Don’t Believe the Doctors


Ha! Did you really think it was the colon
That did Abuelo in
No! He was gutshot on the front lawn—
went down swinging in a duel with Death
See, I would know; I was there

It happened in his last days
Quiet days spent in his sacred garden
stroking the oregano and pepperleaf
sipping from cans of 7-Up

Over lunches of blue tortillas and fried bologna
He would ask me to remember him well
Remember when he taught me to fire a rifle
Remember when he caught lightning with his bare hands
To look for him in the eyes of stray cats
That when he was broken down to ashes,
pour him down the drain so he
could be with the salmon

There was more to hate than love about Abuelo
But he sure as shit was fearless
Because the day El Thanatos came-a-knocking
he opened the door in his charro blues
and let loose a triumphant grito
that shook the birds from the trees

Don’t go getting optimistic
This ends the way you think it does
Because no fool outdraws The Masked Rider
And yet, my grandfather found him—
Just for a moment, at the end of his barrel
Just before he was found back

I held him in his last moments
He was smiling. Did you see, mijo?
I held him as he went from warm to wet to cold
I had him in my sights. Did you see?
I did; this is a true story.
I would know; I was there.

About the Author
Vincent Antonio Rendoni is a writer based out of Seattle, Washington. He has a Master of Fine Arts from Chatham University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His work has appeared in Fiction Southwest, Sky Island Journal, Burrow Press, Atticus Review, and Litro.