When we finally reached the city Aunt Lucy’s car crept through the street in all the traffic. We went by one sign that read “City of Lakes,” and before I knew it we were driving by one of them. I noticed that there was a large lake not far away with lots of people walking, or biking, or skating. Aunt Lucy told me we would be out there ourselves soon. I liked the lake, but all those people frightened me. Some of them looked like me and the people I knew in Leifton. But a lot of them were different. Different colors. They spoke different languages. Some of them had
their heads covered, with robes down to their ankles as if they were walking around in a nativity scene. Some of them had earrings sticking out of places other than their ears. Aunt Lucy herself had three holes in one ear, and two in the other. I thought perhaps it was some of these people, so close to her house that had made Aunt Lucy do such a strange thing. The Good Lord put enough nooks and crannies into our bodies-we didn’t need to make more. And then there were the people with the green and purple hair. Mama would not have liked this one bit.
“Are all the lakes in Minneapolis like this?” I asked.
“With water in them?” Aunt Lucy said. “Yeah, pretty much.”
Aunt Lucy only pretended not to know what I meant. I was in her world, and she wanted to make sure I knew it. I tried to remember what Taffy said. Being family meant something, and I didn’t have anyone else-except my grandparents in Arizona, and even Mama in her quest to obey the Ten Commandments could never bring herself to honor her Mama and Daddy.
After Aunt Lucy’s story I could see why. We got to the house and I was relieved to see at least that was normal,
made of brick and stucco, not much different than Taffy’s house. Aunt Lucy showed me to the room that I could claim as my own for the time being. She explained that the house had two bedrooms, and a den. One of the bedrooms was for Uncle Frank and herself. Uncle Frank claimed the other bedroom as his office-where he kept his computer, a large drafting table, and various odds and ends. She let me peek in the doorway, but she told me I was to be sure never to go in unless Uncle Frank invited me. She wasn’t even allowed in without permission.
The room for me was much simpler, and that was fine by me. There was a wood framed daybed, a floor lamp, and a simple desk. The room also had a closet that Aunt Lucy promised she would clean out so that I could store my things, and she told me that one day soon we would go shopping to get me a proper dresser.
I thought about my new little corner room, and Uncle Frank’s palace of technology and art and I wondered if Aunt Lucy had a place for herself. Aunt Lucy looked around my new room. “This was my peaceful place,” she said. “But I think you need it more right now.” She had a sad look in her eye, as if her best friend in the world was about to go on a long journey.
“Oh!” She announced rather suddenly. “I almost forgot to show you my favorite place in the whole house!”
Aunt Lucy ran downstairs to a practically empty space as far as I could see. There was barely any furniture, and it was all scrunched at one end of this huge room. There was an obnoxious television and stereo system, and
right next to it a refrigerator with nothing but bottled water in it. The floor was made of shiny fake wood, and there was some goofy bar bolted onto one side of the wall. On the wall on the other side there was a huge drawing of
some guy wearing tights.
“This is my dance studio,” Aunt Lucy announced as if she were showing off the Grand Canyon or something.
“You like it?” she asked.
“It’s spacey.” I said.
“Well, you need space to dance.” She told me.
I walked over to the picture on the wall. “Who’s this?” I asked. “Where’d you get it?”
“Oh, I have to tell you, “Aunt Lucy began. “It’s such a beautiful story. Your Uncle Frank actually drew that; didn’t I tell you he was talented?”
I nodded, aside from it being a picture of a guy in tights, it was drawn well.
“He actually drew it for his brother Stuart about ten years ago. He’d been staying with his parents, but they threw him out when they found out he was gay. Frank took him in. He had the whole studio put in for him. Stuart’s a
dancer too. I met Frank through Stuart.”
I had only heard the word “gay” a couple of times and it was never a good thing. I found it quite unsettling that she would be associating with people like that. Mama said it was when men pretended to marry men and women pretended to marry women and it was the cause of that horrible disease that had now spread like wildfire killing innocent babies. It was obvious that Aunt Lucy knew I was disturbed, but she kept right on telling her story.
“Stuart was twenty-one, and about half way through college, majoring in Physical Education. He told his parents he’d be a teacher, and coach baseball or something. They were okay with that – although disappointed that Stuart was choosing something that would make him more money like Frank had. Then he told them his Minor was Dance, and that he was gay.
They shut him out completely-kicked him out of the house-and to this day, ten years later; they still haven’t spoken to him. They haven’t spoken to Frank either. They say he “chose” his brother. It’s not even like they live far away. They’re right here in the Cities, Maple Grove, I think.”
“Stuart called Frank after the big scene with his parents. He hadn’t told Frank yet, and he was scared to death he’d get the same kind of response.
But Frank said, “You’re coming to stay with me.” He set him up in the room we have for you, and told him he’d finish the basement while Stuart went to the Florida Keys for Spring Break. And Frank had the studio put in, and did the sketch of Mikhail Baryshnikov.
“But that wasn’t even all of it. He wrote a letter too. Frank’s not a big talker. Stuart let me read it and that’s when I knew I had to meet Frank. It was so beautiful the way it touched on how horrible it was to claim to love someone, and then abandon him so completely. He said he didn’t claim to be an expert on where God stood on the matter, but he wasn’t going to leave his little brother alone. He knew that wouldn’t be right.”
“That’s the thing about your Mama, Jennie, and I guess part of the reason why Frank’s letter to Stuart touched me so much. There’s a lot of things I’ve done in my life that she hasn’t approved of, but she never left.”
Aunt Lucy was getting teary, but I didn’t respond. Mama had left. Whoever this Stuart friend of Aunt Lucy’s was he could decide to be a regular person and get his parents back. Mine were gone for good.
“I’m tired,” I told Aunt Lucy. “I’m going to go up and take a nap.”
No Sensible People on Amazon
My Lulu Store