THE BABY BOOM: James Nolan, captain, US Army, and Los Alamos obstetrician

October 6, 2014

Petey didn’t pity whores. “Son of a….”

Pitched low like that, her voice dissolved in growls.

“Peckerhead.” She had Groves pegged. His S.O.

P. bypassed morals, even common sense.

Prostitution? If his precious bachelor

physicists pushed hard enough. And how they

pushed! They made WAVs wash up at my clinic,

posed shyly with eyes raised heavenward, feet

propped in steel stirrups, complaining of a

pain “down there,” a hellish stench. I calmed them,

plumbed and cultured hurt vaginas, wiped

puffy lips that wept raw umber butter.

Penicillin bought me names. I brought them

post haste to the base C.O., whose sworn “I’ll

pin those bastards to the wall like bugs” proved

premature. Groves pondered the facts, the girls’

persuasive tears, the young men’s equally

passionate appeal, and then our General

pandered to the young folks’ “basic needs,” though

previously, his stout Victorian

politics taxed Petey’s knack for nicknames:

“Pecksniff.” “Gigi.” “Prissy prima donna.”

Pained by the base’s birthrate data, he’d

prohibited “all these unauthorized

pregnancies.” The wives were livid, or laughed.

Privately, I wished Groves’ foolish fiat

possible. The hospital nursery

pilfered beds from other wards; left injured

patients waiting; shunted doctors to new

posts; deferred research; defied the mortal

purpose of a weapons lab. Instead, while

parents dandled puckered newborns, colleagues

proved blast estimates in nearby canyons.

Percussive shockwaves echoing across

Pajarito Plateau shook iron roofs,

preaching the ethics of war, its excess

productions. Reproduction, sex, love, all

perversions, surplus, excrescences. Yet

piled in bassinets, cribs, bureaus, babies

poured from our assembly line, swaddled in

patinas of grease, bleating like lambs, limbs

plump, sprouting the finest, buttery fleece.