The Bootlegger's Daughter

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How We Deal With Death

Outside was cold, yet it was only October yet it almost felt as if winter had hit early. I knew where the funeral parlor was and could get there with no problem, it was just a somewhat far walk. Besides the cold it was quite nice. Walking anywhere alone is nice. I have never been alone my whole life so I savor the little moments. I am the eldest child but Mary has always lived with us and she is older than me.

The funeral parlor was a medium sized building that was very old. There is a joke that this parlor was there when the city was founded. Of course that’s not true. Father is acquaintances with the current owner, Mr. Gabriel DeRossi. I believe they met back when Father was still in school and they never fell out of contact although they were never very close.

I walked up the stairs and through the front door. The parlor used to be a house but the downstairs was converted to the funeral parlor while Mr. DeRossi and his family live upstairs. Inside was a hall that led to separate rooms. Each room was small and could hold a family and one diseased person. Grandfather’s room was the first one; the biggest one. There was another group of mourners there for some old man, but there were only three or four people. How sad that that man must not have been well liked.

Grandfather’s room was loud but not in a disrespectful way, but rather because there were a lot of people there. I pushed past them all and went to the front of the room where Father was. He still had pronounced dark circles under his eyes and he looked sad, but wasn’t crying.

“You know I love you.” He said as he grabbed me into a hug. Although I was (and still am as my birthday hasn’t come yet) sixteen, Father saw me as his little girl. I was, like I said earlier, his child, but Father saw me as some three year old running around with hair done up in braids. It’s a sweet notion but sometimes it made me feel odd when I wanted to me tough and Father was holding me in his arms.

“Yes, I know.” I replied while trying to get out of the hug. My wiggling around was successful and I was let out of Father’s arms. I somewhat wandered around the room, trying to avoid looking at Grandfather’s body. David was up in the front, right next to the body. I wanted to talk to him even though I had nothing to say, but I didn’t because I couldn’t bring myself to go over there.

Instead I found myself at a small table that had pictures of Grandfather on in. One of them was Grandfather and my grandmother on their wedding day. I’ve never met my grandmother because she died in 1900 and I was born in ’06. Even Mary hasn’t met her. There were some other pictures of Grandfather with his wife and children, but I really found myself looking at a photo taken on Father’s wedding day. There in the center of the picture was my parents. Father hadn’t changed the way he looked at all in eighteen years. There was also Aunt Emma holding Mary’s hand, Uncle Johnny, and Uncle Henry off to the sides of them. And of course there was Grandfather. Maybe the reason I was so fascinated with the photograph was because it had Mother in it. I rarely see her in them as she took most of the photos I had.

Another photo that was hard to take my eyes off of was one taken only a few months ago at Grandfather’s birthday. The entire family was there. It is a nice picture but John is making an odd face in it. While I was looking at that one someone walked up behind me. I tried to ignore him.

“Do you like the photographs, Lucille?” Sourman asked me. I somewhat jumped when he started talking because I wasn’t expecting it and thought he would just go away. I turned around and sadly saw that he was not looking any better than he normally does.

“Yeah they’re nice.” I said while my voice trailed off. “And please don’t call me ‘Lucille’.” I said with more confidence than I had originally.

“I am sorry. I forgot that you don’t like going by the name your parents gave you.” Have I mentioned before how I don’t really care or Sourman? I gave him a quick glare and I walked past him. I had spotted Mary sitting in a chair and I went to join her. I sat down next to her and saw that she was fidgeting and wringing her hands around something. I put my hand on top of hers and Mary stopped moving. She opened up her hand and inside was her handcuff.

“I’m nervous, Lucy. I’ve never really felt like this before. There is a war going on inside my mind.” Mary said quietly.

“What are you planning to do?” I asked her.

“How do you know I’m planning something?”

“Why else would there be a war inside your mind?” I replied in a way that wasn’t really a question. “I know what you are thinking. I know what you are planning.”

“You don’t know anything about me!” Mary yelled in a whisper.

“Have you told your mother about Mr. Connor?” I asked.

“If you know so much about me then you would know the answer to that question.” Mary said angrily.

“I never said that I knew everything about you, just that you are debating on telling your mother about your engagement.” I said in an angry whisper to match hers. Mary was silent. “I do support you and I think it is important that you tell your mother.” Mary was silent again. She was looking down at the ring in her hands. Contrary to what I told Mary, I didn’t know what Mary was thinking. I thought I did, but I didn’t. But I could tell that she was deep in thought.

“What are you two oddballs doing over here?” Robert said from behind us. He had his hands on the back of our chairs. Mary hid the ring back in her hand but not before Robert noticed that she had something.

“We’re doing nothing, Robert.” I said in a rude tone while I turned my head to look at him. Robert made a fake sad face.

“Now you don’t have to be mean to me. But do not worry, I forgive you. These are trying times after all. Isn’t there some Thomas Paine quote or something that goes like that?” Robert said in almost one breath. Robert and David could both talk until the end of the world if given the chance.

“‘These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the-’” I started to quote back to Robert. Truthfully I’m surprised that he paid enough attention to even remember that quote or who Thomas Paine even was.

“Yeah, I don’t care. Now what I do care about is what my dear sister is hiding.” Robert said as he looked at Mary. I looked over at her too but she just put her head down. “Come on Mary. Show us what you have.”

“I have nothing.” Mary said quietly. I made the slightest laugh, but Robert took notice of it.

“Maybe you know then.” He said while turning his attention and head to me. “What does she have?” Robert asked me.

“I’m afraid I can’t tell you.” I said. Robert sighed, knowing that he was going to make little to know progress with us.

“There sure is a lot of people here.” Robert commented.

“Yes. It’s because Father invited the whole family.” I replied.

“I know why, I was there too.”

“Oh did you hear, Father is going to give me a very large role in our war with the McKays?” I asked excitedly. Oh to go back in time when I was actually happy to fight them.

“No! Sweetie didn’t mention anything like that at the meeting. I pay attention sometimes. Which makes you a liar.”

“He told me afterwards. And if you don’t believe me than you can go right up to him and ask him.” I said while pointing to my Father, still standing up in the front.

“What are you going to be doing?” Mary asked.

“I am going to convince some girl to let us all in.” I said.

“Yeah right!” Robert said. It took a long time for him to believe me.

“Well come on then; let’s go and ask my father and we can see who is the liar.” I said while getting up. I walked over to my father with Robert right by my side.

“Father, is it or is it not true that I have an important role with the war against the McKays and I’m going to convince them to let us in?” I asked.

“Yes.” Father said with a sigh. “You shouldn’t be speaking of your grandfather’s killers right in front of him at his funeral.” Father somewhat scolded me. I gave a quick glance over to Grandfather. There right at the front was David and John having an almost silent conversation. “Have you paid your respects? Your brother has been up there almost the entire time.” I looked down at my feet which was all the answer Father needed. “Go do so.” Father said.

“Yes, Father.” I replied in a defeated voice.

“Nice going.” Robert whispered to me as I walked over to Grandfather’s body.

“Shut up.” I whispered back.

I stood at Grandfather’s side and looked at his body. I didn’t like looking at it. Everytime I see dead bodies I get very uncomfortable. I don’t like to think of death in a very real sense. David came up to my side and gave me a hug. I didn’t hug him back, just let my little brother who was over a head taller than me clutch to me. I looked at David and his eyes were red again. There was a feeble attempt to wipe up tears.

“Do you miss him?” David asked me.

“Yeah.” I replied before trying to get out of his hug too. If Father saw David and me fighting right next to the body at a funeral then we surely would be dead. My efforts were successful and I had gotten out of two unwanted hugs that day. I went to go sit by Mary and we sat in silence until the service took place.

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