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 29 of 50 | Published Sunday, July 7, 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 continues

So far: Gary arrives uninvited for Thanksgiving.

I put the potatoes on to boil. Gary and Lucinda were squabbling over something and pouring each other more wine. This was not the Thanksgiving I had imagined. Who needed family when you could have dysfunctional friends?

I remembered the time Gary tried a new way to make mashed potatoes. He had invited Richard and me over for dinner and decided to try his new technique.

He took a couple pounds of potatoes and shredded them in the food processor. He figured that way they’d cook much more quickly. He dumped them into a large pan of boiling water and cooked them for about fifteen minutes. It was at this point that we arrived for dinner. He proudly drained most of the water off and poured in some milk and stirred it all together.

He had a lovely orange bowl to put the so-called mashed potatoes in. They were a gray color and had the consistency of sludge. I didn’t say anything. Richard took a very small helping of the potatoes.

After taking a bite, he spit them out. “Amazing. You have succeeded in making glue.”

I didn’t bother to try them. Gary made a point of eating a whole bite, and then scraped the rest of them back into the bowl.

After dinner, Gary set the bowl of glutinous potatoes down on the floor next to the dog dish. Even his dog refused to eat them.

• • •

“Where’s your new kitty?” Gary asked.

Lucinda had poured him some more wine and we were finishing up the sushi. I thought that Cloud might like some, so I put a piece of tuna roll back in the fridge for her.

“I can’t find her. She’s disappeared. I’m afraid she might have slipped out of the house.”

Gary pointedly looked at Lucinda and said, “I’m not surprised.”

Lucinda answered, “I like cats. They like me. It was already gone when I got here. So there, Mr. No-Taste-Whatsoever.”

“Ms. Nose-So-High-She-Can’t-See-Anything.”

“Mr. Green-Beans.”

“Ms. Squishi Sushi.”

“Mr. Big Bad Bunyan.”

Dysfunctional and clever. I started laughing. I couldn’t help it. They both turned and stared at me like I had a problem.

Chapter 27

“Hi, honey.” My father sounded full and drowsy, the result of too much turkey, I was sure.

I had answered the phone in the living room and was irritated to hear such a satisfied sound in my father’s voice. Why had he chosen another woman over me? Lucinda and Gary were snarling at each other in the kitchen. I had thought a glass of wine might mellow Gary but instead it had just sharpened his tongue.

I tried to be nice. “Hi, Dad. Are you still at Carol’s?”

“Yes, we just finished with the main course. We’re all taking a break before dessert. Carol made mincemeat pie.”

My dad hated mincemeat pie. “That’s too bad. Where are you?”

“I’m outside on my cell. I had to get away from everyone for a little while. Carol, as you might remember, has five kids and they all have five kids and I think even some of the grandchildren have started propagating. I lost count at around thirty plates, and can’t remember anyone’s name. I just wanted to call and see how you were doing on your own.”

“Gary and Lucinda have stopped by.”

“I thought you were going to be alone?”

I was sure they could hear me. “Yes, a pleasant surprise.”

“Oh, you didn’t know.”


“Not really. Thank you so much for the flowers. They’re lovely. You saved my life. I had totally forgotten to get any. How was Carol’s turkey?” Meat was important to my father.

“Decent.”

“Just decent.”

“A little boring. Nobody can prepare a turkey quite like Richard.”

“I know.”

“You guys knew how to do a Thanksgiving dinner.”

“I know.”

“I miss that guy,” my dad said with a slight quaver in his voice.

“I miss him too, but I’m not crying today.”

“Why not today?”

“It’s a holiday. I’m taking it off.”

“That’s smart.”

Tomorrow: Chapter 27 continues.

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