Thursday, January 10, 2013

Ed Strand

MONGREL

When they ran into each other in Barcelona, they recalled their time together, some of it good, some not so good, but she forgave him. Afterwards, Penn asked Vi to walk along Las Ramblas with Cassie at a certain hour so he could see what his daughter looked like.
She took Cassie shopping, at the designated time. The crowd and the heat unwittingly maneuvered a separation he used to his advantage. In a souvenir shop, he made her acquaintance. His Spanish accent was by then convincing to a young American. He gave the girl a package and told her it was the ashes of his mistress. He begged her to bury it under a particular tree in Central Park. He told her his mistress had died with a broken heart because she had not been able to return to the States. “I know this is illegal,” he said, “but nobody would suspect a beautiful young woman like you. The reward for your discretion will be great.”
She refused the money saying she was moved by the expression of his undying love.
When she met her mother later, she told her she had gone shopping for souvenirs, and was carrying several similarly wrapped packages.

* * *

On the return voyage, at first, Cassie did not tell her mother of the strange man's request. Eventually, however, a mother-daughter conversation brought out the tale of Cassie's mission.
Vi put two and two together and came up with her ex-husband. Her first reaction was to grow furious thinking he had duped her into bringing Cassie into his realm because he must have known she would never have agreed to transport his lover's ashes, but then she thought she understood his pain. The fear of a confrontation with the customs authorities, however, gave rise to her decision to bury her rival at sea, quietly one evening, without telling Cassie.
When he saw her at the hotel in New York, he brazenly asked her if he could have the package. Realizing she had been duped, she seemed to barely stifle laughter when telling him of the sentimental private service she had performed while under the impression she was tossing the ashes of a dead person into the briny deep. “What was in that package?” she asked, but without waiting for his answer, she slapped him, and dared him to follow her out of the hotel lobby.

* * *

While he was being scorned by Vi in the hotel lobby, Cassie was burying his package under the tree she thought he had designated.
It was not until her mother's birthday several weeks later, when Cassie discovered the gift she had bought in Barcelona was missing. That evening her mother told her she must have accidentally thrown the wrong package overboard and the next day they took the train down to Manhattan to try to retrieve the parcel in Central Park, now certain that it held something more intriguing than a fictitious somebody's ashes.
They located the tree and dug until they were given a summons by a park ranger, but they could not find the package. Apparently, someone else had, and a sniffing mongrel was suspected in having led to its unearthing.
“May I ask what my gift was to have been?” Vi said.
Cassie remained silent, looking from the summons to the dog and back again, wishing she had accepted some of the money her father had offered her.

© Edward V. Strand 2013

Ed Strand has written on the Six Sentence Social Network and Thinking Ten, and also tried his hand at blogging a semi-journal called Stranded Online before his muse went on hiatus.

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