Visiting him in the hospital about a week before he died,
I mostly didn’t know what to say so I just expressed how much
I enjoyed playing conga drums with him at the rumbas
and that I looked forward to seeing him again at a rumba
even though I knew it was never going to happen.
And while continuing to stand there to the side of his bed
I noticed that on the opposite table there was a book on Buddhism
which made me wonder if he was an active Buddhist or was just reading
about Buddhism to find some comfort in his final days.
Before leaving, I took out the conga drum necklace that I’d brought
for him, and when I put it in his hand he conjured up a smile,
slowly put the necklace around his neck, and nodded his thanks
before I said take care and walked out the door.
Jeffrey Zable is a teacher, conga drummer/percussionist who plays Afro-Cuban folkloric music, and a writer of poetry, flash fiction, and nonfiction. His writing has appeared in hundreds of literary magazines and anthologies, more recently in Former People, Kitchen Sink, Beatnik Cowboy, Corvus, The Nonconformist, Uppagus and many others.