Baby In The Basement

( 2 )


A baby born in a dark dirty place wakes up: shivering, alone, abandon. It cries its first cries from a dirt hole in the pitch black. It does not know its mother's love will come back for it. . . . even from the grave.

The 1950's have a reputation for being happy days but for eight boys morning the death of their mother they are very dark days.

Mattie Thomas did not expect to die. She certainly did not expect ...

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Baby In The Basement

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A baby born in a dark dirty place wakes up: shivering, alone, abandon. It cries its first cries from a dirt hole in the pitch black. It does not know its mother's love will come back for it. . . . even from the grave.

The 1950's have a reputation for being happy days but for eight boys morning the death of their mother they are very dark days.

Mattie Thomas did not expect to die. She certainly did not expect her sister's betrayal; and nobody expected Mattie to "stay" in the house.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781456731359
  • Publisher: AuthorHouse
  • Publication date: 2/24/2011
  • Pages: 180
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.41 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Baby In The Basement

By Donna Doty


Copyright © 2011 Donna Doty
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4567-3135-9

Chapter One

Sometime in the early spring of 1957, Mattie Thomas birthed a baby girl in the basement of her Sixteenth Street, two story, old, white wood, Victorian home. She did it as casually as she did all her other chores that day, and although she did it discretely, she placed very little significance on the act itself. Miscarriage was an occasional occurrence, somewhat welcome now. Childbirth was not new to Mattie; she had eight children, all boys.

Five of the boys: John and Albert age seven and eight, Wesley and Harmon age nine and eleven, and the oldest, Eddie junior age twelve, were in school. Two of the boys: James and Buddy age five and four, were outside playing tirelessly, racing old red painted scooters up and down the sidewalk from corner to corner. The baby, Jack was fourteen months old. He was confined to his crib, noisy and rebelling his mid-morning nap.

The first twinge of confirmation that a miscarriage might be on its way had happened earlier as Mattie pulled the big black skillet out from the cupboard to cook the usual pancake breakfast for her family. It was a small momentary cramp, but it was meaningful. She had noticed, when she woke up that morning and used the bathroom, that her undergarments had a few, small, pinkish stains in them.

The cramping had been minimal but timely consistent, resembling more like a live birth labor than like the cramping of past miscarriages. She attributed this to the fact that she could be a little more pregnant than she had been in past miscarriages. Her body usually aborted by the eighth week if it was going to do so. She guessed she could be as much as four months into a pregnancy. She never got pregnant or had periods when she nursed a baby. Baby Jack had nursed a year. It had been almost four months since he had been weaned and her menstrual cycle had not resumed. It could be either one.

Carrying a large wicker basket of laundry down the basement stairs, she felt a warm gush of water run down between her legs and wondered just how big a fetus in a miscarriage could have gotten by four months. It could be much bigger than a large clot on a Kotex pad. It might, almost, even be shaped like a real baby. The plumbing in the old house was not very good; it might even be big enough to clog up the toilet.

The left side of the basement floor was a cement slab and partitioned off into a laundry room. The middle of the basement, where the big coal burning stove sat, had a loose brick floor and beyond that, to the far right, where the coal shoot was, the floor was dirt.

She sat her laundry basket down by the washer and went over to the area of dirt floor. It occurred to her that in the nine years she had lived in the house she had never actually set foot in that area, it was an obsolete area now that they had gas heat upstairs; yet a small pile of coal and a coal shovel remained. It was a dark area. She could not see the dirtiness of it, but she could feel and smell it. Unconsciously she wiped her hands on her apron and reached for the shovel; it would be okay to dispose of the afterbirth here. She would not be touching anything. She would be careful not to raise any dust that could bring germs up into the air and risk infection. She dug an off square hole about a foot deep and a foot wide and spread flat the dirt to one side. Then, after scrubbing the black coal dust from her hands, she returned to her laundry task while waiting for the cramp that would dispel what had begun to form in her womb; it was not the only chore she had all in a day's work.

Her time came just as she was putting her last load through the wringer from the rinse tub. She had been fighting the familiar pressure in an effort to get the clothes up and drying on the line. She knew once she had aborted she would have to lay down a couple of hours to keep down excess bleeding. But bearing down pains became too insistent to ignore and as much as she fought them, her body had control. The estimated four month miscarriage simulated all the properties of a regular term birth.

Bent over, she slowly walked to the edge of the cement floor while removing her apron and dress. They had to be off as not to touch the dirt floor. She dropped them at the edge of the cement floor. She would put them back on when she returned upstairs. Her undergarments, she removed and wrapped around her neck so as to keep them out of contact with the dirt. She would need them to put between her legs when it was over. They would not go upstairs. They would be washed out in the laundry tub when she cleaned herself up afterwards.

She squatted over the hole she had dug, allowing only one hand to touch the dirt in an order to keep her balance. It was much more difficult than she had anticipated. She pushed for the first time and nearly lost consciousness as a blinding burst of pain ripped through her body. Beads of sweat formed on her forehead as she waited for the next moment she could push. When it came she held back, fearing the pain of it being as the one before had been, but only for a moment because to push was to be over and done with it quicker. She pushed; the pain was bearable and ordinary. For a moment there was no discomfort at all. It was as if her body had gone numb. That did not bother her. She had experienced this reprieve in previous real births. It would not last long. What did bother her was the sound. She could hear blood dripping into the hole beneath her. She had never birthed a child in a squat position before, she was not sure if her blood loss was normal. Suddenly the urge to push was there again and she took a deep breath and held it while pushing in her greatest effort. Pain ravaged through her lower back and genital area as her body began to violently shake; then, there was instant relief as she felt the passing. It made a plopping sound as it dropped into the liquid filled hole.

Her body kept trembling and she felt very cold. She did not feel that this was entirely abnormal. She had experienced this in childbirth before. In spite of her cautions about the filth of the environment, she moved to one side of the hole and knelt on her knees; squinting through the dimness, she tried to see the size of the fetus. It was small but it seemed to have entire shape. With her clean hand she reached into the hole and felt the shape in the warm pool of blood. It seemed to be face down so she moved it and felt the umbilical cord as the tiny body slipped around face up in her hand. She reached up and pulled a hair pin from the bun in her hair; then, opened the pin with her teeth, and holding it open with one finger, she reached down and felt for the cord. Manipulatively, she clamped the cord with the hair pin, not really thinking about why she felt the compulsion to do that, Again, squatting over the hole, she passed the afterbirth. Again she reached in and felt the fetus. It was warm but still, very still, without pulse.

She stood slowly, feeling very dizzy. She reached for the shovel and stopped as a wave of maternal feelings briefly swept over her. It had been a baby. Of course a fourth month fetus could not live but it had been more than a miscarriage, it had almost been a real baby. The moment of remorse passed and curiosity dictated that the hole not be covered yet. She had birthed eight boys and she wondered if, this child might have been a girl. She touched it lightly between its limp legs. It seemed to be a girl and not another boy; unless it was too young to have developed. Birthing a girl was difficult to believe.

Not far from where she stood, there were several cardboard boxes full of old rags and newspapers. She dumped one out and turned it upside down directly over the hole. She would come back later with a flash light for a closer look before burying the tiny, little body. Placing the undergarments between her legs, she tried to get over to the wash sink without trailing too much blood, but the bleeding was heavier than she had expected. She unhooked a hose and washed herself and the cement floor. Blood continued to run so profusely that cleaning the floor continued until she folded two towels and held them in place between her legs. Knowing she had to lay down and rest very quickly, she put all the wet and blood soaked clothes into the big coal burning stove where she could keep them secret and retrieve them later to wash.

Naked, she went upstairs and laid an old blanket under the sheets before getting into her bed. She felt weak and tired. The clock on the wall told her it was one o'clock. The older boys would not be home from school until two-thirty. She would have to put off sleep until then. She could not leave the four and five year olds, Buddy and James unsupervised outside. She wished those little ones would come in soon. Perhaps she could make them lie down and take a nap for a while. Vaguely she heard her fourteen month old son, Jack crying from his crib in the next room. Perhaps she could risk getting up just long enough to get him a bottle and some crackers........

"We're hungry," the two young boys complained at their mother's bed side when they came in from outside. Mattie opened her eyes and saw peanut butter and jelly smeared across their faces, The clock on the wall said two o'clock; just thirty minutes more and the older boys would start coming home from school.

"Get the baby a bottle of milk," she whispered. "Please......"

Chapter Two

Vivian Belfast had been entertaining her Thursday Bridge club when the call came in.

"This is Sergeant Fally of the LA police department. May I speak with Mrs. Belfast please?"

"This is she," Vivian said alarmingly.

"Do you have a sister, Matisha Thomas?"

She relaxed and drew a few conclusions: one of Mattie's brood was probably in trouble with the law, perhaps trying to borrow bail, perhaps calling her to come pick him up so his parents would not find out. Poor Mattie, poor pitiful Mattie, married to that fat dirt clod with his worm always hard. She had warned Mattie year after year at the family's annual Christmas party to throw the pig out of her bed before she had more children than she could take care of but Mattie never listened. Instead, every year there was a new little face at the holiday gathering to buy for. If it had not been for the generosity of herself and her husband Oliver, the brood would not have ever had a decent Christmas. That had been their duty, but no more than that. She would not bail out any of Mattie's children, not even her favorite the twelve year old, Eddie junior. But it probably was not little Eddie anyway. It was probably that fat, eleven year old, tubby slob, Harmon. He was a spitting image of his father. He had probably been arrested for stealing piggy bars or a bag of lemon cream filled cookies.

"Yes, I have a sister Matisha Thomas," Vivian sighed annoyingly, looking over at her guests.

"There has been a little trouble here at your sister's house. Can you be here within the hour?"

"No. I most certainly cannot," Vivian said sharply, then in almost a whisper, curiously asked, "What kind of trouble?"

"I can't discuss it over the phone, but if you can't come and care for the children at this time, then we will have to take them into custody."

"Are you at my sister's house right now?"


"Let me talk to her," Vivian demanded.

"She isn't here," Sergeant Fally replied. "There has been an accident. I can't discuss it over the phone, Mrs. Belfast."

Vivian suddenly thought she understood. The policeman had bad news for her, very bad news, and since he had called her and not Mattie's husband Edward, she thought she knew what had happened. Edward must have had a bad accident at work. Mattie was probably at the hospital with him right now and had asked Mr. Fally to call her to come babysit; how else would he have her phone number? She was unlisted in the phone directory. But why would a policeman be at Mattie's house? Edward was a machinist at a factory. If he had met with an accident, they would likely call Mattie and tell her what hospital he had been taken to. Policemen did not come to your house to inform you of an accident unless the news is so bad you cannot be told on the phone. Maybe Edward was dead.

"Oh lordy," Vivian groaned. As much as she detested Edward, the thought of him being fatally injured was unbearable. If he was dead, who would support Mattie and the brood? What kind of obligations to her sister would she guiltily be forced to attend to?

"Are you coming over?" the voice on the other end asked gently.

"I'm coming," she said flatly and hung up.

She walked very slowly back to her seat at the card table and slumped into her chair.

"Trouble Vi?" her card partner asked.

"Tragedy in the family," she sniffled, wiping dry eyes. "I must leave immediately and tend to my sister's eight sons"

Chapter Three

"Yep, deader than a door nail," the four year old Buddy giggled, poking his mom gently in the back with a broom stick.

The five year old James, was not sure it was so funny; Mommy was not sleeping right.

Baby Jack was screaming again. Buddy dropped the broom and went in to throw his bottle back in the crib. It was, baby Jack's favorite game and had been for as long as Buddy could remember him using a bottle. Baby Jack would throw the bottle out on the floor and scream until someone came in and gave it to him again. Sometimes the bottles would break and his mother had started not to give baby Jack bottles in the day time anymore, but today she was very tired and wanted to take a nap. Buddy guessed that was why his mother let the baby have a bottle again. He had filled one for Jack like she had asked him to.

When Buddy returned to his mother's room, James had started to cry. He was shaking his mother's shoulder and calling her name repeatedly.

"Lets' go out and ride the scooters," Buddy said unconcerned. The shade from the big Maple tree was almost on the drive-way; that meant John and Albert, who were both in the second grade, would be home soon. They were always the first ones home. Buddy and James always met them on the corner. James ignored Buddy's suggestion. He crawled up and on his mother's buttocks and began to beat her furiously on the back. Buddy backed up a few steps; if James woke her up that way, she was going to be very cranky and mad. But Mattie did not move and Buddy edged a little closer. He reached out and hit her once on the back himself. He grinned as he mischievously jerked her hair as hard as he could, then he ran out of the room. Surely that would wake her up and James was going to get in trouble for everything. Then it got very quiet and Buddy peaked around the door to see why James had gotten so quiet. James was lying on his stomach next to her, face to face, whispering her name and trying to pull her eye lids up, then he stopped and just lay there looking at her. Buddy came around to that side of the bed and saw his mother had her eyes open now but she was not moving. He started to giggle; she was playing games with them, but when James suddenly burst out in screaming sobs and crawled up on top of her, Buddy backed away from the bed. His mother still was not moving. She was not even trying to help James stop crying. She always helped them to stop crying. Then James did stop crying; he reached his arm out beckoning his younger brother to come to him up on the bed to be comforted.

"She's deader than a door nail, Buddy," James whimpered.

Baby Jack began to cry again and Buddy ran to fetch his bottle again, glad to have a reason to leave his mother's room. His mother's room was scaring him, like things that got under your bed at night when all the lights were turned out.

James cried out for Buddy to come to him. He needed Buddy to comfort him. When Buddy did not come, he felt angry and cursed him vehemently. "You stupid poop-hole! You Nazi dingle berry! You KKK nigger! You commy bastard!" He cursed him with every profanity he had ever learned from his older brothers, and then he begged him again to come back. But Buddy would not come. Buddy did not understand death like he did. Buddy did not see the old woman's cat next door when it turned all stiff and dead laying in the street. Buddy was not there when the old man next door wrapped it in newspapers and threw it in the garbage can. Buddy was sick with the measles when John and Albert dug it out of the trash can and poked holes in it to see all the maggots come out. Buddy did not know about things that fall asleep and do not wake up. Buddy did not know that the maggots could eat Mommy up if they did not stay right there to protect her.


Excerpted from Baby In The Basement by Donna Doty Copyright © 2011 by Donna Doty. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2013

    Very good

    About 180 pages long, at times heartbreaking but never scary. The summary makes it seem like a horror story but it isn't and I don't think it was intended to be. It was boring in a few places but since its pretty short things get wrapped up quickly. Typos galore and a vicious and abiding confusion on the author's part to accurately use your and you're correctly drove me nuts but I do reccommend it to one and all.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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