Eastern Standard Tribe – Day 55 of 64


Father Ferlenghetti showed up at Art’s Gran’s at 7PM, just as the sun began to set over the lake, and Art and he shared lemonade on Gran’s sunporch and watched as the waves on Lake Ontario turned harshly golden.

“So, Arthur, tell me, what are you doing with your life?” the Father said. He had grown exquisitely aged, almost translucent, since Art had seen him last. In his dog collar and old-fashioned aviator’s shades, he looked like a waxworks figure.

Art had forgotten all about the Father’s visit until Gran stepped out of her superheated kitchen to remind him. He’d hastily showered and changed into fresh slacks and a mostly clean tee shirt, and had agreed to entertain the priest while his Gran finished cooking supper. Now, he wished he’d signed up to do the cooking.

“I’m working in London,” he said. “The same work as ever, but for an English firm.”

“That’s what your grandmother tells me. But is it making you happy? Is it what you plan to do with the rest of your life?”

“I guess so,” Art said. “Sure.”

“You don’t sound so sure,” Father Ferlenghetti said.

“Well, the work part’s excellent. The politics are pretty ugly, though, to tell the truth.”

“Ah. Well, we can’t avoid politics, can we?”

“No, I guess we can’t.”

“Art, I’ve always known that you were a very smart young man, but being smart isn’t the same as being happy. If you’re very lucky, you’ll get to be my age and you’ll look back on your life and be glad you lived it.”

Gran called him in for dinner before he could think of a reply. He settled down at the table and Gran handed him a pen.

“What’s this for?” he asked.

“Sign the tablecloth,” she said. “Write a little something and sign it and date it, nice and clear, please.”

“Sign the tablecloth?”

“Yes. I’ve just started a fresh one. I have everyone sign my tablecloth and then I embroider the signatures in, so I have a record of everyone who’s been here for supper. They’ll make a nice heirloom for your children—I’ll show you the old ones after we eat.”

“What should I write?”

“It’s up to you.”

While Gran and the Father looked on, Art uncapped the felt-tip pen and thought and thought, his mind blank. Finally, he wrote, “For my Gran. No matter where I am, I know you’re thinking of me.” He signed it with a flourish.

“Lovely. Let’s eat now.”

Art meant to log in and see if Colonelonic had dredged up any intel on Linda’s ex, but he found himself trapped on the sunporch with Gran and the Father and a small stack of linen tablecloths hairy with embroidered wishes. He traced their braille with his fingertips, recognizing the names of his childhood. Gran and the Father talked late into the night, and the next thing Art knew, Gran was shaking him awake. He was draped in a tablecloth that he’d pulled over himself like a blanket, and she folded it and put it away while he ungummed his eyes and staggered off to bed.

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