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 28 of 50 | Published Saturday, July 6, 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 26

So far: Still no Cloud, but Lucinda stays.

By the time Lucinda had two glasses of wine, I’d decided I better get some food into her if I didn’t want her to be completely sloshed before dinner. I brought the sushi out of the refrigerator and arranged it on my big fish platter.

I set it in front of her at the counter. She had made herself right at home, leaning over to watch me cook.

Using her long nails like chopsticks, she picked up a piece of tuna roll and eyed it, “I wonder if anyone’s ever done turkey sushi.”

“You mean raw turkey?”

“Yeah, like steak tartare.”

“I don’t know.”

She popped the whole piece in her mouth, then washed it down with a gulp of wine. “So, Wendy, what are you going to do with yourself?”

“Finish making dinner.”

“You know what I mean.”

The door opened with a bang. For a moment, I was sure it was Richard. My second thought was that I didn’t want to share him with Lucinda. Then I heard a loud voice gobbling at us.

Gary stood in the entryway. He was wearing a fur-lined hat, a down jacket, what looked like new Red Wing boots, and a pair of lined leather choppers. In his choppers he held a covered casserole.

I have to explain that Gary had had a traumatic experience when he was young. He had been on his way to a Boy Scout meeting, told to bring two empty one-pound cans for some crafty project. Gary forgot his mittens and he carried a can in each hand for about six blocks. The temperature had plunged to minus ten degrees. His hands froze to the cans. Severe frostbite.

To hear Gary tell it the surgeons were considering amputating both limbs. But if you look at his hands you will see no scarring left from the incident. His mother told me that a little warm water and he was right as rain.

However, he has never forgotten and when the temperature drops below freezing he bundles up as if he were on an expedition to the North Pole.

I looked at Lumberjack Gary, then at the casserole. “Green beans?” I asked.

He nodded.

I couldn’t hug him because of the casserole. He stomped in, which was the only way he could walk in his stiff new boots. I took the dish from him and set it on the counter in the kitchen.

Lucinda lifted the top off and looked down at the creamed green beans with the french-fried onion rings on top and asked, “What are those? Worms?”

I ignored her. I threw my arms around Gary. “What the hell are you doing here?”

“I couldn’t stand the thought of you all alone. Mint said I could skip her extended family dinner. Not a great hardship for me. They’ve never really appreciated my green beans.”

“Unbelievable.”

He took off his fur-lined hat.

“It’s warm in here, Gary. It’s safe to take off your down coat too.”

“Do you have a fire going?” he asked.

“No, but would you like to build one? Keep your coat on. I just got some wood. You can help me carry it in.” I grabbed a jacket and we walked out to the woodshed together.

Once we were out of earshot of the house, Gary nodded toward the door. “What’s she doing here?”

“She just showed up. With sushi.”

“I have no trouble with the sushi.”

“But on Thanksgiving?” I asked.

“You never know. Might be more authentic than turkey, eating raw fish with your Indian friends.” Gary held out his arms for wood. “Maybe Lucinda was worried about you.”

I piled up a couple pieces of wood in his arms. “Possibly, if I totally give her the benefit of the doubt. But I also think she’s going to try to get into Richard’s studio and see what he’s been working on. Sneaky bitch.”

“Oh, what’s the matter with that? After all, she’s his gallery owner. She should be able to see his work.”

“But not before me.”

“Oh?” Gary asked.

“Well, I haven’t been able to go in there yet.” I finished loading him up.

“Why not?”

“If you don’t understand, I can’t explain it.”

We headed back toward the house, each with an armload of wood, enough to keep a fire burning all night long.

“Oh, I get it. Like it’s his holy sanctum.”

“Something like that.”

“And if you don’t go in there you can keep on believing he’s still alive.”

I dropped all the wood I was carrying. “Shit.”

Tomorrow: Chapter 26 continues.

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