Ancillary Casualties


Commander Bragg lit his Camel with the smoldering butt of his last one, smoked down to a nubbin.  Lieutenant Roy did not remark on this. The eyes of the world are upon you.

“You’re sure they are all evacuated,” said Commander Bragg. It was not a question.

“One hundred percent, sir,” said Lieutenant Roy. “Triple checked.”

“Because if anyone is in the zone, anyone at all, they’re dead. You understand that?”

“Understood, sir.”

But in truth, Lieutenant Roy was only 90% sure.

Language barriers and the innate stubbornness of the islanders, especially the old ones, made ancillary casualties a real possibility.

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My shortest foster stint was five days. That was when the county was laying off social workers and didn’t have time to check up on what was going on in the foster houses.

Let’s just say it was bad and leave it there.

The fifth house was the real heartbreaker, the Garcias.

They were sweet people.

Ten kids, so what was one more?

Mrs. Garcia had this party for her daughter Luz, a Quincea├▒era. Invited lots of kids from the neighborhood. First time in my life I felt I belonged somewhere.

One day ICE came knocking. They got deported.



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Desecrating Shabbat

The pool was the main reason Sy had moved into the building. Dr. Schwartz prescribed daily exercise, and what was better than swimming? Get the heart racing without punishing the old bones. Best of all, the time to unwind and think.

Only it wasn’t like that. The pool was always full of these strapping young goys who swam laps as though masturbating in public.

The only time Sy knew with certainty the pool would be empty was Friday night at nine when they were out engaging in mating rituals.

Sy tried to keep Shabbat by praying, but sometimes he forgot.

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El Pais Seco

The coyote assured them there would be water stations set in the desert by kindly Americanos, but the only one they’d come across in a hundred kilometers of walking was hacked into ruin, the tank shot full of holes and dry as a bone.

Gustavo felt his tongue swelling in his mouth, the sun heavy as a blanket on his neck and shoulders.

He shook the remaining gallon jug of water, mostly gone. The children had long since stopped crying, trudging in silence, one weary foot in front of the other.

The mountains swayed in the heat, never getting closer.


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I came here in 1946. I was lucky.

Uncle Abram had some pull with the State Department. He had a job for me and a place to live. After a couple years, I got my own apartment on Amsterdam next door to Orwasher Bakery where I worked.

In those days, you’d often see the Nazi tattoos given us at the camps. Some were ashamed and tried to hide them in long sleeves, but I didn’t care. I saw mine as a scar, the same as if I’d survived a fire.

These days you seldom see one at all. People are forgetting.


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