called out as she reached the yard and they
came to sniff her nethers and wag welcome.
They barked, jumped, and slapped tongues at
her until Victoria opened the main door.
She said, “Somebody dead?”
“not that i heard.”
“you walked over in this nasty crud just for
a visit, dear? you must be purty awful lonely.”
“i’m lookin’ for dad. i got to run him
down, and quick.”
That certain women who did not seem des-
perate or crazy could be so deeply attracted to
Uncle teardrop confused and frightened Ree.
He was a nightmare to look at but he’d torn
through a fistful of appealing wives. Victoria had
once been number three and was now number
five. She was a tall blunt-boned woman made
Nepotism, n. Appointing your grandmother to
office for the good of the party.
—Ambrose Bierce, 1906
lush in her sections with long auburn hair she
usually wore rolled up into a heavy wobbly bun.
She had a closet that held no jeans or slacks but
was stuffed with dresses old and new and most
of Ree’s things had first been worn by her. in
winter Victoria was given to reading gardening
books and seed catalogs and at spring planting
she disdained the commonplace Big Boy or Early Girl tomatoes in favor of exotic international
strains she got by mail and doted on and always
tasted like a mouthful of far pretty lands.
“ Well, then, come on in, kiddo. Shake off the
chill. Jessup ain’t here, but coffee’s hot.” Victoria
held the door for Ree. Victoria smelled wonderful
up close, like she always did, some scent she had
that when smelled went into the blood like dope
and left you near woozy. She looked good and
smelled good and Ree favored her over any other
dolly woman but mom. “teardrop mightn’t be
up yet, so let’s keep it down till he is.”
They sat at the eating table. a skylight had
been cut into the ceiling and leaked rainwater
from the low corners sometimes but helped a
lot to brighten the room. Ree could see through
the house to the front door and over to the rear
door and noted that a long gun stood ready be-
side both. a silver pistol and clip rested in a nut
bowl on the lazy Susan centered upon the table.
Beside the pistol there was a big bag of pot and
a pretty big bag of crank.