Ezra lying on his deathbed with a maze of tubes sprouting from his nostrils was still pigheaded. He would’ve wrung Doc’s neck right there, just for making the suggestion, were he not strapped into bed.
"You will take it," I said waving a bouquet of tiger lilies at him.
"Have you gone mad? They kept the goddamn news on all day, bombings in Jerusalem, in Hebron. It’s a Conspiracy. Does an Arab run this hospital?"
"You’re life. We’re talking about your life."
"They’re slaughtering our people. They’re savages. I will not have that filthy heart in my body."
"You could die."
"Then so be it."
I covered my ears, dropping the tiger lilies and had to stoop to pick them up. The petals seemed to be withering. Doc shook his head while taking a file from the nurse. She had such creamy legs much more slender than mine. I was happy Ezra didn’t notice.
"I worked like a dog to bring us to the States and I’d rather die like one than accept a filthy heart from a smelly Arab."
"And what about us?
"What about Rachel and Tovah?"
"Bring them to me. Get those weeds out of my face. I want to see them before they kill me."
"Ezra you’re killing yourself. And they’re not weeds they’re tiger lilies."
"What choice do they leave me? Bring me my girls. Are they reading their Talmud?"
My attention shifts to the empty bed on the other side of the room, Ezra catches me and I peer off into the hallway. Nurses and orderlies scurry about, idly chattering as if they’re at a party.
"They operated on him last night. He’s dead. What about Tovah has she been reading her Talmud?"
"When I’m dead and buried I’m going to expect you to keep up her studies."
Ezra’s face whitens as he shakes a finger. His eyes flutter and his arm falls limp off the edge of the bed. Doc scans the chart. Scratches something onto his pad and nods to me.
Two orderlies grab hold of the bed one double-checking to see if indeed my husband has been tamed. They push the bed out the door and down the hall.
Worry swells in my chest not because the operation will be a success- Ezra’s will is strong as a bull, but because when he learns that I’ve allowed the hospital to give him the Arab heart I’m afraid he will rip it out.
Efat stood with her arms folded tightly to her chest, a worried mother and less like a sorrowed wife. Her eyes focused on the empty bed on the other side of the room. Who did she come to visit? Efat always so selfish wants to ruin my last days. She gives me grief; she leaves my pride and joy home. Forget this filthy Arab heart. Bring me my Rachel and Tovah, they’ll bring me eternal life.
She looks over at the empty be again, then outside into the hallway. What she can’t wait till I keel over? Mocking me, look at her smiling at the doctors passing by. Look at her pity her pathetic husband.
Fellow Mexicanos waved to the frosty sculpture in the back of the Perez’s pickup truck. Half a churro hung from the snowman’s mouth, it had been a long ride. Quiquin wiped the crumbs from his lips.
The snowman looked so real that a few miles back somebody had placed a call with the authorities confessing that they had seen a little white creature, possibly a sombrero-wearing Martian speeding down the road.
Angie couldn’t wait to tell his friends in Oaxaca that he and his brother trapped the abominable snowman’s son and barely escaped the wrath of its twelve-foot mama.
Quiquin stuck his tongue out at his younger brother while Norma, against her better judgment, let Angie get thrown about in the truck’s hatchback.
She craned her neck away from Jovani, her youngest squirming on her lap, dunked her head out the window and begged Angie to put on his mittens. His fingers by that point were totally numb and he could barely keep himself upright let alone his snowy friend.
Norma prayed on her homemade rosaries that Angie would arrive in one piece.
By the time they crossed Pachuca it was too late. The slushy homunculus was nothing more than an ashen puddle. Angie blew on it with all his might, but couldn’t bring his snowman back.
Marcos jumped out of the truck to get some gas.
A pack of kids spilled out from behind the pumps. They dashed over to the truck, where Angie sobbed with his head between his legs.
A dirty-faced boy poked Angie, “Why is your truck so damn wet?”
“My snowman’s dead.”
“Snowman,” another scruffy boy cajoled.
The lot of them roared with laughter.
“It’s true,” Angie said, raising the half-eaten churro for evidence.
“What a crybaby. I bet that’s your pool of tears.”
“Shut your face.”
When Marcos climbs back into the truck Quiquin rummages through the cooler under his feet and digs out an ice-packed snowball. Quiquin winds up and hurls it at the dirty-faced boy clocking him behind the ear.
The other boys’ mouths drop.
Angie too is in shock. He jostles about as the car zooms off, his eyes intent on his big brother whose thumbs are now planted into his ears taunting the gas station gang. Angie joins in making his own goofy faces.
And so the story of the abominable snowman from the North was born in Mexico.
John's work has appeared in the Queens Ledger, Thunder Sandwich, Art and Mind, Hackwriters, Shore Magazine, The Olivetree Review and elsewhere. His screenplay For the Love of Auntie won at the 2003 NY International Indie Film and Video Festival.