Flash Memoir #1
Slices of my life that each tell their own story
NOW OR LATER?
The Moscow surgeon was very angry.
“So why must you switch to another hospital?’
“Because you told me that my chance of surviving the operation was zero percent.”
“And if I just do nothing?”
“You’ll be dead in about two weeks.”
THE COST OF LEAVING
Dad had packed his one suitcase. He stood in the doorway. This was the culmination.
The previous six months imparted inevitability to the moment. Secretive calls. Then that fateful instruction.
“Take the gun you find in the hall closet shoebox and get rid of it without being seen or followed.”
We had already eaten, but mom made several sandwiches and put them in a paper bag. We headed out to the park, and mom kept peeking back over her shoulder at the man who tailed her. Sitting on the bench, we forced ourselves to eat the sandwiches. She made a big show of gathering all the wrappings and left overs together and dropping them onto the public trash can. She breathed a sigh of relief as her tail followed her back home.
Seven years in prison. At five, I had no understanding of why this departure seemed different than all the others during his trial. I remember crying harder than I ever had before.
Out came dad’s wallet, and he pressed a $100 bill into my hand. I flung it to the floor. No, no, no, I kept repeating. Without a word, he was headed down the hallway to the elevator.
Ever since that day I had trouble with handling, keeping and valuing money.
An adjunct professor at Brooklyn College, I was leaving the annual convocation when someone behind me asked, “Are you Prof. Ciofalo?”
“Well I think I’m your sister.”
Sure, enough she was. At her house, I saw the newspaper clips of the trial and my dad’s letters, to which she never responded.
Mom had never told me about my now deceased father’s previous marriage and family. I suddenly felt diminished and less special.
As I left the house, I promised to call. I never did, nor did Concetta ever try to contact me at the college again.
Keeping them out of my life was purely logistical.. It would have meant more Christmas cards than I could bear writing and more presents than I could afford buying.
Olga had never rented a room in her house to a complete stranger.
She breathed a sigh of relief when my morbidly obese body stood at her door.
“You have the master bedroom and bath on the first floor.”
“That really suits me.”
“My bedroom and office are upstairs,” she said reassured.
I spent my days at the Duke Diet and Fitness Center losing weight.
Some weeks later Olga returned from her lab at Duke and headed upstairs.
“What’s this,” she exclaimed.
There was a red rose on her pillow.