A DEAD GUY AT THE SUMMERHOUSE is set in 1968 because I started writing it in 1968. Like the protagonist, Mitch Franklin, I was 17-18 that year.
Another major character was Aunt Missy, who was 71. It was hard to imagine being THAT OLD. I’m 64, about to turn 65, and it’s appalling how close I nailed it. I suppose it’s because, although our bodies betray us, we’re still ourselves inside.
Anyway, here’s a scene between Mr. 17 and Miss 71.
A DEAD GUY AT THE SUMMERHOUSE
excerpt — by Marian Allen
I had to grin, in spite of everything. “Yes, ma’am. I guess I start tomorrow.” Now I came to think of it, my clerical duties had been given short shrift. File this under D for Demon, and throw a little holy water on my son.
“Dinner tonight was appalling,” Aunt Missy said. “Not the food, of course. One thing I will say for Matt Walton, he knew a good cook when he saw one. I was afraid he would let Sandy and Ava go, after the accidents, since Mary was so set on it, but he stood firm for once. The way to Matthew Walton’s backbone, apparently, is through his stomach.”
Wong snorted meaningfully at me and trotted to the clothes press, snuffling at the drawer where his and Chan’s leashes were kept.
“Oh, he’s a clever boy!” Aunt Missy cooed.
You couldn’t say the same for me: It had taken me until now to see with my mind what I’d seen with my eyes that morning.
“You had Wong on a leash. Why not Chan?”
“I beg your pardon, dear?” Aunt Missy looked up at me with figurative cookie crumbs all over her.
“This morning. Why was Chan loose? Wong wasn’t.”
Her little fists opened and closed, and I saw that one had a purple band across it and down her first finger. She turned her head away and thump-thump-thumped her fists on the arms of her chair.
Softly, I said, “He got away from you, didn’t he?”
She nodded. After an attempt at a light laugh, she said, “The wages of a life of frivolity. I’m a feeble old woman at seventy-one.”
Seventy-one sounded like a respectable age for being feeble to me, at seventeen. What did she expect at seventy-one?
“Why didn’t you come tell me he got away? Ava knew where I was, or Dr. Andrew.”
“I was ashamed.” She held her hands in her lap and looked at them: soft and rounded, pink and clean. “Useless,” she said. I sat in the chair next to her and took her bruised hand. It was clammy and it shook.
Damn. Yeah. I mean, I could still hold onto a Pekingese’s leash, but I’m a-gettin’ there.
A DEAD GUY AT THE SUMMERHOUSE is available at Amazon for Kindle and in print, and the audiobook is in production.
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Write a scene with a character realizing they’re older than they feel.