Rafi and Dimitri have been friends for a quarter century. Now they love the same woman. But it’s not that simple…
Rafi, a child of the Israeli socialist Kibbutz, tries to make meaning of a life without Socialism when the Soviet Union implodes. Dimitri, the child of parents who escaped Soviet Socialism, met Rafi on the Kibbutz because a fellowship to Israel was the quickest route out of the clutches of immigrant culture. The two young men bond over their shared passion for music, but that’s where their similarities end. While Rafi bounces between the US and Israel, finally pursuing a musical career in Philadelphia and New York, Dimitri skates along the surface of his life, becoming a teacher in Philadelphia only because his sister is pregnant and his wealthy brother-in-law volunteered to set up field hospitals in Afghanistan.
Enter Frida, who has been pouring alcohol, schooling, sex, and success into a hole left when her mother abandoned the family for the bright lights of Cozumel when Frida was only eight years old. Now a personal disaster sent Frida’s life crashing from of its precarious perch, and off to the great El Norte to drink herself to death out of sight of her son. When she lands in the lives of the two men, which one will claim the broken trophy – and will either man save Frida from herself? Love and History buy front-row seats in this character-driven, 89,000-word drama.
According to the author, this book contains explanations of how to use drugs.
The author has rated this book PG-13 (questionable content for children under 13).
Chapter 44: No Exit (2007)
Eighty years earlier, three people met in the mind of one Jean-Paul Sartre, only to discover that they were all dead, and resident in Hell. Each passageway out of the labyrinth returned to the holding cell, where the three members of the cast were to rot throughout eternity.
The fetus was approaching three months, and Frida sat at the theater, where she had just seen the play, as performed by Sandrina, Tonto, and a new cast member named Humberto. The cast and company were socializing in the Green Room for a meet-and-greet sponsored by the late-night café across Calle 8. Those who were up to it would proceed there for the after-party. Frida sat in her favorite seat, row H, seat R3, staring at the full-page ad she had taken out in her firm’s name. The house grip had turned the stage lights off, and had turned two of the three banks of house lights out before noticing her sitting quietly, head in hand, with her unfocused gaze reading the same words again and again, “Delia SA. El Poder para Atraer. La Habilidad para Ganar.”
The power to attract – that’s not my problem. The ability to triumph. What is victory here? If I have the abortion, I return to a life that was perfectly happy, but something has changed. My body would be what it was, but my spirit has already metamorphosed. Pre-pregnant plus abortion does not quite equal post-pregnant. César hasn’t talked to me in five weeks except to ask, “Have you scheduled the procedure yet?” ¿mande – ‘procedure?’ Like, have I scheduled an appointment to remove a wart or to get bikini-waxed. Procedure. Sterile as – no, even more sterile than the room it will be done in. Nothing about, “Does Gabriel miss Alejandro?” Maybe he’s too busy concocting lies to tell Alejandro as to why he hasn’t seen his little ‘brother’ Gabriel. Has five weeks of separation been enough that the boys can pick up where they left off, even? I have run out of lies to tell Gabriel. If I have the abortion, maybe I can just pretend like I did after I told him and before we went to Cozumel.
On the other hand, if I give in to this man just because he doesn’t want to be a man and own the mathematical inevitability of this pregnancy, this fetus, this CHILD who is becoming more human every time I think of him, what am I? Am I victorious because I achieved some mythical status quo ante where I am the only one who notices that it isn’t all the way it was? César is certain – but do I win if I return, defeated, desembarazada but more embarrassed, more humiliated, more weakened that ever the weirdo who invented our Spanish word embarazada could have imagined?
Okey, I have the child. Even if it is a girl, she has César’s hair, or César’s eyes, or César’s laugh, or even César’s worry lines in her forehead. I look into her eyes and I see César staring back at me, and César is long gone. Maybe with a new lover. Maybe married. Puebla isn’t that big – maybe he gets married to someone else, had children by her, and I and Aracely are raising Gabriel and this one, and I see them on the street. She, whomever the devil she may be, with my husband, my stepchild, my life! Then we have the Mexican War of the Roses and Puebla burns to the ground. Or at least it should.
Then what if I have the child, and I move to my aunt in San Luis or Arqueo in Buenos Aires or Magda in the US. What about DELIA? The company really is my daughter. I can’t just abandon one for another.
So staying here and having the baby is a loss. Moving and having the baby is a loss. Aborting the baby, even if I could stomach it, doesn’t return everything to before, because my heart doesn’t have a “reset” button on it. Aborting the baby and going to the new life with the new, worse Frida but everyone else more or less the same, damn. Damn, Pendejos fatales. Puta.
No exit, indeed.
“Señora,” the grip called out, “The cast asked me to invite you across the street, and that you could lock up the theater. Do you have a key?”
“I installed the lock; I should say that I have the key. Please leave me; I know where the lights are.”
The words, “DELIA SA,” refracted through the teardrops on top of them.
The next day, Frida presented herself to the gynecological surgeon. Of all the impossible choices, this one at least offered the promise of self-delusion. At least the only actor in this version of the script, for good or evil, was Frida herself.
Copyright© Ronald Fischman. All rights reserved.
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