“You still a hound dog?” she asked. She reached out to take my hand. Even at her age – 88 – there was still raw sinew in her. Her fingers, long and crimped, wrapped around mine, and gravity pulled me in. The gravity of family. She didn’t look near as wasted as Connie let on, but the frailty was telling. “How are you, David?”
“I’m all right,” I said. My throat was dry, other than the clog of phlegm caught in the back. “You doing okay?”
She laughed, paper-thin, but her eyes were bright and very blue. Did I ever know how blue? “Thought about baking you a cake. Hacksaw and all. Tell Connie to fetch me some powdered sugar. And my glasses.” Then the smile faded, and her face became hard and withered, like a baked apple. “You still howling at the moon and leaving po’ girls’ bones on your mantel?”
“I’m too old for that.”
“That’s not an answer.”
I shrugged. “Not so much. Most of them got smart.”
“But not all of them.”
“No, not all of them.”
She laughed again. “What would your Daddy say, I wonder. The Boden men were never very smart when it came to women. If I didn’t fish-hook your father when I did, no telling where we’d be.”
“And this is what we talk about fifty years too late.”
“That’s where we start.”
“This is where we start what?
“You know. And I know. And we need to sort it out. The thing that turned you into you.”
I wanted to be somewhere else. And I didn’t want to leave.