For breakfast, Jake takes six plastic vitamin bottles out of the cupboard and empties one of each onto the counter: iron, B-12, zinc, C, E, and a multi for good measure. He yawns, lines the tablets up on his hand, takes a diet Mountain Dew from the refrigerator, and washes them down in a single fizzy gulp. The shock of cold carbonation gives him a head rush. He has to steady himself on the refrigerator door.
I must have been the oldest Jew in America who had never been to Israel. During the Six Day War, when I was eleven, I was determined to defend my people’s homeland. I doubted I would be able to take aim at an enemy who reminded me of my beloved Danny Thomas, the only Arab I knew and the star of my favorite television show, Make Room for Daddy. But I could pick oranges at an Israeli kibbutz and thereby free a young sabra to fight off the invaders.
I remember, most vividly, the tea my mother used to dye her auburn hair, the soup of crushed marigolds, rose hips, and paprika. It was crimson, like the blood that drips from Pete and Willow’s goats this morning, young wethers with slit throats strung up on a clothesline.
This nighttime beach is suddenly a sandy stage, and we’re blinking at our audience in their spotlight: two guys in a speedboat trolling for castaways. Everyone comes out of their stupor quicker than me. Candi chants “S.O.S., S.O.S.” and the others yell “Woo-hoo!” and “Yeah!” as if they’re at a concert. I’m the only one out of the eight of us not holding my cig up.
Irish Maupin, immobile again in her old city, in a tearoom with white linens, sat fatter than she’d ever been, fatter than anyone had ever been in the history of recording such things. Faint from eating too little too fast, she found in a ruffle of her collar a sliver of candied grapefruit peel.