From the story, Angelfish

As in:

Marjorie and I are heading toward Grandma Beth’s funeral. Our father’s mother was a pillar of humanity in a family which, before her, was not discernibly endowed with either wisdom or grace. It was a sad tragedy, but no departure from the coil of the brand, that her husband died at the hands of his brother, an insane event instigated by a petty argument over a $100 gambling debt, leading to the reckless display of a handgun.

For the last forty of her years she was a widow, a woman who permeated the world around her with the weight of books and the aroma of fresh-baked breads; a woman whose versatile wit could amuse children and deflect the rage of pompous men.

In the seat beside me, Marjorie is laughing, softly. At what I don’t know. We figure penetrating cosmic radiation affects her this way.

“Where is that place you got us lost that night coming back from Canada?” she asks.

“Washtucna,” I reply.

“No, no, no, no, it had a pretty name to it, like a flower.”

“Kahlotus,” I say.

“Kahlotus,” she repeats. “That was it.”

“You think that’s pretty?” I ask.

Marjorie laughs and slides her back lower in the seat. Over the rim of her sunglasses I see her eyes close.

The first dust devil of the afternoon spins weakly in the crotch between two hills. Jet contrails subdivide the southern part of the sky in a way that reminds me of a four-square court.

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