James's place on Nob Hill and start phoning.

I get ahold of Kaiser Hospital and after about seven switchings back and forth, I get ahold of some voice that says No, there is no chance of getting into their facilities without two hundred and fifty dollars in front even if the baby is on the way right now, and that the only thing that They, this voice can suggest is to take The Expectant to County Hospital, which said set of instructions vis-a-vis that exhausted brick pile of agony so oflends my ear I come near to throwing the phone across the room.

So, I phone Tumble to let somebody else know what's happening (who tells Emmett who sends an ambulance which nobody quite knows what to do with except send it away). So I clean out Margo's refrigerator of all its food and drive back over to the Communication Company where is lovely Sam and Cassandra and Claude and Helene who I break it down to.

Right away Claude is on the horn talking here and there. I get Cassandra and head back to Billy's, drop ofl Cassandra and split down to the store to get some smokes and am just rounding the corner on Geary when Claude pulls up to tell me he is on his way to Bolinas to get John Doss, a friend and head of pediatrics at Kaiser.

Upstairs is Cassandra cleaning the kitchen, making coffee and a bit to eat for the kids. It is late morning now and we relax--everything seems to be going along unmolested by even the quiet logic of time-- Cassandra softly busy in the kitchen, Billy sitting with Joan in the sunny [end page 413]


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