“Spoiler Alert” is a serialized short story, coming in 13 parts every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. “The Gift” is part ten. It’s best if you know the end first, so go to part one if you haven’t read it yet.
We stayed for soup and David spoke with the grand-daughter and great-grand-daughter, who went out of their way to make us feel at home.
David translated their words for me. “We knew you were coming. Grandpa can still see the future. But he doesn’t remember the past very well.”
I had a little epiphany — or maybe just a memory from high school Spanish — that abuelo is grandpa. David was unimpressed.
Abuelo didn’t talk much during the meal. The women had wheeled him to the table, telling us he was over 100 but they weren’t quite sure how old. They were amazed he remembered David, said he didn’t remember much these days.
I always get a little uncomfortable around invalids. I know, I know: I’m a horrible person. I’ve come to accept that. Still, the utter helplessness of the old and incapacitated, trapped in their houses or hospitals, makes me want to cry.
We ate in the courtyard, the women helping Abuelo spoon soup into his mouth. I tried not to watch, but I couldn’t stop. After the meal, the women went to the kitchen.
Abuelo perked up and cleared his throat. “Alan, I have a confession.” He didn’t look so helpless anymore. His eyes darted briefly in my direction and I pretended not to be eavesdropping. He whispered, “Half the things I told your son were lies.”
If my heart skipped a beat at this news, imagine what David’s must have been doing. I mean, if all the prophecies had come true but some of the prophecies were lies, what did that mean?
David choked out a feeble “Why?” though I’m sure he had more to ask.
Abuelo leaned in closer, but I could still hear. “You remember that man we met in Kansas City? The guy with the leather vest who was always eating pineapple from a can? What’s it he used to say? ‘Ain’t truth that’ll set you free.’
“We were given gifts, Alan. We’ve seen the face of God. But who really wants to see the face of God. It’s death.”
I would come to understand soon enough what he was saying.
In the meantime, I had David to worry about. He looked like he was ready to fall over.