Photographs and Memories, part 5

December 16, 1918

Washington, D.C.

Dear Eula,

Yes, I shall be home well before Christmas. I have one more day of matters to attend to, then I shall be on my way, arriving on the 19th.

Don’t let Mother fret you. I certainly shall join the union when I return. Your friend Isabel is right; it is the only chance we have at a better life.

All my love to Caroline.



Wednesday, June 15 (cont.)

After dinner everyone gathered around me and my elevated ankle in the family room, adult beverages in our hands. Linda asked, “Denny, have you met Tyler’s in-laws yet?”

“No.” Dennis took a sip of his Jack Daniels. “Neither has Ty.”

I tried to picture the family that had produced Blair, and couldn’t. Doug said, “They’ll be at the rehearsal dinner, I suppose.”

“Yeah.” Denny shook his head. “The boys have twelve attendants each, if you can imagine that.”

There was a general murmur of disbelief. Dad said, “Are you paying for the dinner?”

“Half. Marilyn and Cliff paid the other half. Ty and Blair are paying for the entire wedding themselves. It must be costing them a fortune. Seems like a waste, all that money for one day.” He gestured at Pete and me with his glass. “They could have done it like you did. You’re just as married as they’ll be.”

Pete grinned. “Cheapest wedding ever.”

We all fell silent for a minute. I’d taken a pain pill and was starting to get dozy when the doorbell rang.

Dennis got up. “Who the hell’s that?”

Doug said, “Not expecting anyone?”

“No.” Dennis went to the door. I heard him speak to someone, then he returned. “Hey, everyone, it’s Groom One.”

Tyler flopped into a chair. “Hi, gang.” He looked unhappy.

Toni said, “Tyler, can I get you a drink?”

“Oh, God, yes. Wine, please. I don’t care what kind.”

Toni went to the kitchen. Dennis said, “What’s going on?”

“Blair’s family has descended. I had to get away from them.” Tyler shuddered. “They’re awful.”

I said, “Awful how?”

“Loud. Tacky. From Ohio or Iowa or one of those places. And his parents loathe each other, and both sets of parents showed up at the same time.”

Toni returned with a full wine glass and the bottle in a cooler. Tyler said, “Thanks, Toni.” He downed a healthy portion. “Blair didn’t think his father would come. He hasn’t even spoken to his father in over a year. We sent them an invitation just to be nice, and they didn’t RSVP. You can’t exactly say on an invitation, ‘Please don’t come,’ can you?”

Pete said mildly, “It’s not standard procedure, no.”

Dad asked, “Had you not met them before?”

“I’d met one of his aunts. She lives in Manhattan. She’s normal. The rest of them are -” Tyler shook his head. “There is no adequate word.”

Val said, “Did you just leave?

“Of course not. I told Blair I had to get out. He asked if he could come too. I said yes, but of course he couldn’t.”

I said, “They’re not staying with you, are they?”

“No, thank God. They’re at the hotel where we’re holding the rehearsal dinner.” Tyler sighed deeply. “I told Blair to text me when they left.”

Jeff said, “The rehearsal dinner oughta be a blast.”

Tyler drained his glass and filled it again. “Don’t even remind me. We have to modify the seating charts. All we need now is Tanner.”

I groaned. “Please tell me you didn’t send him an invitation just to be nice.”

No, duh.” Tyler slugged back another mouthful of wine. “I wouldn’t know where to send it.”

Dad looked concerned. “You don’t know where he is?”

Dennis said, “No. About ten months ago his roommates threw him out. Marilyn and Cliff said he could stay with them until he found a job. He stole one of Cliff’s vintage guitars to pawn, so they told him to leave. That was six months ago. We don’t know where he went. No one’s heard from him.”

Kevin said, “I’m sure he’s alive. They’d notify you otherwise.”

Toni made an expression of distaste. Linda saw it and raised an eyebrow at Kevin. “That’s a cheery thought.”


Dennis said, “Kevin’s right. I’m sure he’s fine. With any luck he’s in a nice warm jail somewhere.”

Kevin said, “I can find out, if you want.”

Tyler said, “Please do. I’d feel better, knowing that he couldn’t show up.”

“On it.” Kevin picked up his phone. When the other person answered he said, “Hey. You still at the shop?”

He must have called Jon, who must have said yes. “I need you to find out if someone is incarcerated anywhere in the country. Tanner Brodie. Yeah, the black sheep cousin. Date of birth…” He looked at Dennis.

“August 2, 1982.”

Kevin said to Jon, “8-2-82. I’ll wait. We’re at my uncle’s. Tanner’s brother is the groom and he’s afraid Tanner will show up. You been busy? Where? Jeez, what is wrong with people? Ugh. No? Okay, thanks, pard. Bye.” He hung up. “Tanner’s not in jail. Sorry.”

Tyler sighed. “Too much to hope for.” He’d slowed down his drinking pace; the wine must have been calming him. He swirled it in his glass, studying it. “I shouldn’t even tell you all this.”

Toni looked alarmed. Dennis said, “Tell us what?”


Draft card burning 1967. By Universal News ( [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

“Blair’s father was a draft dodger.”

Dad, Dennis and Sarge all shot looks at each other. Doug said, “Did he go to Canada?”

“Yeah. He’s proud of it.” Tyler looked at my dad, pleading. “Uncle Dave, I’m afraid he’s gonna make you mad.”

Dad said gently, “He can’t say anything worse than I heard when I got back from Vietnam. I won’t react.”

Kevin and Pete looked at each other, a look I recognized, a look I was certain they’d perfected during the years they were partners in the LAPD. The look said, We’ll handle this.

Jeff caught the look too. “Ty, I wouldn’t worry about that.”

“I don’t know. If Blair tries to make him be quiet by telling him that I’m from a military family – who knows what he’ll do?”

I said, “Ask Blair not to tell him that. What’s his father look like?”

Tyler made a face. “Short man syndrome. Little dick, big mouth.” He slapped his hand across his own mouth, eyes wide. “Oh, God, Toni, I’m sorry.”

Toni looked amused. “No need to apologize, Tyler. It’s a stressful time.”

Kevin asked, “Is he a scrawny little guy?”

“Yeah. Bald in front and a ponytail in back. Only wears Hawaiian shirts.” Ty scowled. “He was at Woodstock. He’s proud of that, too. You’d think he’d be a cool guy but he’s too obnoxious to be cool.”

Doug said, “Obnoxiousness is no respecter of ideology.”

Val said, “I’m gonna embroider that onto a pillow.”

That got everyone laughing. We were all still snickering when Tyler’s phone buzzed. He looked at the screen and said, “They’re gone. I can go home.”

Dennis said, “You can’t drive. I’ll take you.”

“Okay.” Tyler stood, a bit unsteadily. “G’night, everybody.”


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