Life Arts

The Disappeared

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Gradually the two women had become familiar. The woman, whose name was Rosa, had asked if she would teach her to knit. "Of course," she had said, relishing the metal needles in her hands, so close to the woman's heart. So close to the policeman's wife. She had offered her the yarn, the needles, showed her how to hold the string of yarn just so, twirl it so, looking at the side of her neck, feeling like some kind of vampire. The old woman began to hate herself, hate the murderous thoughts, the rage, but she could not pretend to be sane after what had happened. It would be insane not to feel enraged, not to want revenge. Her family had been stolen, perhaps murdered. This woman could not be allowed to steal her grandson, her life.

Maria had made a friend of the woman, knitting together, talking, and the woman had told her all about the adoption, her husband's job. How they struggled to make ends meet on a policeman's salary. They had talked about selling knitted goods, sweaters, booties, baby blankets. Maria had begun to look forward to afternoons in the park without thinking of harming anyone. She didn't know what she should do. She was getting old. The boy's new mother was younger. She would be there for the boy long after Maria was gone.

Now Maria went to the park everyday directly after work, and on her days off, too. She went to her favorite park bench and sat, knitting and waiting for Rosa and Ramon to arrive. Then, yesterday, Rosa had come to the park looking tense, worried. She had been impatient, unlike her normal self, scolding the boy, speaking sharply, ordering him not to go too far from her side. By now she was used to confiding in the older woman. The grandmother even suspected Rosa guessed who she was, though nothing had been said. The woman told her, in a hushed voice, that "they," the secret police, were watching her house, her husband. She didn't know what he might have done. But, last night, four men had sat in a car outside their house all night. She was frightened. She wanted to go away for a while, but had nowhere to turn. What could she do? She needed to get away tonight.

The old woman was calm. She offered her own small apartment. They would be cramped, but it was safe. The boy's mother said no, they could never ask her to risk her own life to protect them. She replied that no one would see danger in an old woman. They could take the bus from the park, call her husband later, no one would know. They could buy whatever they needed when they got to her neighborhood.

So they left the park. When the bus neared the old woman's home, they got off. The boy and his mother went to make a phone call from the payphone while the grandmother went inside the store to buy some food for her guests. When she came out of the store, Rosa looked crestfallen, frightened and mystified. She said there was no answer at her home.

As Maria led them to her apartment, she was laughing to herself, glad she had not murdered anybody, glad to have her grandson in her house, even if only for the night. She smiled, beginning to have doubts about herself as a homicidal maniac, but secretly thrilled to be a conspirator, satisfied and proud to be conspiring against those evil men.

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They were very quiet as they went up the stairs. Surely there was no way anyone would know they were there. After making a small dinner, they put the boy to bed on the couch, while she and Rosa sat up and talked in hushed voices. Maria told Rosa about the hospital's coffee shop, where she could wait for Maria to get off work. The city library, too, was a good place to lie low. Her sense of humor served her well now, she laughed at the police, scorned the "brave men" of the government. Still, she did not betray herself to Rosa, even when Rosa had told her about her husband's problems at work. He was not ruthless enough, they had said. He had brought in no leftists, few bribes. He was not felt to be carrying his share of the load, their hold on the people of the city. They were afraid he would betray them because, except for the child, his hands were clean.

After awhile, the women began to relax. Their exhaustion took over. They got up from the table and, leaving the kitchen light on for the boy, went to sleep, the two women taking turns washing up and Maria insisting they share the bed. As she lay in bed thinking, Maria could hear the radio music from the store, singing into the night.

There was a loud knock at the door. Maria whispered to Rosa, "Go! Take the boy and run out the back." She called out, "Coming!" as she rose to answer the door, pulling on her robe. "Go! If it's safe, I'll come down and get you, otherwise, I'll meet you at the hospital, in the lobby, early in the morning." Maria was laughing, a fierce glint in her eyes as she picked up her knitting on her way to the door.

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Avid reader, jazz musician, philosopher, chef, stone mason, carpenter, writer, painter, poet,humanist, teacher, holistic ethicist who believes consciousness and love pervade the universe, except among self-obsessed humans. I perceive the (more...)

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A long piece which I have not yet read completely ... by Suzana Megles on Friday, Jul 6, 2012 at 6:15:14 AM
The architects of this tragedy were sentenced toda... by martin weiss on Friday, Jul 6, 2012 at 12:07:08 PM
...can make you commit atrocities."-- Voltaire... by martin weiss on Friday, Jul 6, 2012 at 12:15:28 PM
I read all 3 pages but then it stopped.  What... by Suzana Megles on Friday, Jul 6, 2012 at 3:16:50 PM
Suzana, the record is incriminating. Argentine mil... by martin weiss on Saturday, Jul 7, 2012 at 6:18:33 AM