Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Dramatis Personae 1
3 Through History
Chapter 1: Dramatis Personae
"Come up to the Club. We'll watch the Steelers and have a few. I have $200 on the game."
The driver, Rafi, a), damn near dropped the phone into the map slot in the car door, and, b), double-damn near drove off Rt. 73. And no, it wasn't for a beer.
"You're supposed to be celebrating with Anna tonight. Didn't her plane ever get here?" Crashing the car and getting killed coming back from teaching Bar-Mitzvah lessons wasn't happening, after all.
"I'll tell you about it when you get here." The exasperation in Dimiti's voice confirmed Rafi's worst fears. Anna missed the flight.
The sound of Pablo Neruda buzzed through Rafi's ears, spoken by Anna's rich contralto. That day in June, when she was still drinking. That day she picked him up at the Collingswood train station - on foot. That day her son Alejandro, the curly-headed eleven-year-old Tae Kwon Do junior champion of Mexico, was at the towering apartment multiplex, with acres of North, South, and East buildings rising like oversized obelisks out of what used to be a forest wetland. The day he tripped and fell into the dark chocolate vats of her sparkling sad doe eyes. Dimitri had as much as invited Rafi to go meet her. Was he that cocky, or am I so impotent? Did Dimitri not read his blog, or his notes on Facebook? But Rafi was like that - even when he was married, it was a fluke. The Rhinoceros was right to leave him.
"No sere un paracaidista," wrote Rafi in one of many exchanges he'd had with Anna since that first meeting. Spanish was his fourth or fifth language, but thanks to Streetwise Spanish, he knew that a "paracaidista," or parachutist, was a Central American term for someone who dives into someone else's game and steals the trophy. "But know that I am deeply moved by you. If I knew you longer, I would tell you that..."
Swoosh. Rafi dodged off the ramp to Betsy Ross Bridge, barely escaping a loss of half an hour and $2 in extra toll.
The Tacony-Palmyra tolls loomed dead center.