by Adam Rabasca
“It’s not working, Doc.” Dick could bully anybody with his glare, especially while in office, but not Dr. Grossman. “I’m craving knishes, corned beef.”
“Oh, don’t eat that,” urged the doctor. “Awful for your heart. Besides, the transplant was to start over. Eat better, live better…right?”
“Cut the crap, doc. Something’s wrong. Heart feels…foreign.” Dick always wanted America American, particularly since serving under George. “This heart’s spoiled. I’m feeling…shame…for decisions I…we…made. Never been ashamed in my life. I’m remembering that hunting accident…feels like guilt.” His eyebrows lifted. “I should’ve called my mother more often.”
Dr. Grossman wondered whether Dick’s politicking had become too much.
“Yes, Dick, something is different. You have a new heart. I imagine you’ll never feel the same ever again.”
Dick left dissatisfied. He didn’t mind Dr. Grossman’s Argentinian nationality -nor his Jewish refugee parentage. “Besides,” he thought, “Jews are good at this, even Argentinian Jews.”
Dick looked for his shadow. Upon leaving office, he was eager for surveillance to end, but ultimately hired a bodyguard. Liberals wanted revenge.
He instructed his driver to head to Eli’s. He wanted something kosher.
Amidst gawking patrons, he ordered a hot corned beef sandwich on challah and inexplicably began humming “Tradition.” He spent the rest of the evening ignoring interest groups, watching Fiddler on the Roof, and enjoying a complimentary loaf of challah. Before bed, he went to the bathroom and, upon peering into the mirror, anxiously sighed, “Oy, vey.”
Dr. Grossman’s shoulders dropped upon seeing Dick’s shadow. “It’s a Jewish heart, Doc. I ate corned beef yesterday. And challah!”
“How often have I told you?” Dr. Grossman hung his coat on a mahogany rack, Ronald’s gift for removing polyps in 1986. “Eat better, live better. No corned beef!”
“Enough with the sandwich! It’s a Jew heart!”
Dr. Grossman returned Dick’s glare. “Have you forgotten yourself? Have you forgotten me?”
Dick paused. His political beliefs on immigration, on Jews, never interfered with their relationship. Dr. Grossman just added another ten years to Dick’s life.
“Doc, I’m sorry…but this heart’s killing me.”
Something in Dick’s plea -perhaps that Dick ate challah- convinced Dr. Grossman. The scans revealed that as strongly as Dick’s new heart rebounded the day before, its overnight decline was as equally fervent -and rapidly worsening. Dick slipped back atop the transplant list.
Meanwhile, Passover approached. Dick and his shadow returned daily to Eli’s, researched Seder preparation on Wikipedia, and investigated temples for Shabbos. He and his wife discussed vacationing abroad, perhaps the Mediterranean. Lynne fainted when he suggested purchasing real estate in Israel.
Seven pounds of Dick’s body disappeared. He was wheezing, and, he was convinced, his nose elongated. Surgery could not come soon enough.
On the morning before Passover, the Seder already arranged, Dr. Grossman called.
After the transplant, Dick felt better than he had in years. The urges for corned beef sandwiches and challah vanished. He cancelled Seder, planned a visit to the Hill, and called George for a future lunch date. It wouldn’t be kosher.
“It’s not working, Doc.” Dick tucked his chin low. “Never craved falafel. Never heard of tahini. Now, I can’t eat enough. The heart’s…Pakistani. They’ll say I’m Muslim. They’ll put me on the ‘no-fly’ list.”
Dr. Grossman felt nauseous. His eyes drilled into a teak paperweight, George’s gift for a colonoscopy in 2002. Dick relished those two hours he was in power. He could have blocked immigration entirely or bombed the hell out of Iran. His health made him unelectable, though. Besides, he ran things better from within.