W.R. HAMMONS .COM. THE MAN. THE LEGEND. THE WEBSITE.
Sally Bayer’s water broke just as she and Wally were retiring for the night after a solemn Christmas Eve, the first such eve the Darcy household had spent without the presence of Frank and Nancy Darcy. Wally shouted upstairs for the help of his wife’s sisters, and, once Ann had entered the ground floor bedroom, he ran out of the house to wake Jim and tell him to fetch Dr. Smalls, the same doctor who had unsuccessfully attempted to save the baby’s grandparents’ lives eighth months before.
The labor was long and hard, lasting through Christmas morning and until the moments shortly after noon that Walter Elliott Bayer was born into the world, cleaned in a washbasin set up on his parents’ night stand, and placed in his father’s arms. Wally showed the baby to his two aunts as the doctor cleaned his wife’s forehead and made a hasty departure, which was perhaps due to the lingering memory of his failure under the same roof less than a year before.
That afternoon, the bedroom was straightened and cleaned, the new mother was tucked back into bed with fresh sheets, and “Elliott” was placed in a hand-me-down crib beside her which had held his mother and each of his aunts in succession. Ann and Deborah took the wagon into town to attend a church social that evening, and Wally and Jim retreated to the living room to smoke a pair of cigars and share a pint of gin that would be illegal in little more than a fortnight.
“How is business going for you?” Jim asked before choking on the unfamiliar fumes of his smoke.
“Better and better, I’d have to say,” Wally replied into the blaze he had lit in the fireplace. “I’ll be making another delivery on the first of February.”
Jim was silent, took a long while to suck on his own tobacco, then asked softly, “But it’ll be illegal then, won’t it?”
“It’ll be illegal, but that won’t matter. Enforcement will be either lax or non-existent.”
Jim, getting the hang of his newfound vice, exhaled slowly into the air warmed by the fire. “But is it right? I mean, no offense—”