from THE BRIS
When Marcus packed for Florida, he harbored no illusions about what would happen when he got there. His father’s liver soon would fail, and, without a transplant, he couldn’t survive the week. “Why waste a miracle on an elderly man like me?” his father scoffed. He pooh-poohed the new liver as if it were a slightly used sports car Marcus insisted he buy. “At least let me put your name on the waiting list,” Marcus said, but his father blew raspberries through the phone. “Give that same liver to someone young, and he or she could get another fifty years out of the goddamn thing.”
And so, with a heavy carry-on and an even heavier heart, Marcus flew to West Palm Beach. He rented a car and drove to the hospital in Boca Raton where his father had been taken after his last collapse. As he checked in at Registration and followed the arrows to the room, he prepared for the likelihood that in another few days he would be arranging his father’s funeral. What he couldn’t have predicted was that first he would be called on to arrange his father’s bris.
“Your bris, Pop?” Marcus laughed, although his father rarely joked; for a former hotelkeeper in the Catskills, he was a singularly humorless man. His request that Marcus find a mohel who would circumcise him before he died could only be an effect of the drugs he was taking or the poison seeping from his liver. “Don’t worry, Pop. All of that was taken care of a long time ago.”