This is a work in progress. This work has been in progress for
about seven years now. Cynthia kept asking to read it and I kept
saying things like, "Frank Peebles just went through it and
made suggestions that I'd like to incorporate. John just did another
edit. Bruce Serafin gave me an idea for the plot, how I can glue
the stories together to make more sense."
Now it is too late for Cynthia to read it. But I will finish
it as a dedication to her, my first publisher.
The setting is winter in Winnipeg. The heroine, a laboratory
technologist, is trying, with her sibling, a lineman for the telephone
company, to construct an obituary for their mother to give to
the newspaper. Janice is a sibling, crippled and emotionally unstable.
"Okay," Brett says to Connie when he finally gets off
the phone. "We need an obituary. I've gotta call the office
and then the kids' coaches. We need it today."
He passes her some paper and a pen.
Brett and Denise like to take part in their children's activities.
Besides working at the school occasionally, they help run the
Little League baseball teams. Brett especially likes to be the
boss. Before the embezzlement charge, they ran the hockey too.
It was a phony charge Brett had explained. They wanted him out
so that someone else could take over.
As Connie writes, Denise opens a bottle of mineral water and
pours some for the three of them. She sighs, standing behind Connie.
Brett dials another number.
"You're starting to get gray hair," she says to Connie.
"You should use a rinse."
"I couldn't be bothered," Connie answers. "Besides,
there's mercury in rinses. The metal would get into my brain and
my brain's all I've got left."
Connie continues writing and doesn't look up from her paper until
she's finished. Then she reads, solemnly, quietly.
"Born in Hyas, Saskatchewan, (Carol) C-a-r-o-l - was the
last surviving child of Adam and Pauline Kwizak, sister of Michael
and twin sister of Karen."
"You've got it wrong," Brett interjects, phone receiver
glued to his ear waiting for an answer on the other end. Brett's
a multi tasker. "It should be (Coral) C-o-r-a-l."
"A stupid name. A polyp that swims around for a while and
then turns to stone."
"That's her name," Brett says with determination.
"It goes better with Lansdowne than Carol," Denise
offers in a tone that suggests that she was told this by Coral.
"Coral, served in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World
War ll and in 1951 she married Gordon Lansdowne, a post war immigrant."
"You can't put that in," Brett frowns. He has just
dialed another number and after pushing numbers on cue, is again
"Okay, a fucking immigrant," Connie says, correcting
her written work. "That's how Old Gord would put it. Fucking
immigrant. But listen until I'm finished. She was the proud mother
of three surviving children; Connie, prize-winning fecal-fat tester,
Brett, lineman who climbed too high, and Janice, rape and suicide
Brett moans and puts down the telephone before there is an answer.
Denise smirks. Connie continues, "Internment will be in July
when the ground thaws. In lieu of flowers, Coral requested donations
be made to the Free Smoker's Society."
Denise laughs for the first time since Connie has arrived. "Let's
send it in," she says.