Sicilian Haj
Derek H. Crane
I 'm Sicilian. That's what I always say when somebody asks me who I am, because it's the most important thing. I happen to be married to an Arab woman, but that doesn't mean I'm any less Sicilian. The Arabs took over Sicily for a while, and it didn't change us any.

So I'm passionate, OK? And jealous. And when my wife wanted to go on the Haj, I got all crazy because I thought she was going to meet somebody there. I didn't know anything about the Haj except that it was going to Mecca, and I couldn't see why if there was nobody else involved. What the hell is there to do in Mecca? So I said: Fine, go on the Haj. But I was burning up inside, you know what I mean? And after she decided to go, even though she knew I didn't want her to, I bought a ticket to get there just before she did, so I could track her all the way and catch her at what she was going to do.

I had already checked it out with by grandmother, who did the bowl and oil and candle bit and said, yeah, there was malocchio involved and I had better be careful. And I went to my aunt, the one who never got married, and she did the chants and everything and gave me what I hoped I'd never have to use. But I had looked into Islam law, and I knew that an adulteress is supposed to be stoned--and I don't mean drugs, I mean rocks--so I wanted to be prepared.

So I got there, and I waited. I saw her come off the plane, and I tracked her. Nobody met her. She went with some sort of tour guide, and got on a bus. Anyway, nothing happened. The first night, she slept in a big place with about a thousand other women. I snooped around enough to know that if any guy had tried to get in there, he would have been fried. I was lucky to get off with a warning. The next night, she didn't sleep at all, but just kept walking around this building as if it were some sort of cathedral. For two days, almost without sleep, I watched her do nothing but pray. I had worked myself up to do her in with proper Arab style, and, thanks to my aunt, I had a sacred black stone burning a hole in my pocket. But she just prayed. Then she went home, and I did too.

So how am I going to tell her where the money went? Women. Sicilians will never understand women.

First published: November 1999