December 27, 2022
He was still standing when I came back the next day. Eyes ever fixed upon the window. Body no longer shivering. Face blue. Still looking towards the house.
I blew into my hands, warming them against the cold and feeling ashamed for even doing such a thing while among another’s most opposite and unbecoming circumstances.
He did not budge after I asked, “So… No more knocking, I guess?”
“I am always knocking,” he snapped. Frigid.
“But…,” I started, glancing towards the door, “I don’t see anyone over there. And plus, it’s like, 10 feet away. How in the world are you knocking?”
I could feel….. his….anger?…. rising.
Only his eyes (for his head could not move) turned with the last reserve of utter intention within them and said, sputtered, “I…. am… always…knocking. Always.”
And, like a wolf, he stared me down, deep in the icy dark.
And I could see that what he said was true.
“Ok….” I offered, with a warmer tone.
(a tone which, I discerned perhaps not surprisingly, is quite useless in terms of its temperature adjustment capabilities in the lower fabrics of reality)
He turned his eyes back towards the door, and the window.
A final question.
“And the bells?”
His eyes eased at this question, and his cheeks, though frozen, stretched and smiled ~somehow~ slightly and with such a subtle, sudden severity that micro explosions of ice shattered above his cheeks, a grand fireworks shower of snow to my eye, to all others a whisp of wind. Better than magic ~ and deeper. The meaning of the word. The weight of the essence.
And a tear spat out, freezing in his one-remaining eye, now smiling, and warm.
“No,” he chuckled, “No more bells.”
“Thank God,” he added with a nod, its own etymology twisted in the hearing being passed by the wind through the tunnel of his very own lips.
A funny, terrible thing to recognize.
And, though, we were far from home,
he said it like s.a. de bejar’s best.
(all except for, that is, the so-called Frenchman, who [as I and every young Tejano pup were explicitly instructed and told on the lower school field trip] fled the mission after learning the odds and counting the cost while standing on the other side of a line drawn in the sand)
There were no tacos.