The Great Dane nudged the bathroom door open and began licking my tears.
I squeezed my eyes closed and whispered in her soft ear, “Thanks Mommy. My dream weaver told me you are the reincarnation of my biological mother, Marilyn Monroe. I’ll see you have a good life this time. I promise.”
I scooted away from Norma Jean and wiped my face off with a soft aqua hand towel. I hung it back on the chrome rod, across from the toilet. Picking up the trash can, I ambled around the corner to the small kitchen.
Mustard sauce dribbled from the left corner of my brother’s cantankerous mouth. I retrieved the trash bag from the white plastic kitchen can and emptied the bathroom trash into it.
“Hurry up with that.” Perry ordered as he tossed the sardine can in. “Is the boat here?”
He followed me into the living room.
“No. I dunno. I need to burn the trash.”
“Smoke signal? To find the island?” Perry burped. “I don’t know how the geezer got by around here. The satellite T.V. doesn’t even get good reception.” He glanced at Tammy lounging on the leather sofa. “Ginger, go and make me a coconut cream pie.”
“Oh, do you think we’ll be here that long? Hey, so you think I look like Ginger?” She smiled and drifted off to Hollywood.
Yeah she did look like a new and improved mixed race Ginger. She’s even clutching a script...hey, wait a minute...
Tammy said, “Lookit what I found.” she was holding Mike’s manuscript. “The geezer wrote a book and there’s a publisher that wants him to fix it and send it back.”
Perry dug between his molars with a wooden toothpick. “Let me see that.”
I grabbed the manuscript from her. “This is part of Mike’s estate. You leave it alone. It is personal, his work as an artist. Life’s labor. It belongs to his heirs now.”
Perry sucked his teeth after examining a chunk of fish and spitting it out the window. “She’s right. Everything in this house, including intellectual property belongs to geezer boy’s rightful heirs. So long as they know about it. Let me see it.”
He tried to tug it from me, but I shoved it under the waistband of my skirt, in the back. I knew he wouldn’t go there.
“Jeeze Oh-Donna. This guy had an affair with your mother. He was nothing more than a low life gigolo and you are trying to protect it like it’s the first draft of the Bible.”
“Maybe it is. But that’s not for you or any of us to decide. I’m making sure this does not get lost, I’ll see to it personally it goes to his rightful heir. I’ve got to burn the trash and you two need to clean the house. Have you seen any matches?” Gotta get their minds off the manuscript.
“On the ledge over the old cook stove, Gilligan.” Perry said with a snide chuckle.
It figures. He thinks I’m a buffoon. “I’m not Gilligan. I’m Mary Ann.”
Tammy said, “No, hon. She was a sweet young thing. You’d make a better Mrs. Howell.”
“Well Perry is the skipper. Big and fat and blustering!”
As I departed I said, “We need to clean this place before we close it up. And Perry, figure out who needs to be contacted to locate Mike’s next of kin. The hotel probably has that listed somewhere. Actually, why don’t you call them? They’ll need to know anyhow.”
I grabbed the trash and matches as Norma Jean and I made a quick exit. Setting the trashcan on the warped wooden porch floor, I kicked my shoes off. I stuffed the manuscript into my purse and slung it over my shoulder, holding it tight. I used one hand to shimmy out of my pantyhose/sausage casings and shook them out, hanging them over the peeling white gingerbread railing. Intricate cut-outs of hearts, spades, palm trees and rum bottles decorated the old fretwork. I wondered how old this place was. Who was the first owner? Did Mike build it? What was he like as a strapping young man?
I retrieved the trash and carefully footed my way down the three weathered steps, onto the gritty sand. It was mixed with rocks and shells. Hmm...perhaps I should’ve left my shoes on? Norma Jean bounded down and rand backwards ahead of me. Trying to help herself to the delicious scents emanating from the garbage.
I looked ahead and up, as the sunlight dappled the leaves of the mangroves and palms. An ocean breeze softly swayed the trunks. It carried with it the sent of the salty, fishy sea. I wondered if Mike caught his own fresh fish. Maybe crabbed and threw out shrimp nets too? Well, I’m sure he could have dropped crab boxes off the dock. I’m not exactly sure how shrimping goes. But I do adore eating them. Only with proper cocktail sauce though. I love making my own, extra strong, with low carb ketchup and prepared horseradish from the jar. Yum...I was getting hungry. Until I remembered seeing Perry eating the sardines. There went my appetite. My clothes are nearly hanging off of me though. So my diet must be working well. I do need to get some exercise soon.
Tammy, personal trainer to the Capitol Hill pork bellies, is always admonishing me “If you don’t exercise while loosing weight, all you’ll get is a smaller, flabby version of yourself. You wont’ be happy with the results.”
Yeah, I’m sure she’d love the commission on signing me up for her gym. It would be entirely out of the question for her to pass along a couple of free pointers to her own sister.