Tahoe hasn’t changed much. The Golden Spike still has that wooden statue of Sitting Bull out front. Where’d that picture go? I thought Mom used to keep it on her dresser: you and me and the Sioux Indian chief. The finds haven’t been too good. Picked up a carom board like the one we used to play with that summer at Cottontail. Thought you might like to have it. Lost a couple hundred at the Shores, but I met a guy at the table who says he can turn me on to a few estate sales. Good stuff. Swap meet rats love that shit. Things go quick, so I gotta get there early. I’ll make my way south ’til the U-Haul’s full, then home. Are you close to settling the probate? I could use the trailer to move everything into the house before turning it in. I’ll try to call when I get to Stockton.
Not much happening in the Central Valley, so I drove out to Bridgeport. Never understood why Mom was always bugging Dad to retire in Phoenix; California’s got plenty of desert right here in the Mojave. After estate sales, alley drags have been paying off most. Found a dinette set like the one in the kitchen. Did Aunt Linda give that to us or was it Gram’s? I’m headed north again to San Luis. Left a message for you with your secretary while you were in court. Don’t forget: I need to be out of those storage spaces by the fifth. I just read the fine print on the copy you gave me. Guess Mom’s still looking out for you with that 15 percent executor’s fee. Fine, take it, no hard feelings. Somebody’s got to be the favorite. We always worked best as a Smothers Brothers act. Maybe we can go fishing up at Castaic when I get back. I think our old rods are in the shed, but wait for me to go through everything, OK?
Pismo turned out to be a jackpot. I went down to Ventura for three days; they’ve got a flea market there that draws from as far away as L.A. Sold most everything; sorry about the carom board. Almost called to have you come up for the day. They restored the old pier and I spent a night at the Blue Dolphin, for old time’s sake. Mom used to say we stayed there because I liked the pool, but I bet a room like Gram’s at the Biltmore was more than Dad could fork out. I’m headed back up to Salinas for one more sweep. Figure I can use the garage to store whatever’s left. Been thinking about Mom’s Pontiac. Maybe we shouldn’t sell it so quick. I could use it to get around town when the truck’s full.
Walt gave me your message. Guess you knew I’d end up here eventually. Not surprised she’d pull this. Mom always had to have the last say, even in the afterlife. I’ll sign whatever you need. “Keeping up the property” is open to interpretation, isn’t it? I’ve learned that much about the law from you, little brother. San Francisco is full of secondhand shops, offering me three times what I paid for what she’s calling junk. Ran into Karen downtown; looks as good as she did when we were in college. Seems she didn’t know about you and Denise. Told her the divorce is final—hope I’m not jumping the gun. She might buy a coffee table from me so I’m springing for dinner tonight at Antonio’s. Maybe even have a bottle of wine to seal the deal.
I’m on my way home tomorrow, should be back by Thursday. Eureka was totally worth the trip. Got enough inventory now to set myself up at the Pasadena meet, if you include what’s in the storage spaces. Perhaps I should call you “Counselor” from now on? I know you think Mom had her reasons, but try it from where I’m sitting. Even though I’m crazy Nate, maybe she gave me the house ’cause I didn’t wreck a marriage. Cheating on your wife’s got to be a step or two below having a drifter for a son. Leave the key in the usual place, will you? Dinner with Karen went well, by the way. I’ll come by your office once I unload.
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Read an interview with LORI WHITE by KR FICTION Editor NANCY ZAFRIS.