They seemed taken out of a postcard; an old couple walking with their arms tied. Assuming the role of a gentleman, the man helped his wife Barbara to keep the pace. The lady always had watery eyes; the years awarded her this martyrdom. She had green eyes but without light, they had withered like her body. A small hump protruded from her back. She remained vain, and her eyestrain combined with her tremors did not help. Her face showed that she had attempted to put on makeup, and her lipstick from the morning still adhered to the edges of her lips. Determined to reach their destination, they walked together, slowly but firmly.
Mr. Joseph Schmidt had always been a good provider. He remembered how they decided to move south because their aging bodies required warmth, not the cold weather of Massachusetts. After fifteen years living in Las Cruces, New Mexico, (aka: the land of enchantment), they considered themselves to be very happy. They had ended up there as a result of a random game: Mr. Schmidt had closed his eyes and oscillated his forefinger around a map, and that’s where it had landed. They always smiled while telling that story.
They also recalled with a smile when their kids mistakenly thought they were moving to the country of Mexico. At the time, the state of New Mexico was of such little importance to the country that few people knew of its existence. For them, their children’s ignorance was completely understandable.
They shared the city with many other retirees; it was as if they had a new life. They always had a lot to do and liked to talk about their adventures; Bingo Mondays, Golfing Tuesdays, Wednesdays devoted to their home. Mr. Schmidt was especially proud of his garden. His favorite day was Thursday because of hunting. He liked to feel the power of the rifle, his finger pulling the trigger and instantly killing his prey. The freezer in the garage filled with deer meat was more than the couple could ever imagine eating.
While walking together they seemed like a couple of snowflakes: innocent, jovial and with a self-confidence granted by the years. They were an elderly couple capitalizing on their last breaths, trying to enjoy all the wealth they had accumulated over a lifetime of financial planning. They donated their time and money to their church because they liked the grandeur of the building and how it continued to expand. They wanted more people like them to study the Bible and learn about God.
The Schmidts were always looking to meet other people. At their monthly meeting of the National Association of Gunmen, an elite group of veterans was introduced. They were volunteers still serving the country by patrolling the southern border on a daily basis. Fascinated, Joseph waited until the end of the presentation to meet the founder, Chris Simkox. After a long conversation Simkox agreed to continue their friendly chat.
The next day, Simkox arrived very early for breakfast, and Mr. Schmidt seated him at the head of the table. As they ate eggs and drank orange juice, they enjoyed a vibrant conversation and discovered that they shared many things in common. In fact, they understood each other so well it was as if they had been friends for years. The elderly Mr. Schmidt had reddish skin. Enjoying his coffee without sugar, he assumed a more relaxed posture. He was happy, but at the same time he felt a bit anxious. It was just amazing to see someone so old speaking so proudly about his catches:
“I like to get into the mind of the prey and how I have to be stealthy. I like how the red indicates the end; it is like seeing blood decorating the scenery.”
“Yes Joseph, there are animals that slip them a slower red. It is a unique hue, it is thicker. It takes time to drip, somewhat sluggish, like the Mexicans,” the invitee joked.
Patting his back, the old man led him to a den in the back of the house. They went to a dark room; it had a strange smell, like incense. There were a variety of stuffed animals illustrating the richness of US wildlife: a white tailed deer, a bobcat and a grizzly bear. At the end of the room there was a bright spot aimed at a couple of trophies that represented the most exotic of all his hunts. They were beautiful specimens. One was a young male with dark skin, holding a shovel; he appeared to be working with a bare chest and wearing jeans. “The boy ran several yards, but my good vision caught him,” said the proud hunter.
His favorite, the female, was beautiful. He observed her daily. A young thin brunette with long hair was the centerpiece of his collection. Mr. Schmidt touched her arm as if he was comforting her, but immediately his brows furrowed. “She was at fault for trespassing into our country,” he said, with the certainty that from that moment on, Chris and the others would approve his private museum.
Snowflakes is a translation of Conitos de Nieve published in Memorias de un Camaleón(2013)