The Wall — A Perspective in Three Stories

by Jeaninne Escallier Kato

This is part three. Read the suite from the beginning.

El Jardinero (The Gardener)

Grief consumes her like a mouse being squeezed to death in the body of a snake. She often struggles for each breath. After fifty years of marriage, Marlene’s purpose is gone.

“Senora,” Enrique inquires through the sliding door screen. “Do you need me to clear the weeds behind your back wall?”

She answers, “No, thank you, Enrique. Not today. Your check is on the patio table.”

Enrique hesitates. “I am so sorry for your loss, Senor Fred was a good man. If you need money, or anything, I am here to help.”

Marlene fights back her tears. Her extended family has all but disappeared; yet, this humble man with no discernible income is offering all he has.

“Enrique, I wouldn’t think of asking you for money, but thank you for your kindness. Please come in. I just made a fresh pot of coffee.”

Enrique wipes his face with his handkerchief and rinses his hands in the outside faucet before he removes his shoes to enter her kitchen. He declines the coffee and asks for a glass of water instead. Marlene motions for him to sit at the antique kitchen table before bringing their drinks. He looks around the room noting her many family photos.

“Forgive the house, but I’ve been too tired to clean today. Can I ask you a personal question, Enrique?”

Not accustomed to such a breach in gardener/client etiquette, Enrique doesn’t know what to say. He fingers the gold cross hanging around his neck.

“Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to pry.” Marlene realizes she has said too much.

“No, forgive me, Senora. Please continue.”

“Well, you are a man of faith, right?” Enrique nods his head in agreement. “You see, I was raised Catholic, but I can’t get past the fear that I won’t see my husband after I die. I’m not even sure there is a heaven. How do you go on without your beloved wife?”

Enrique’s eyes soften. “Senora, I am a simple man who understands nothing in this life, but like the sun that shines every day, even behind dark clouds, I know God is real.”

Marlene is intrigued. “May I ask how you know?”

As he rises to leave, Enrique rubs his chest over his heart and says, “Love.”

Marlene returns to her easy chair and clicks on the TV. The president is preaching about building a wall.

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