Permission
Ozzie Nogg
Break
My father talked to the Angel of Death. This secret was revealed one afternoon during a visit to Mt. Sinai Home for the Aged.
"So, Pa. How long have you two been speaking?"
"Since the beginning. Since I was a small boy he's been lurking in wells, hiding on tree branches, leaning on traffic lights waiting for one misstep so he can grab me. Last night he stood by my bed and yelled, 'Enough, Morrith. For ninety-theven yearth you have ethcaped me. Give it up, for Pete'th thake.'"
"The Angel, he lisps?"
"And reeks from garlic. This morning he schlepps with him your mother in her house shoes and apron, like she'll be some big incentive, and he yells, 'Remember her oxtail thoup, her brithket? Come with uth, Morrith, and again you'll eat like a printh. It'th like the Waldorf there, only cleaner. You'll enjoy it, I promith.'"
"What did Ma say?"
"From her pickled tongue, not a peep."
In my father's room, the radiator hissed rhythmically along with words to a lullaby I'd not yet forgotten.
'Under my little one's cradle stands a small white goat.
The goat traveled to sell his wares.
This, too, will my little one do.
Trading raisins and almonds.
Sleep, my little one, sleep.'
A nurse checked my father's vitals, hung another bag on the I.V. pole. "How we doing, Morris? " she asked.
"Never better," he answered to her retreating back.
I stood by my father's bed, heard his slow breath, saw his arms bruised purple from needle sticks. I touched his hand.
"Stop with the foreplay," my father said, eyes shut, from some distant place. "I'm not falling for your tricks."
"No, Pa, it's me."
In his bed, my father hovered, deciding. "You think he's telling the truth, the Angel? You think there is such a place, and I'll enjoy it?"
"Absolutely."
"Promise?"
"Yes, Pa. I promise."
Then I held his hand until he made up his mind.
In 2003, Ozzie Nogg's story, Blue Plate Special, appeared in MARGIN: Exploring Modern Magic Realism, and was later nominated for a Pushcart Prize and the E-2ink Award. Her book of personal stories, Joseph's Bones, was the First Place winner in the 2005 Writer's Digest Press International Self-Published Book Awards.  Website