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Good Morning Lady Jane

Henry’s curled lips pursed a thin smoke trail into the air of a waiting area segregated from the operating room where doctors prepped his wife for a cesarean.

In labor for eight hours, Henry had been fleeing the hospital room every fifteen minutes for a smoke area to chain smoke four cigarettes a session.

Since going into prep an hour prior, now, Henry spent his time between peering through the portal window of the OR and pacing the hallway. Regarding the near future, Henry didn’t thumb at the end of his cigarette—but sat watching the different corners of the room as if a camera in each waited to record nerves he concealed with acting.

In the OR, fate prepped the orchestration of a dramatic changes in store for Henry. For him, the performance of his life? As assured as the smoke at the end of the cherry plumed in a curve now and again by the gentle flick of a foot at the far end of a lanky calf crossed over a bony knee.

Henry’s long right arm rested in a crack between bench and the green plastered wall, a spindly hand caressing the ornate curve of its antiqued cherry wood.

A left hand rested on the other knee.

Above him, the plume straightened into a singular tobacco contrail that dissipated at the face of a blue ceiling. It reminded Henry of dying storms in Idaho that retreated west, or the trailing edge of a Typhoon’s last gasp leaving his task force in peace somewhere in the Pacific during World War II.

Henry patted the forehead with the back of his mute left hand checking for dampness. He’d powdered the brow last trip to the head but he’d never confess said facts to his fans.

The show was about to begin.

His mind followed the will of the smoke; he knew corralling the vapor into script at hand would be as effective as pushing waves away from shore.

Any attempt to do so entertained the nerves.

The nerves entertained the sweat.

It didn’t matter really—if sweat showed, no one watched this grappling except Henry Fonda.

Henry Fonda considered this event the fading vapor of youth.

New performance.

Different curtain.

Inside the OR, his wife’s vessel held ready to bestow his stage-prop and “by God”, he mumbled, it had better be a boy.”

The surgeon’s scalpel carved a promenade of light intruding into the quiet world of a fetus at peace.

It recoiled against the shock, squirming to the farthest wall.

It flinched at the grip of a hand pulling it towards the light.

It held its breath for the time it took to travel through the birth canal into the world and onto a cold metal tray, where the surgeon flung her with a splat.

The shock winced air into her lungs.

The doctor gripped her cord by one hand twisting it into a loop in a fist like hemp rope and cut it with surgical scissors; thusly severing the closest bond she, Jane Fonda, would ever have with her mother Frances.

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