April 3, 2020
Marian has convinced me to scrap my ideas for a memorial to Victor. I was letting my imagination run amok because of my admiration for the man. Instead, we are going to have a small gathering on our street, with neighbors placed a pandemically necessary ten feet apart.
As Marian leaves my front yard, we both turn and see an old battered Nissan in Victor’s driveway. Sukey, Victor’s sister, slides out lugging a large carpetbag purse and wobbles slightly as she steps forward. She lumbers up to the porch and inserts a key in the front door.
“I’m going to go and pay her a neighborly visit,” I say, not even knowing this plan until it comes out of my mouth.
“You can’t,” Marian says. “No visits. Ten-foot rule.”
“There’s no rule against visits per se, as long as you don’t touch anything.” As I say this, I am aware that much of our rule-making is invented on the spot and altered at our own convenience.
Sukey opens the door and invites me in. I look around and see nothing changed from the last time I was here. We migrate into the kitchen. This is where Victor was found. Lying on the floor. I feel tears gathering behind my eyes.
“Was there something you wanted?” Sukey stands stiffly near the door to the dining room.
“No. I just saw you drive up and I thought I’d tell you to count on me if you need anything. I keep an eye on this house anyway.”
“You could do me one favor,” she says, glancing over her shoulder. “Keep an eye out for that nut case that lives next door. Let me know if you see him over here.”
“Right. I wouldn’t put it past him to set this house on fire . . . or something.”
“Why would he do that?”
I think Sukey realizes that setting this house on fire makes no sense. You can’t get even with a dead man. She doesn’t answer my question, just mutters something unintelligible. “Can I offer you something to drink?”
I shake my head, knowing that offer wasn’t intended to be taken seriously. “You understand,” I say, “we can’t have a funeral, right? It’s so odd . . .”
“At least we don’t have to go through that useless, outdated ritual. I hate funerals. Always have.”
“What will happen to this house, now?” I hurry to soften my question. I know Sukey remembers the brouhaha that I caused when Victor, at Carla’s insistence, had tried to buy up the whole block. Carla, Victor’s second wife, moved in after they married and quickly set about to run Victor’s life. It was Carla, not Victor, who wanted to expand the property to a huge sort of plantation she referred to, not even laughing, as the “Anderson Compound.”
“Who knows? Depends on who gets it.” Sukey turns toward the front parlor and, with a sweep of her hand, invites me in to sit a spell. She plumps herself down in a velvet-upholstered love seat, filling the whole space herself. “The lawyers are Christie and Scarlet. They are the executors of the estate and they’ll figure it out. I don’t expect to get anything myself. Victor never did like me much.”
Bull shit, I thought. Sukey got on Victor’s nerves but he wouldn’t leave his twin sister out of his will.