The Caul – the old wives tale (click here)
Then the doctor told her quite sternly that she must PUSH, and she did, and then she felt something being taken from her. It was a clear and distinct feeling, one she would never forget-the thing taken. Then the doctor held her son up by the legs-she had seen his tiny sex and known he was a boy immediately- and as the doctor groped for the air mask, she had seen something else, something so horrible that she found the strength to scream again after she had thought all screams were used up:
He has no face!
But of course there had been a face, Danny's own sweet face, and the caul that had covered it at birth now resided in a small jar, which she had kept, almost shamefully. She did not hold with old superstition, but she had kept the caul nevertheless. She did not hold with wives' tales, but the boy had been unusual from the first. She did not believe in second sight but —
Did Daddy have an accident? I dreamed Daddy had an accident.
Something had changed him. She didn't believe it was just her getting ready to ask for a divorce that had done it. Something had happened before that morning. Something that had happened while she slept uneasily. Al Shockley said that nothing had happened, nothing at all, but he had averted his eyes when he said it, and if you believed faculty gossip, Al had also climbed aboard the fabled wagon.
Did Daddy have an accident?
Maybe a chance collision with fate, surely nothing much more concrete. She had read that day's paper and the next day's with a closer eye than usual, but she saw nothing she could connect with Jack. God help her, she had been looking for a hit-and-run accident or a barroom brawl that had resulted in serious injuries
or ... who knew? Who wanted to? But no policeman came to call, either to ask questions or with a warrant empowering him to take paint scrapings from the WV's bumpers. Nothing. Only her husband's one hundred and eighty degree change and her son's sleepy question on waking:
Did Daddy have an accident? I dreamed ...