The International Writers Magazine: Dreamscapes Story about
Death of an Immigrant
Sidi Cherkawi Benzahra
is not the story of Sacco and Vanzetti, the two famous Italian
immigrants, who were executed in Massachusetts, or Cesar Chavez,
the famous Mexican-American who fought for the migrant workers
until his death in Arizona. This is the story of a poor, Algerian
immigrant, named Hadge. He was a simple man with a simple dream.
He was average
in all, except for some dark secrets and a strange complexion. He always
combed his frizzy hair to one side and wore old-fashion European outfits.
If you saw him with those clothes you would think he was a Sicilian,
but after you heard him talk, you would know he wasnt. He ran
away from a religious war in Algeria and came to America to start his
simple dream. On the journey to achieve this dream he met Sally Jones,
in a coffee shop, in Dinkytown, Minnesota. He dated her for a few times
and one day a right moment came and he asked her to marry him. Since
Sally Jones was poor, had coke-bottle glasses, permanent pimples on
the forehead, and knew nobody would ask her for marriage again, she
agreed. After a month of courtship, Sally and Hadge drove to Las Vegas
and got married on the spot. There was no friend or a family member
to witness their marriage. I still remember the night I saw his marriage
license when I was sitting in my car with his Algerian friend, Noureddine.
Hadge was not a typical Algerian. A typical Algerian would socialize
with his compatriots and build a network of friends. But Hadge was a
silent loner and preferred to stay silent until the day he died. For
some reason he was always in deep sorrow and discontent. His only progress
in social life was that he found a few Moroccan friends to play soccer
with and became a regular customer at Espresso Royal, a coffee shop
in Dinkytown, where he would drink coffee, look at girls, and chat with
the regulars. Other than that, his life was monotone. He went to school
during the day, went home during the night, and played soccer during
Hadge was also a chain smoker. He smoked cigarettes back to back until
he went to sleep. His clothes always reeked of smoke, even after he
would wash them with heavy-duty detergent. Whenever you saw him sitting
outside the coffee shop he would be sucking on his cigarette. There
was a cigarette shop right there at the corner of the block, and if
Hadge finished a pack he would just walk a few yards to get a new fresh
one. Cigarettes to him were like a reservoir onto which he would pour
all of his sorrow and discontent. He didnt know that smoking was
harming his lungs, or probably knew, but he didnt care. He kept
on smoking incessantly until one day he felt a dull pain in his chest.
The pain came and went. Every now and then it would come for a short
visit and then go, but after a few months it became his constant companion
and never went. Hadge visited a doctor at Fairview Hospital and the
doctor checked him out carefully and said it was lung cancer. In Algeria
the doctor would word the statement differently to make the patient
feel better, but here the doctors are so honest they make you feel miserable.
Later on the doctor did more diagnosis and found out that Hadges
cancer had spread out to his brains and to his bones. Cancer took a
monkey grip of Hadge and became a part of him. Cancer would only go
if Hadge went and through out all this bad news, Hadge had told this
to no one, but later on, his wife found out and Hadge had to go stay
at the hospital for some time.
After six days in the hospital Hadge died quietly at approximately five-fifteen
in the morning. You might think that the story ends up here, but the
story has just begun, because Hadge left a dilemma behind him. Since
Hadge didnt show up for soccer games, Noureddine and the Moroccans
started to wonder what had happened. Noureddine called Hadge at home.
"Can I speak to Hadge?" he asked.
Sally began to cry.
"What happened?" Nourredine asked.
"Hadge died," Sally said primly.
"No way," Noureddine replied.
"Yes. He died," Sally confirmed.
There was a pause. Noureddine was sucking the news and getting adjusted
to it. He knew it was true and he knew it from the way Sally cried.
Her cry was honest and clean and real as death. There is nothing so
powerful than death. There is nothing so indifferent than death. Death
is Mrs. Clean. Death is pure and complete and absolute. Death is a democracy.
Death is a god. Death is real. Death is the end of life. Death is a
one-to-one function: for every one life there is one death. Death conserves.
Death doesnt listen; it just executes. Death loves everybody.
Death has a big dick that fucks everybody. Death is beautiful. If you
want to know the difference between reality and imagination, death will
be happy to show it to you. Death is color blind.
"It cant be true," Noureddine said. "Ive
just talked to Hadge, not long ago."
"He died in the hospital. Fairview. Cancer."
"Where is he now?" Noureddine asked.
"Hes cremated," Sally said.
"I cant talk about it now," Sally said. "I am upset.
I need to go."
Noureddine was thinking about telling his friends. This was big news
for him and for the community. The last big news he had heard on that
year, was that his Moroccan friend, Mustapha Alhakeko, went to Hennepin
County penitentiary for smacking his wife. They stuck an electronic
gadget to his ankle, like they do a migrant bird, and set him free for
the weekend, only to report back the following week.
"I will call you back," Noureddine said to Sally. "Please
answer when I call you back."
"I will," Sally said. And Noureddine hung up.
Noureddine called everybody he knew. The Algerians, the Moroccans, the
Tunisians, the Egyptians; he even called a Jamaican friend, Hadge knew
Ibrahim, one of the ring leaders of the community, suggested they get
some of Hadges ashes to pray on for the replacement of Hadges
body. In Islamic tradition, a dead body needed to be washed and moved
to a mosque so that people can pray on and say the final goodbye. We
need the powder, everybody in the community said. You need to call his
wife back and ask her for some of Hadges powder. Noureddine called
"Hello," Sally said over the phone.
"Hello," Noureddine said. "Hadges friends and the
community need his powder as a replacement, so we can pray for him in
There was no response. Sally was thinking. Sally didnt have Hadges
"Hello," Noureddine said.
"I am sorry I told you Hadge was cremated. Hes still in the
morgue. I dont have money to buy a spot for him at the cemetery."
"What?" Noureddine recoiled from the phone.
"I lied," Sally said. "Hadges in the morgue at
"You mean hes not cremated?"
"Yes, hes not cremated," Sally said. "I am sorry,
"You cant do that," Noureddine revolted. "You cant
lie, like that. You cant lie about somebodys death. Why
didnt you ask me for money? The community could give you all the
money you need. This is a matter of death. People give money."
"I am sorry," Sally said. "I didnt know."
"Thats okay," Noureddine said. "We need to go see
him in the morgue. We need to get his body out here in the mosque so
we can pray for him."
"Thats fine," Sally said.
"Did you call his family in Algeria?" Noureddine asked.
"I didnt," Sally said.
"Why?" Hadge revolted.
"I dont have their phone number."
"He never gave it to me."
"I will call them," Noureddine said angrily.
How can she be his wife and not know his familys phone number?
Noureddine said to himself, shaking his head. He called the community
and the community found Hadges family phone number, and Noureddine
called the family in Algeria. Noureddine was calling Hadges family
overseas all the time. He became so jazzed by Hadges death he
forgot that whenever he made a call, Verizon Wireless would add the
call minutes to his bill. After this ordeal, Verizon Wireless sent Noureddine
a phone bill of over a thousand Dollars. Noureddine couldnt pay,
Verizon Wireless cut him off, and the community retreated. Anyway, lets
not dwell on Noureddines phone bill. Thats another short
story in itself. Before this, and later on, Noureddine found out that
he had to contact the Algerian consulate to facilitate the transportation
of Hadges body to Algeria. People in the community started talking
about Hadge, and how his wife lied about his cremation, and how she
was unfair to him, lying like that to the community, and thats
when I came in. They told me about Hadge but I couldnt remember
who he was. So I got curious about him, for I am always curious about
dead people. Some friends told me that I had met him before, but for
some reason I couldnt remember who he was. I wanted to see his
face to make some contact and say the final goodbye like everybody else.
I thought if I saw his face I would probably remember him.
The following day the Algerian consulate sent somebody from New York
to Minneapolis to check on the body and make sure Hadges death
was not due to some criminal act. That night, they brought Hadge to
Columbia-Heights Mosque to wash him off and thats when I went
to see to him. Four guys, including Noureddine, were working on him
when I knocked on the door.
Noureddine came out and closed the door behind him. His face was grim.
"Hes in a bad shape," Noureddine said. "I dont
think you want to see him."
"Its okay," I said. "I want to see him."
Noureddine moved out of the way and opened the door to let me in. I
walked in and I saw Hadge lying on a stretcher, completely covered with
white linen. Beside me, there were four men in the room. The person
in charge of the cleaning seemed to be a white American Muslim, with
piercing eyes, and a long white beard. He was still wearing his yellow
latex glove when his skinny hands were maneuvering over Hadges
head to uncover it. The head was small and stiff as he was uncovering
it. I was waiting for the head to show and I knew it wasnt going
to be a pretty picture.
"Hes in a bad shape," the American said. "Hes
been in the morgue for quite some time."
I could see Hadges face now. There was no way I could make out
who he was. His eye sockets were covered with two little cotton balls
and the rest of his face was dark gray, with three or four black spots
on the cheeks and one on the forehead. They looked like bruises, but
they were just discolorations from the long stay at the morgue. In facts,
they looked like the black spots tomatoes get when you leave them in
the fridge for a long time. I put my hand on his covered shoulder and
said, goodbye, and left the room. The next day, Hadges body was
put in a plane bound for Algeria. Hadges simple dream has never
Los Angeles, CA.
Queen of Nightmares
Sidi Benzahra - she's dead sexy
Drives a Mercedes Benz
Sidi Cherkawi Benzahra
Sidi is a regular contributor to Hackwriters and works in education
in the field of nuclear physics
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