Friday, March 27, 2020

Mister Bright Eyes

This is Chapter 14 of The Inheritance, a serial fiction novel on FITK

Wednesday afternoon, July 15, 2020, Seattle

“No, I don’t see any Tater-Tots,” said Mary Robinson to her daughter Mareka, “Some things just sell out from time to time, but it isn’t as bad now as it was last spring.”

“Can we make them ourselves?” said Mareka. They were shopping for groceries for their first dinner in their new house.

“I don’t think so, but we can make hash browns, which are sort of like Tater-Tots. We’ve got potatoes and onions, and some oil and salt and pepper, that’s all we need.”

“I’ll do my best with what I have,” said Sean.

His mind wasn’t on dinner, however. The initial flurry of interest in his grandmother’s paintings had faded over the last six years—the last traveling exhibit of Emily’s work in Philadelphia had closed the previous winter—but its return shipment had been suspended when the museum had shut down due to Covid-19 virus. They had finally been shipped and were due to arrive tomorrow. Sean had been thinking about how he would store the canvases. Their new house had a large storeroom in the basement, not as secure as a dedicated vault, but there had been enough bankruptcies in the art world over the spring and summer to make Sean leery of using a commercial gallery storage facility.

After paying for their groceries, Sean and Mary and Mareka loaded the car and returned to their new house. Jo was in the kitchen where she was emptying the dishwasher.

“That was the last load, everything in the kitchen has been washed. I put some of my things in the fridge, the one in the cottage wasn’t working. I’ll make supper tonight,” said Jo with a wink, “if you don’t mind being surprised.”

“Thanks, Jo,” said Mary, “What shape is the rest of the cottage in?”

“It’s good,” Jo said, “It is very masculine, however. A little redecorating will fix that. It will be nice to be able to look out my window and see some vegetation for a change.”

“I’ll take a look at that fridge,” said Sean, “Want to join me, Mareka?”

“Okay, Pops!”

After Sean and Mareka left, Mary began laughing, “Where does she pick up that language?”

“I think we might have watched one too many Andy Hardy movies on the movie channel during the ‘shelter in place’ last spring,” said Jo, “I’m ready to spend some quality time in the garden.”

“Do you have have something planned for the yard?” asked Mary, “That might be a good thing for Mareka to get involved in, she’s crazy about that rock.”

“I’d like some color… perennials… if I get them started now they will be nice next spring,” said Jo, “The Center for Urban Horticulture is having a ‘plant event’ next week.”

“Is Jo going to live here forever?” asked Mareka, who was talking with her father in the kitchen of the guesthouse.

“That’s up to Jo,” said Sean as he began inching out the refrigerator from the wall in the guest house’s tiny kitchen, “She’s going to be working for other people more, she is doing consulting for other small businesses, helping other people the way she has helped your mother and me. She will live here as long as she wants, so you will still see her. It’s nice that she cooks once in a while, it’s a welcome change from my cooking, don’t you think? Aha! I think I see the problem with the fridge.” The duplex outlet that the refrigerator was plugged into showed evidence of arcing in one of its sockets. When Sean switched the plug to the other socket the appliance hummed to life. “That was an easy fix. I’ll get a new socket tomorrow and make it like new.”

“You can fix anything, Pops.

“Almost anything, Kiddo.”

Special Agent Marchal read the executive order he had received from the director of the FBI:
Cease and desist all investigations into the so-called Seattle "witch riot" of Saturday, 11 July, 2020. No agency resources are to be spent on what is a matter for the local police. Forward all evidence and paperwork previously gathered to the National Headquarters in Washington D.C..

Fredrick Armann, adjunct to the director.
Marchal’s notion that the agitators had not been local was confirmed by the letter. If the agency was no longer on the case the matter would quickly fade away, but he knew that the matter was far from over. He also knew where he could find some answers, even if he had to do it on his own.

He had a sudden craving for soe Russian food.

Wednesday evening, July 15, 2020

Sean, Mary, Jo and Mareka had just sat down to dinner.

“Tonight’s menu features Chicken Alfredo Baked Ziti, Parmesan broccoli and, especially for Mareka, a pan of patata bambino piccolo,“ said Jo as she lifted the lid of a serving platter with a flourish.

“Tater-Tots!” said Mareka, “Thank you! How did you know that is what I wanted?”

“A good chef never reveals her secrets,” said Jo.

After they had finished, Jo said, “How about dessert on the patio?”

“Another surprise?” said Sean.

“Everybody out!” said Jo, “I’ll bring it to you.”

Outside, the sky was dimming, turning toward dusk. A river of crows passed overhead, going to their night roost. The patio faced the back of the lot, looking directly to where it sloped down past the guest house. After the last of the crows had flown by the burble of Thorton Creek could be heard beyong the hedge at the rear of the lot. Jo slid the patio door open and brought out a tray with four dishes on it.

“Genuine cioccolato all’arancia!” said Jo.

“Genuine what?” said Mary.

“Gelato,” said Jo, “From Little Lago. Chocolate with orange.”

They ate their dessert in silence.

Finally, Mareka spoke up: “That was the best meal ever!”

“It was wonderful, Jo,” said Sean, “Although I noticed that you hardly touched your Tater-Tots.”

Everybody but Mareka laughed.

“What’s so funny about Tater-Tots?” said the child.

“I think we’re not alone,” said Mary, “Down by the creek, look.”

A surprisingly large raccoon had wandered up from the shadows in the underbrush near the creek. Eyes shining, it carefully checked out the group on the patio.

“Bright eyes!” said Mareka, “I’m going to call him Mister Bright Eyes.”

“Welcome” said Mary, “But don’t expect a handout, Mister. Bright. Eyes.”

“What does he like to eat?” asked Mareka.

“Everything, but he especially likes Tater-Tots.”

Next chapter: Returned to Sender

By Professor Batty

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