Monday, August 29, 2011
A short story by Daniel A. Olivas
They say that he lived to be nine hundred and sixty-nine years old. Which is why, of course, we have the expression, “as old as Methuselah.” Genesis tells us – I think you’ll find it in chapter five – that Methuselah was the son of Enoch as well as having the distinction of being the grandfather of Noah. What a hell of a curse, if you believe it’s true. To live so long. To watch your offspring, and your offspring’s offspring, and so forth and so on for almost a thousand years dying and you just keep on going like that pink Energizer Bunny. That poor pendejo, cursed like that.
I don’t really know much more about Methuselah because, to be honest with you, I’m pretty much an atheist so I never was much on reading the Bible. I tried when I used to travel on business and stay at the Holiday Inn. I’d go through the drawers of all the dressers the moment I checked in just in case someone left something really valuable there. Never really found anything worth anything except one time I found an unopened bottle of Jack Daniel’s. That was pretty nice. I got pinche borracho that night. Not that I drink all that much but I just went through a goddamn ugly divorce so I guess I was entitled to drink a little. Anyway, I sometimes would thumb through that Gideon Bible.
Those Gideons were something else. About a hundred years ago, they made it their mission to make the Bible freely accessible to all people. And they did. Those pinche Gideons! I give them credit, though. Single-minded and successful at meeting their goal. Anyway, I would thumb through that Gideon Bible and sometimes it would almost be interesting to me but usually I got bored within five or ten minutes and I’d put it back and pick up the Yellow Pages to see if there were any good escort services in town. A habit, I admit, that led to the divorce. Ten years with Veronica down the tubes because I needed different snatch every time I went on a business trip. Black, brown, Asian and white. All kinds. My dick was a veritable United Nations. And I’m nothing but a stupid asshole who let my beautiful Veronica down hard. I should have stuck with the Gideon Bible. Not as fun, but fewer repercussions.
But, no, I’m not too religious though I do have a beautiful plastic replica of the Virgin of Guadalupe standing about four feet high in my backyard by my fig tree and to the left of my enclosed Jacuzzi. No Mexican can get through life without the Virgin even if he’s an atheist, agnostic or a born again Buddhist. La Virgen. Dark like los indios of Mexico. Appearing like she did to that little Indian, Juan Diego. And proving that the mother of Jesus was there for the indigenous people and not just for the white Spaniards. But I don’t believe it. Not a word. But it’s a helluva story, you’ve gotta’ admit. A helluva story. And the Virgin stands out back by my huge fig tree with her hands stretched out looking down to where Juan Diego should be down on one knee afraid to look up. But I didn’t buy him. I just wanted her all to myself. Always a ladies’ man, I guess.
Yep. The story of the Virgin is a great little piece of fiction. Like that Methuselah story. Goddamn amazing and truly unbelievable. It would be nice if it were true, I suppose. What would I do with all of those years? ¡Dios mío! I’m thirty-five now. Imagine! Nine hundred thirty-four years to go! First, I would figure a way to make it up to Veronica. But, I really don’t know how. Giving her the clap I got from that hooker pretty much buried any chance of reconciliation. She screamed at me over the phone when she found out – we were already separated by then but there was hope – and she asked how I could be so stupid because it could have been worse like AIDS. And I cried and apologized over and over knowing that it was useless to deny what I already suspected when I found that sore on my dick the week before. I remember that I prayed to La Virgen that if it were the clap, that I didn’t give it to Veronica.
But what a thing to say to La Virgen! A prayer that will never be published in any holy collection: Oh holy Virgin. It’s me, Enrique. Enrique Fonseca Silva, your humble servant. You know, I think that one time I forgot to buy rubbers and I had sex with that whore in the Holiday Inn, the one in Bakersfield? You know, that Asian one who did those amazing things with her pierced tongue? Of course you know. You see all. Well, I got the clap and I’m real afraid that I gave it to my wife, Veronica. So, please, oh holy Virgin, please, spare Veronica the clap. Don’t do it for me. I deserve what I got. But please spare her. Thank you.
Now that was a pinche prayer.
Anyway, maybe with a long life like Methuselah, I could come up with a way to make it right with Veronica. Perhaps I could spend a lot of time devising clever ways to heal her pain. But, maybe time wouldn’t help. I’m not clever. Maybe I’d just have more time to fuck up her life further. Well, I guess it doesn’t much matter, after all. I should be thankful that it was only the clap. And I should be grateful that Veronica and I never had kids. That’s the story of my life: being grateful for lesser calamities. Nine hundred and sixty-nine years of my life would be no blessing. I thank La Virgen that I’m not Methuselah. It can always be worse, can’t it?
[From the collection, Assumption and Other Stories (Bilingual Press).]