The Mona Lisa Sisters

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Chapter 20

Louis Brandies and Giovanni Bartolini are waiting at the foot of the gangplank. Neither man looks happy. Mr. Brandies welcomes us with barely concealed annoyance. His arms cross and uncross as he clenches and unclenches his jaw. It’s no wonder, I’ve caused him a great deal of aggravation in the short time he has represented me.

“I must tell you Mrs. Myer, that you have put me in an awkward situation. A position I do not enjoy. If it weren’t for Mr. Bartolini…Giovanni, I would return your retainer and be done with you.”

“I understand Mr. Brandies. I can only hope that you do not abandon me in my time of need.” He is glowering at me with a cold stare that suddenly warms. His gaze moves away from me. I follow his look. Joseph joins us. The two men embrace.

“Louis it is grand to see you.”

“Likewise Joseph. When I agreed to represent Mrs. Myer, I had no idea you two were related, had I known, I would have suggested that you handle her affairs.”

“I think you’re the right person to handle her business issues.”

“Have you met Mr. Bartolini?”

“No, I’ve not had the pleasure. Mrs. Myer has told me a great deal about you Mr. Bartolini.”

Mr. Bartolini extends his hand and speaks for the first time. “It is an honor Mr. Myer. Mr. Brandies has spoken highly of you and your abilities.”

Mr. Brandies speaks to the two men, while ignoring me. “We should press on to my firm where we can address Mrs. Myer’s situation in the privacy of my office.”

I’ve had all I can take of the men and their collegiate conversation. “Gentlemen, do you realize that the girls and I are standing here. You are here to represent me, not treat me as a child. Now, have arrangements been made for us? We can continue this conversation in my hotel suite once the girls have been cared for. Have I made myself clear?”

Giovanni and Joseph are abashed and apologize. Mr. Brandies glowers at me.

“Mrs. Myers, I mean Lura, I’ve reserved a suite at the Waldorf for you and the girls.” Anticipating my concern, Mr. Bartolini adds, “You needn’t worry, you’ve not stayed in this suite before.”

“Thank you Giovanni.”

“You’re welcome. I’ve seen to your luggage, and that of Mr. Myer. I took the liberty of booking him into the Waldorf as well. I have a carriage for you, me, and the girls. There is a cab standing by for the gentlemen.”

“Ah, I should have known you would have all arranged. Shall we go?” I ignore the two lawyers.

Joseph speaks, “Mr. Bartolini, like Mr. Brandies, I have a home here in New York. I will not require lodging.”

“Joseph, I would feel safer if you would stay near us for at least a few days. Until we know what obstacles and dangers we face.”

Joseph makes a display of chivalry as he executes an extravagant bow followed by, “Madame, your wish is my command.” The girls think Joseph is funny and giggle. As he straightens, he gives them an exaggerated wink. It is more than they can stand. Running to him, they throw their arms around him. It is obvious. They’ve decided he is to be their uncle. Both are laughing and calling him Uncle Joseph.

Joseph is beaming. Taking each of the girls on an arm, he announces, “Ladies allow me to escort you to your carriage.” The three follow Giovanni leaving Mr. Brandies and I alone.

“Well Mrs. Myer you seem to have had quite an adventure. Shall we retire to your hotel and begin to put things in order?”

“Have you then decided not to abandon me to my just desserts?”

“No Madame, I will not abandon you. I must tell you, I’m mightily displeased with some of your actions.”

“That is fair. I have been somewhat reckless these past few weeks.” His facade begins to break. I can see the beginnings of a smile and just the hint of a twinkle in his eyes.

“Madame, you stretch the meaning of somewhat reckless.” Offering me his arm, Mr. Brandies adds, “Let us begin the process of returning to normalcy, and to ensuring that those two lovely girls receive your name. But first we have a funeral to attend to.”

Although we don’t publicize the funeral of Francis Patrick Dean, word spreads throughout the community and it is well attended by denizens of the Irish underworld.

Saint Stephen’s Church is ninety years old. Mr. Bartolini, the only Catholic amongst us, had travelled to Boston to help with the arrangements. Arriving at the church, I was much pleased with the location and the edifice. Made of red brick with a facade of white columns, the building is topped with a clock tower that holds the belfry. Mr. Bartolini introduces me to the priest the day before the service which the Catholics call a funeral mass. “Mrs. Myer, may I present you to Monsignor O’Sullivan.”

Monsignor O’Sullivan, a pleasant man, is short, rotund, with rosy cheeks and a bulbous red nose. From his appearance and the odor of whiskey about his person, I deduce he is fond of his drink. The Monsignor takes me by the arm, “Please Mrs. Myer allow me to show you about our lovely church and tell you a little of our history.”

I’m not the least interested in the history of this or any other Catholic Church. Before I can convey that message to this old priest, Giovanni signals me to agree to the man’s wishes. “But of course Monsignor. I would be honored.” Feigning interest, I allow him to drag me about the church. “The cornerstone was laid on September 23, 1802. It was built by the Congregationalists as the New North Church. Unlike traditional Catholic churches, they built a perfect square, 72 by 72. The property was acquired by the Archdiocese of Boston in 1862 and consecrated as Saint Stephens.”

“Quite interesting Monsignor.” My lack of interest must show through my attempt at conviviality.

“Ah, but this is not why you’re here Mrs. Myers. Why don’t you and Mr. Bartolini follow me to the parish office?”

Now all business, Monsignor O’Sullivan explains the funeral mass. This is followed by questions for Giovanni. “I understand that all the arrangements for internment have been finalized with North Cambridge Catholic Cemetery.”

“Yes Monsignor the arrangements are complete. Mr. Dean is to be buried next to his wife.”

“Will his body be at the wake?”

I look to Giovanni, a silent question, “What wake?”

Giovanni addresses the priest, “We have no plans for a wake?”

“I understand that there is a wake this evening. Members of his old gang, I mean business associates, have announced a wake in his honor at O’Grady’s Tavern. It is but a short walk from here.”

I know nothing of such an event and tell the priest so. Giovanni confirms my statement with an additional comment. “We shall not be in attendance.”

“Your attendance is not required. However, some of his old friends may take offense should Mr. Dean’s daughters not make an appearance.”

Looking the priest straight in the eye, I say, “I care not what those hooligans wish. They likely had Mr. Dean murdered. The girls and I will be in a carriage behind the hearse with armed detectives to protect us should any of them attempt to interfere in the funeral. The sole purpose of this is to allow the girls to say goodbye to their father.”

“I understand Mrs. Myer. Whether you attend the wake or not, is your choice. Nevertheless, you should know that several hundred of his friends and acquaintances will be here for the funeral mass. Many of them will wish to pay their respects to the family. Be prepared to receive words of condolence. I expect the church to be filled to overflowing.”

I have had all I can take for the day from this old priest. “Thank you Monsignor, we will take our leave now. If you have need to reach us, we will be at the Omni Parker House.” I need not have worried, the funeral service ran smoothly, and the Irish ruffians behaved.

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