Friday, January 03, 2020

Warm Reception

This is chapter 2 of The Inheritance, a serial fiction novel on FITK

Wednesday noon—July 8, 2020

The church basement was much cooler than the graveyard, even though it wasn’t air conditioned. The aroma of warm bread and Tater-Tot hotdish quickly smothered any other olfactory sensations. There were lively discussions taking place at several tables. The virus quarantine restrictions of spring seemed to be ignored here—Sean was struck by the sight of so many people in close proximity. He hadn’t been at a gathering like this since before the Covid-19 virus had hit. Things still were far from normal in Seattle but so far Decorah had been free of a large-scale outbreak. Flying to Tina’s funeral was also the first time his family had flown since then. The spread of the virus had slowed considerably but new hot spots of infection were still popping up around the country. Mary and Sean sat down across the table from Sean’s childhood friend Suzie Johnson.

“Suzie, this is Mary Robinson, my wife,” said Sean.

“Pleased to meet you, Sean has told me about you,” said Mary.

“Glad to meet you,” said Suzie, “I hope he didn’t say anything bad.”

“He had only good things to say,” said Mary, smiling.

“When I was staying with Tina when I was young it was the best part of my childhood, and you were the best part of that time,” said Sean.

“Oh my! It’s warm in here,” said Suzie, blushing.

“It is warm in here,” said Mary, laughing. “Sean, behave yourself.”

“Was that your daughter who threw the flowers on the casket?” said Suzie, “Where is she?”

“She’s outside with Edwin Duddle. They’ll be in in a min… Oh! Here they are now,” said Sean.

Edwin and Mareka walked into the recption hall and went over to the table where Mary, Sean and Suzie were sitting.

“Mind if we join you?” asked Edwin.

“Please, do sit down,” said Mary, “Mareka, this is Suzie Johnson. Suzie was a friend of Sean’s when they were your age.”

“Hi,” said Mareka, shyly.

“Hi Mareka,” said Suzie. “I’m glad to meet you. I had so much fun with your dad when we were little. Your great-aunt Tina would take care of us, feed us lunch.”

“I’m hungry,” said Mareka, “Can I get something to eat?”

“Of course,” said Mary, “I’ll go with you.”

When Mareka and Mary left, Suzie spoke to Edwin.

“I’m really sorry for your loss, Edwin. Tina meant a lot to me when I was young and I know what she meant to you.”

“Thank you,” said Edwin, “It is the end of an era.”

“Tina, her folks, Sean’s mother Marilyn, and her mother, Emily, the artist, all the Iowa Carrolls are gone,” said Suzie, “Did you know Emily?”

“Yes, I kn… I remember her,” said Edwin.

“What do think ever happened to her?”

Edwin sat without answering her. He knew exactly what had happened: how Emily had been held under a spell for nearly sixty years, how Mary and Sean and freed her, how she reconciled with Tina and Edwin, and how Emily went to Seattle with Sean and Mary and then disappeared into the mist over Puget Sound with her spirit guide. But he couldn’t tell anyone. Who would believe it?


“Sorry, I lost my train of thought, it’s easy to get derailed at my age,” he said, “I don’t think that we will ever know. We still have her art, though.”

“I can’t believe how famous she is!” said Suzie.

“That’s thanks to Sean here,” said Edwin,“He’s done a great job with the exhibits and books.”

“I feel I owe it to her,” said Sean, “She didn’t get a chance to be exhibited in the thirties, the depression ruined a lot of careers.”

Mary and Mareka came back to the table with their food.

“I’ve got Tater-Tots!” exclaimed Mareka, “I always wanted to try them.”

“When in Decorah, do as the Decorans do, I guess,” said Sean. “Don’t eat too much, Kiddo.”

“I feel like a neglectful parent,” said Mary, “I offered her the three bean salad but it was no competition.”

“Do you want a tater tot, Edwin?” said Mareka, with her mouth full.

“No, thank you anyway,” said Edwin, smiling, “If you’ll excuse me, I need to talk to someone over there… ”

“What do you think, Mareka, about the Tater-Tots?” said Suzie. “My daughter loves them.”

“Mmmph,” said Mareka.

“I guess that means they are all right, then?” said Suzie.

“Slow down, Mareka, save some room for a Whippy-Dip,” said Sean.

Next chapter: I Scream, You Scream

By Professor Batty

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