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Juanito and the Blanket

Cipriano H. Rivera


The wind was cold as the snow showered Don Marcus’s home.  The old man sat on his bed staring at the dying embers in the stove.  The heat was gone.  The bitter cold was c losing in on the dying warmth with great haste.  Don Marcus was out of wood, but no amount of wood could keep the cold out of his home.  The clay floor was extremely cold and offered no comfort to the old man’s bare feet.  Don Marcus sat on his bed staring at the stove thinking of the warm days he had recently enjoyed.  The old man was unfamiliar to the bitter cold.  He had not been prepared for the storm.  The snow and fierce wind had prevented him from gathering firewood in the surrounding mountains.  His money had run out, and the ferocity of the storm had just begun.  A load of wood did not bring much in Los Nopales, yet it was enough to eat on for a few days.  He needed meat, warm meat to eat and a steaming cup of coffee.  Don Marcus needed more blankets and more wood for his stove.
            Don Marcus had lost the concept of time since the storm had moved in.  When he looked through the cracks in the roof, he could not see the warm winter sun.  His world was clouded over and time had lost its meaning.  Juanito, his grandson of twelve years, ran in without warning.  Don Marcus was surprised, but it was a pleasant surprise.  The old man was overwhelmed with joy when he saw his grandson.  A sparkle came to his eyes as he heard, “Abuelito!  ¿Cómo está?”
            The old man just smiled as Juanito jumped up into his arms and said, “Muy bien.  Muy bien.”  Juanito was a child, but he understood life at a very early age.
            He asked his grandfather, “How are you?  Do you need anything?  Are you hungry?”
            The old man just said, “No.  No.  I am okay.”
            Juanito knew otherwise, though.  He could feel his grandfather trembling from the cold.  Juanito also noticed the extreme cold in his grandfather’s house.  His fingers and toes were beginning to tingle as feeling became more and more distant.  His nose and chest hurt from breathing in the cold air.  Juanito told his grandfather he was leaving but would be right back.  In his mind he thought, “Surely on such a cold day my papá will allow him to come up to the house.”
            When the young boy stepped outside, he mounted his horse and galloped the short distance to his home.  Upon reaching the enormous house, Juanito quickly ran inside.  The heat was overwhelming.  He lived in a very extravagant home that was even carpeted.  The fine furniture and blazing fire was an invitation after having been exposed to the unusually cold weather.  Juanito ran throughout the enormous house until he found his father.  The young boy was in tears as he approached him.  Juanito pleaded whit his father saying, “Papá, please go and get Abuelito and bring him inside!”
            “No!  That old man does not set a foot in this house!” his father said.
            Defeated and anguished Juanito said, “Then give me a blanket to take to him!  Please!  At least a blanket to keep him warm!”
            After thinking it over, Alejandro said, “Go.  Find an old blanket and take it to the old man – but not food!  Just the blanket!”
            Juanito disappeared with bitterness in his heart.  His Abuelito would die in this cold.  He knew he would.  Minutes later Alejandro heard noises in the kitchen and figured it was Juanito trying to smuggle food out of the house.  When Alejandro marched into the kitchen which was filled with the aroma of fresh pastries and empanadas, he was shocked at what he discovered.  Juanito was sitting on the kitchen floor trying to cut an old blanket in half with a kitchen knife.  Alejandro was taken back and yelled out, “What in God’s name are you doing?  I thought you wanted the blanket for the old man?”
            Juanito stood up like a grown man full of experience and knowledge and said, “I am taking half to my abuelito.  The other half I am going to save for when you are like your father: old and cold and hungry.  Then I will give you a half a blanket to comfort you by.”