Giving up the Ghost

A novel by Mary Logue published in installments each day in the Star Tribune from June 9 to July 28, 2013.
Day 40 of 50 | Published Thursday, July 18, 2013
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The story: Wendy was just 25 when she met Richard, a Minneapolis artist, at the New French Café. They fell in love, married, bought a cabin in northern Minnesota where they spent their summers. But when Richard died unexpectedly, Wendy found it difficult to move on. Because she kept seeing Richard’s ghost….
Mary Logue
Mary Logue is the author of more than twenty-five books, including poetry, fiction, nonfiction, mysteries and children’s stories. She has won a Minnesota Book Award, the Charlotte Zolotow Honor Award, and many other honors. She lives with her husband, writer Pete Hautman, in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

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Giving Up the Ghost

Chapter 32 continues

So far: Wendy stops Lucinda from getting in the studio.

At first, when Richard and I started dating, Lucinda tried to be pals with me. She would call up before an opening and talk about the new outfit she had bought and then ask me what I was going to wear.

After I told her, she’d cluck approvingly and then say, “You always look great. Funky, but great. Wendy, do you think you could try to get Richard to dress up a little?”

“Really?” I rather liked the way Richard dressed for openings — no different than he always dressed — jeans and some kind of button-down shirt.

“Well, collectors like to think that the artist they are buying work from knows more about the world than they do, is more sophisticated, whatever. These people are buying more than a piece of art. They’re buying a whole lifestyle.”

“They are?”

“Wendy, don’t act so naïve.”

“What would you suggest he wear?”

“Anything but one of those damn Pendleton shirts. Maybe he could put on a tie. Actually a tie would be great, make the clients feel more comfortable.”

“A tie? Are you serious? On Richard? Besides Pendletons are so retro, they’re back in style, don’t you think?”

“No, I do not. More importantly, my clients don’t.”

“A tie, really?”

“It could be funky or vintage. He could even paint it himself.”

“I’ll try.”

Which I did. I thought about it long and hard. I mulled over her comment about him painting it. There was no way Richard would paint a tie.

I realized that the only way I was going to get him to wear a tie was if I made one for him. I went to a thrift store and found an old silk tie, then I pulled out my bag of embroidery threads and went to work. Because it was for Richard, I embroidered a landscape with a turquoise blue lake, an orange sun. Inspired, I covered almost the entire tie with colorful tiny stitches, letting the original silk of the tie only show through when it worked in the landscape.

I found an old Dayton’s box and some blue tissue paper. I gift-wrapped the tie and gave it to him the night before the opening.

“What’s this?” he asked, holding the box, shaking it to see if it would rattle. Richard loved presents.

“Just a little something for the show tomorrow.”

He stared at the box. “Gloves?” he guessed. “Suspenders?”

I shook my head.

“God, if I didn’t know you better I’d guess this was a tie. It looks like the shape of a tie box. But you’re not my mom, you’re my darling partner. You would never give me a tie.” With that statement hanging in the air, he opened the box.

I didn’t dare look at his face.

“A tie!” he said.

“Yup,” I agreed.

“Wow! What a tie!” he said a little louder.

“Really?”

“It’s the most amazing tie I’ve ever seen,” he said. “An absolute textile masterpiece.”

“You like it?” I asked.

He wrapped it around his neck, over his Pendleton shirt, and stared down at it, smoothing it with his fingers. “I will never take it off.”

And so he wore my embroidered tie to the opening the next night. He wore it over his favorite Pendleton shirt. The blues and greens of the landscape were set off mightily by the red-plaid shirt he chose to wear.

Lucinda stared at his ensemble as he walked in the gallery door. Then she gave me a look.

Later, she sidled up to me and said, “So, you got him to wear a tie, I see.”

“The least I could do,” I told her.

“It’s magnificent.”

“Thank you.”

“But you couldn’t manage to do away with the shirt?”

I shrugged. “There’s only so much you can ask of Richard.”

Tomorrow: Chapter 33 begins.

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