Three Stories by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois


The Failure of Velcro


I remember where I was the moment all the world’s Velcro simultaneously failed. We were in a hotel on the beach at Fort Lauderdale, Florida. My wife was drawing a picture of a monkey eating a banana, a common sight in her home country. At first I was not aware of the magnitude of what had happened. No one was.


As I was leaving the quarry, my rear axl broke (it was not an axle—if it had been an axle, it might not have broken. At that time, I was not aware of the difference between an axl and an axle. A lot of people are ignorant of that difference, even most mechanics).

I was wondering if something like that might happen. I’d put my trust in God, but God was not worthy of my trust. I didn’t think the failure of the world’s Velcro was responsible. There was no Velcro in my axl, though I did have some duct tape holding together parts of the car’s interior and the front bumper.


The Mayan ruins sit heavily in the dark, as do the gowned Mayan women in the red brocade opera seats, like cups of chocolate candy in foil wrappings.


Hinduism is surely the most compassionate religion, says my new father-in-law, who is about my age. Here at my advanced age, I close my eyes and the image of so many topless, full-breasted women crowd my mind, some with skin of azure like the sky, and I try to parse it out—are these temple images, or memories of women I have bedded?


It was an old car. It was an old God. This God had a lot of staying power. He was the foundation stone for a world of stupidity. Obviously, my car didn’t have staying power. It was what used to be called a “jalopy.” The Kelly Blue Book said it was worth 99 cents, the same value as the autobiography I’d placed on


Now if I were a Christian, all I would have would be a stark image of a crucifixion, a man in agony, and the question would be: Is that me, or Him?


In the island church, in a niche where a religious statue would normally stand, is a golden ship with black sails. Outside the church, a dreadlocked alcoholic is ranting to himself. Elsewhere in the Caribbean, my son and his wife are sailing their ramshackle boat. They mend the sails as they go.


I abandoned my car. Luckily I hadn’t filled the tank for my return trip. It had maybe 99 cents worth of gas in it. I took a torn sweater out of the back seat and headed down the dirt road which led away from the quarry.


Consumerism pulls me like a rip tide but I’m a strong swimmer and learned long ago to swim across the rip to make my way to shore. On my back on the beach, breathing hard, I need nothing but these breaths, and the pretty shells scattered around me, calcium in the shape of life. I raise the largest to my ear. It speaks to me in Arabic. It says: Help us, please.


The Madonna holds a knitting needle. I hope she doesn’t accidentally poke me in the eye. The pastor makes small talk, then asks for a donation.


A black woman walks away from this church, the Cathedral of the Virgin of Guadeloupe, the virgin whom I have followed from Sicily to Mexico and into the Caribbean. The black woman’s back is muscular. I would like to wrestle her.

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