(from my novel “Another Eternity” – set in an
imagined Alberta on an alternate timeline)
Simeon Isaac was not that old, perhaps sixty at most, but he seemed ancient. Few people in Esther could recall when they had not seen him on the streets. He had the look of some antique prophet gone to seed. His clothes were the clothes of the wilderness: a plaid shirt with blue jeans that had never seen a washing machine by the look of them, battered cowboy boots, and a leather jacket with fringes across the back and down the sleeves. His long hair seemed more a faded black than a true grey, and his beard seemed always to have been shaved two days before. The years had etched his dark face deeply, as though every joy and every sorrow of his life were written there in hieroglyphs. Simeon Isaac was the town drunk. When he was not in the hospital for his bad heart, he was in the Men’s room of the Temple Hotel. Everyone in Esther knew he was just a drunken indian. He never bothered to tell them he was Armenian.
Like everyone else in town, Esther Erdmann stayed away from Simeon Isaac. That was why he took her so by surprise the day he died. Esther felt it was somehow her fault, although all she had done was to walk down the same side of the street as the Temple Hotel entrances were on. She was carrying Josh, all wrapped in a blanket, downtown to meet Joe for coffee in the Temple Cafe. To get to the Cafe entrance from Preston’s, it was necessary to pass the Men’s. As Esther approached the Men’s, Simeon walked out. She paused a second as he seemed to lurch toward her. His eyes opened wide, so it seemed to her they might pop out, and he grabbed at his heart with his left hand, reaching out to her with his right. She backed away. Simeon cried out, My God! My God! and he fell to the street dead.
The coroner said it was a heart attack, and the people of Esther forgot Simeon Isaac. Esther Erdmann never forgot.
“Another Eternity” is available at Amazon worldwide and other fine online book sellers and at your local bookstore (ask for it by name).