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NOT EVEN A GLASS OF WATER by Judy Bolton-Fasman • Cleaver Magazine
NOT EVEN A GLASS OF WATER by Judy Bolton-Fasman Think of this as an old movie. Black and white and crackling. On the afternoon of Christmas Eve, 1959, while the businesses along Chapel Street in downtown New Haven were emptying out for the glittering holiday, the staid New Haven accounting firm of Rosen & Rosen was receiving an unexpected visitor. The receptionist was gone for the holidays and one of the partners, my father’s cousin David Rosen, got the door for a young woman in a state of great agitation. An old woman, the girl’s aunt, trailed nervously behind fanning herself with a train schedule. The pair had traveled from Grand Central Station. The older woman was there for the younger one, her niece Matilde. And Matilde was there for Harold Bolton. Three weeks earlier Harold had left her at the altar in Havana. Matilde screamed in a thick Cuban accent, “Where is he?” She was carrying a B. Altman shopping bag that ripped as she extracted a crumpled white silk gown. The gleaming silver that followed registered as a butcher’s knife. “Hijo de mala madre,” Matilde said over and over until she had no more breath. “Dio de la Zedakades—God of righteousness,” the aunt, la Tía Ester, muttered in Ladino. Harold emerged from his office at the sound of the commotion. There was Matilde smoothing the handmade wedding dress against her body. This was just the kind of erratic behavior that was among the reasons he had backed out of their wedding at the last minute—that, and his appalled parents’ reaction to his intention to marry a Cuban girl almost half his age. A girl who didn’t know a salad fork from a dinner fork. I imagine her Latina volatility was part of her allure for Harold—a sturdy only son of Jewish immigrants born in Ukraine who insistently cultivated an American identity. But that afternoon in the offices of Rosen & Rosen, Harold had no doubt that Matilde was capable of cutting herself or even of stabbing him to death.