Fat People, Baybie Denton, excerpt

Baybie Denton lives in a trailer behind the dump. Her stepbrother Floyd lives in a nearby trailer perpendicular to hers so he can’t look in her windows, least that’s what Baybie thinks. Baybie is blind from birth and Floyd sees to her needs when he’s sober enough to do so.

Baybie wasn’t blind at birth, but rather from birth. Doc Limoges never drank until after office hours, but Baybie was born at 2 AM in a breach birth in the trailer she lives in today. Doc Limoges was called just before midnight and had to be roused from the leather chair behind his desk by Baybie’s father Pearlie. Doc Limoges grabbed his birthing things and hurried out to the trailer in his Plymouth with Pearlie Denton trailing behind on his Harley.

The birth was hard, but Doc Limoges had delivered many children under difficult conditions, even when drunk. Pearlie made him some coffee, boiled water, tore up clean rags and did as he was told. Emma Denton delivered a nine-pound baby girl which they weighed on the rusty bathroom scale.

Doc Limoges checked her for jaundice, counted fingers and toes and did what he had done for countless newborns in Lamoille County. He dipped a cotton ball into the vial of boric acid in his medicine bag and washed out the newborn’s eyes, but the vial was not boric acid, though it looked the same, it was the formaldehyde and methanol solution he used to sterilize hypodermics when his autoclave broke down last year. The newborn baby cried out in pain. He smelled the vial and realized what he had done. He said nothing for a moment, rinsed out her eyes and turning to Emma, he said, “Your little girl was born blind.”

Emma cried out and asked “How can that be?” Doc Limoges simply said, “God’s will” as he packed up his black bag and left.

Shortly thereafter Pearlie left for the logging camps in New Hampshire where he worked the spring log run, only he didn’t return that fall and the monthly envelopes with a few bills and no note stopped coming in June. Emma later heard he’d gone off to Canada with a camp cook.

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