Willowbrook is the estate where Mitch, the narrative character of A DEAD GUY AT THE SUMMERHOUSE, works for “Aunt Missy,” the elderly recluse of the family. In this excerpt, Aunt Missy explains how Albert, the “dead guy” of the title, came there. A DEAD GUY AT THE SUMMERHOUSE is set in 1968.
The Trashing of Willowbrook
excerpt from A DEAD GUY AT THE SUMMERHOUSE
by Marian Allen
“He was short of money, so I gave him small sums and we pretended I was paying him to be kennel-master for the dogs, who were only puppies at the time. When the whim struck me to come home that year for a family Christmas, I invited Albert to join me. I was surprised when he agreed.”
With the last sentence, Aunt Missy’s voice took on a faintly pleading tone, as if she were entering a defense.
“I had only planned staying through New Year’s, but Albert spent several days shadowing Matthew.” Her lips twitched, probably remembering Mr. Walton’s reaction to his shadow. “He – Albert – charmed the local officials and club-women he met those days, and I found he had been invited to speak to various groups through March. He suggested I leave, if I wanted to; if Matthew threw him out of Willowbrook he could find somewhere else to stay. I was still amused; I stayed to see what tricks he would get up to next.”
Tricks. Like a dog. A pet monkey, like Sandy called him. And all the time, he was picking at her nephew and making passes at every woman who caught his eye and sweeping the hired help off her feet. Nice guy. I mean, since the draft, some of my best friends were expatriates up in Canada, but I hoped they knew how to behave in somebody else’s house.
“He asked to stay for the Kentucky Derby, and I agreed. As each event passed, he found other sights and events he couldn’t bear to miss, and I indulged him. Then he wanted to experience a real Indiana Fourth-of-July. Then he was dead.”
Then her brothers and her sister-in-law were dead, and her niece Eleanor had to be “taken care of.”
“Jason and Joan and Alain…. Their car went off the road on the way to the funeral. Albert’s funeral. He was buried here. He had no next-of-kin that they could find.”
Aunt Missy must have figured that, since she’d brought him home in the first place, it was her fault that four people were dead and another one was damaged inside. Two, counting Corrie. So she had sent herself to her room for five years.
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A WRITING PROMPT FROM ME TO YOU: Explain how somebody got to the location they’re in.