I’ve talked about protesters before and how I often feel frustrated by them. Recently, as I looked out our bulletproof window, fixated on our local protesters, I daydreamed about how they must prepare for their day at the abortion clinic. I imagined Jude, a loud, black haired, fair skinned woman rising out of bed, her alarm clock waking her early. After her instant coffee, she sits at her Formica table and paints her fingernails a bright, blood red. Her cat jumps on her lap and suddenly, she wants a cigarette, but quit years ago and quickly crosses herself. She proudly eyes the signs placed near her doorway, ready to be hauled to the back of her large, gas guzzling SUV. Jude wishes she had someone to help her carry all the signs to her car.
Jude realizes some of the signs are fading and she may need to find new, large photos of aborted fetuses. As she picks up the phone to call Mary, one of her cohorts, a smile crosses her face because Mary must still have some old pictures of chemical abortions. “That will do the trick,” she thinks. As suspected, Mary does have very “raw” looking photos. “The more grotesque, the better,” Jude brightly tells her. Mary excitedly starts telling Jude that she thinks abortion rates are going down because when she called the clinic yesterday, pretending to get her granddaughter an appointment, the clinic had appointments available for today! They agree to talk more about it after Mass, where they’ll meet the other protesters.
Jude hears the weather alert on television and learns it will be very cold. It’s disappointing news. Whenever it’s too cold or too hot, the others complain and don’t want to walk very long. She doesn’t understand why they can’t be as dedicated as she is. Thumbing her rosary, she makes her goals for the day. She must stop at least two women from killing their babies. Quickly, she ran to find more pamphlets.
Outside the Cathedral, they all meet and Mary has very gruesome pictures, indeed. Jude feels giddy and decides she’ll carry the largest. She took aspirin with her coffee and is certain her arthritis won't kick in for a few more hours. Others brought extra signs to place on the windshields of their cars. The advertisement willd be great.
Like every Friday, they arrive outside the clinic, en masse, slowly picking up their signs. It’s windy and cold; John immediately starts hacking up a lung. He’s getting over bronchitis. Jude rolls her eyes behind her sunglasses and digs her hands deep into her black coat. Sighing, she loudly reminds them all that the terrible weather is just god’s way of punishing the sinners about to enter the clinic. All nodding, she begins passing out rosaries to each of them. All ten of them huddle closely in a circle and pray for the sinning women about to abort their babies. They pray for the abortion clinic workers to come out of the darkness and find new jobs. They feel just and pure and righteous. Jude leads the prayers and firmly instructs five to stay in front of the clinic and the other five to go to the back of the clinic. As they walk off, she yells, “Remember! If you see a car coming, pray loudly and quickly get in front of the driveway. We might save her from killing the innocent today!”
After a few hours, Jude begins thumbing her scarlet rosary; she stares at all the cars in the parking lot. Her eyes burn. “How could this town be filled with so many wicked women,” she wonders in disgust. Frowning, she angrily shoots a look at the newer protesters complaining their arms are hurting. John’s cough gets irritatingly loud and Mary says she’s dizzy. Grace suggests it’s Mary’s low blood sugar. Jude knows what they want: lunch. She’s dissatisfied. She still has 10 pamphlets and 15 little plastic babies left. No one changed their mind. The staff completely ignored her yells and pleas to find new jobs. Even on their smoke breaks. She clenches her sign. A red nail is chipped. It’s been an unsuccessful day. After prayer, she barks they can all meet at the new restaurant that just opened up. Her treat.
Through the window, I watch them pack up their bloody signs. Pamphlets dropped by clients, blowing away in the wind.