Daniel Finneran


Dearest Evelyn:
by Daniel Finneran

Dearest Evelyn: I must say I am looking forward to your arrival. Your ‘arrival,’ and not your ‘coming on,’ nor any of these other, I suppose, nautical sorts of terms my sister is always using to refer to her house. People ‘coming on,’ ‘fore,’‘aft,’; I have no idea when her house became some sort of boat. But, alas, she is also your Aunt so I shall not be overly disparaging. Such is her path. I shall not block it by going too far ‘leeward.’ I suspect you shall be coming with your new ‘friend.’ I look forward to meeting thus. And, I also suspect, now that your former ‘friend’ has been let go, I can make only the quick comment that I too am relieved. He seemed a few seconds behind, or some such thing. I couldn’t really put my finger on it. But, relative to men in general there is an author -- I believe she grew up somewhere in Africa, I forget her name now -- who was

Dearest Evelyn


told by her mother that, in the end, one is pretty much as good as another. As long as they are polite, clean, and go to work on Monday, I think you will find this a good, hard, reliable truth. I hear yours is an engineer of some kind. And I think that sounds quite good, all things considered. I hope he builds bridges. I have always wanted to meet one of these men that builds bridges. I find it remarkable that so few fall down. Kevin -- I believe that is his name -- may stay in the apartment over the carriage house. If Kwong-Po is still there, I am sure he won’t mind bunking with him. Kwong-Po is, of course, leaving us. He has been working Oh so hard on his pieces for graduation, and so music is constantly filling the house. Mostly Bach and Beethoven, and some Chopin. Though I must admit I like the Germans best. Germans and a little Louis Armstrong. The only jazz I like. And think that is mostly because I met Mr. Armstrong. The only genius I have ever met. What a wonderful man. Kwong-Po is not even sure what he will be doing after graduation, but feels he can get enough tutorial work to move into the city and an apartment. It must be a source of perplexity, graduating from The Berklee College of Music, and then to have to struggle so. He hopes to be able to play chamber music at households -- I have told him I will talk to friends, when he is organized -- and has had a beautiful Italian girl here, accompanying him on the violin. Large-bosomed, quite striking, she reminds me of an opera diva. And, I cannot quite describe it, but these people that play classical music all day look much better than most. This Italian girl, in actuality, may not even be that beautiful. But, when she is playing the violin, she is radiant. (Then again my inclination towards her may result more from my having somehow ended up with this Italian name. I am still convinced that Mother had imbibed, or some other some such thing, when she so

Daniel Finneran


named me.) I have not asked Kwong-Po if these two are an item. The Chinese seem very discrete about such things. I don’t push it. But they would be an exotic couple. And I am convinced Kwong-Po would like to date a girl who is white. He also needs to finance a piano that can be moved from home to home. Again, I might mention him to some friends, if I find he is serious about these chamber concerts. I feel he is simply sorting things out at this point. Victoria is still among us, asks of you often, and, of course, is still breaking things on a regular basis. She is built like a bull, and seems near incapable of cleaning without breaking something. I am thinking seriously of beginning to take the price of said broken items from her paycheck. As our -- former; now I take it retired -- family attorney maybe I should consult with you. I don’t know if I have the heart for it. And, perplexing enough, she has asked for raise. Though, all she ever seems to be doing is raising other people’s children, and has recently acquired a dog. (A chow no less.) And Victoria seems, now, unable to get along with Virgil, the new gardener, who started in the Spring, and whom I believe you have not met. I thought they would get on well enough, both being Latin and all, but Victoria is from Guatemala, Virgil is from the Dominican Republic, and there seems to be some sort of ongoing dispute over bananas from fifty years ago or some such thing. It all sounds rather ridiculous. Virgil is a tall man, thin, and is of course attached to this sort Spanish-machismo sort of posture, but I believe Victoria could still take him in a fist-fight. Her back is nearly as wide as the stove. A remarkable thing to see. Truth be told I am glad you are leaving the law. Someone with a formidable mind must begin doing something about all these environmental messes, and I think you’re just

Dearest Evelyn


the girl for the job. And, with your change, maybe you can even convince your father to soon retire. All we Hannahs have trouble with our hearts -- even you must be vigilant, as you get older -- and feel, in light of the recent complications, he must soon recognize such. But even as a boy he liked to be a big shot, and his post as a professor -- though he would never admit such -- lets him be thus. I do not see why he cannot simply retire, become a consultant, and from that perch continue to tell these people how to build their missiles. But, just between me and you, I think he likes to be adored. Then again, don’t we all. Aah, there’s Kwong-Po now -- beginning to practice again. If Victoria drops a vase, it will be just like some cymbals. Kwong-Po practicing.......Yes, Bach, Brandenberg Concerto No. 5. Which always was a favorite of your Uncle George’s. I think he would get a big kick out of having his own musical maestro playing here in the house daily. But he is gone, God bless him. But he did, I think, prefer the lifestyle of 18th-Century land Barons most of all, and if I am not mistaken many had their own house musicians. I can hear Victoria in the kitchen. Last week, I thought it would be fun to try to reconcile this silly rift between Virgil and Victoria. It was a glorious day -- a Friday -and I knew Kwong-Po would be practicing in the afternoon. I had Victoria make a large lunch, and invited Virgil onto the back patio and told Victoria I thought it would be best if we all ate together, and had at least a little fun. I believe -- I am increasingly sure -- no one has any fun anymore. We ate, there on the patio -- BLT’s, tuna salad -- and I asked why Dominicans do not like the Guatemalans and then we were soon talking about this man David Ortiz and many of these other young men from the Dominican Republic that play baseball. There

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was discussion, then some impassioned lapses into Spanish -- though I gather each speaks in his own regional patois -- and then onto something, Dear God, about Columbus. Kwong-Po then started playing the waltz from Swan Lake, one of my favorite pieces. Tchaikovsky a tad underrated, in my opinion. Maybe because he’s still younger than the others. I suggested that the two of them dance. And Victoria, initially, seemed angry. I feel she thought I had somehow set for her up. She weighs, I am certain, well over 250 pounds, and so of course would not think of ‘setting her up.’ She is -- as I think I have mentioned -- nothing less than a bull. Virgil did not seem displeased -- though initially disconcerted -- by the idea. I believe Virgil is of the sort that does not believe any woman would want to pass up dancing with him. Though most days he is near covered with dirt. I chided Victoria, and, devious bull that she is, said she would dance with Virgil, if I would do same. I hesitated -- Virgil smiling triumphantly; feeling now that two women were incapable of escaping his grasp -- and agreed. I asked Kwong-Po to start Swan Lake again, and he was more than happy to accommodate. He of course aspires to be a concert pianist, so I assume is ever-searching for an audience. It was near 1:00, with a wonderful breeze, and the smell of the fresh cut forsythia everywhere. And Victoria and Virgil danced. For such a large woman she can move quite gracefully. I don’t understand why she keeps breaking things. And Virgil seems to have been something of an athlete -- I believe he used to play softball -- and moved quite well. His clothes still covered with loam, Victoria’s shirt still with remnants of dishwashing liquid, her worn work clothes, they looked to be dancing after a great battle. I raised my iced tea and toasted them. And all of us laughed.

Dearest Evelyn


Virgil then asked for my hand to dance, and from the reading room, and from the Piano, came ‘The Waltz of the Flowers,’ from The Nutcracker; Kwong-Po, of course, being a bit of a showman, and knowing how I still love The Nutcracker, no matter now many times they do it. If you are home this winter, we must not just go to the Handel and Haydn concerts, but also to The Nutcracker. They say it’s commercialized. But, what do they know? Certainly not as much as you and I. And we danced for a bit. I had not danced in years. He actually seemed to have some idea of what he was doing. And I looked down and saw that some of the loam from Virgil was getting on my dress, and he had washed his hands, and remnants of dirt were still there on his elbows, and forearms. And, somehow, some even got on my hands, and forearms. And we swirled for a bit. Kwong-Po picking up the tempo. And it’s funny, with my arthritis, I had not gardened in years, and had forgotten how I love the small of loam. The feel of it in my fingers. I nearly felt like a gardener again. The loam dries on you, like a sort of casqueing. I really do love the feel of it. But, alas, they are the help, and I could not let things get out of hand. So we just danced for a bit more. Though, rarely have I seen Victoria happier than when watching me dance with Virgil. She seemed quite thrilled with it. And then, of course, went to get another glass of iced tea, and spilled her glass all over the table. Later in the day and I needed to do some errands in Bishop, so I had to use The Pike. And you must be warned that traffic is now abominable. And this Big Dig thing, though they say it is over, is I believe, officially a disaster, and traffic is even worse. Your Uncle George always said the Irish -- Catholic, not Anglo -- would breed and breed until they took over. And sure enough, it seems they now run everything in Boston, and

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as I look around at all the traffic, there is no doubt there are too many of them. But, when on my errands -- I still do my own errands, and am convinced next license renewal, with my eyes, that will be the end of it -- and when again sitting in traffic, these people all around me, beeping, unhappy, I saw the van for WCRG, the, as I am sure you know, local classical radio-station. Based in Bishop. A terrible town, but the home of this wonderful station. And I said to myself, I don’t know why, I bet the people in that van are happy. And I fought my way up -- I’ve been driving near 60 years now -and sure enough, two girls, possibly in their 20s -- perhaps working there while going to college -- were up in the front seats and they were laughing. Everyone else, in the cars all around us, simply miserable. And I beeped and I waved. And they gave me a big wave back. Nice and polite. And very happy. I don’t know why, I could have kissed them. I drove a bit more and I realized -- these things happen as we get older -- that the dress I was wearing still had remnants of loam -- stripes really -- on it, and my arms still had some dirt on them. Like a sort dried coat of healthy mud, there on my arms. And I thought -- well, first I thought I must be a dam fool to be driving around still semi-clad in loam -- that many nice things come from music. That’s all. That nice things come from music. I hope we will be able to listen to music when you are here, and talk. There is much to talk about. We must, of course, talk about David. Everything seems to be going so terribly. And I just don’t understand. He used to seem so capable. And now -- well, I’ve never put much stock in these psychiatrists; I think most used to be charlatans, and now most are -or seem to be -- charlatans that give away drugs. But, I hope they will help. I think you have always been his favorite sister, and even though you are younger, I think you can be

Dearest Evelyn


of help. I think you and he were always affected the most by your mother dying. And that isn’t to say the others are not as sensitive or caring. I will let you go. Contact me when your plans are finalized. You can of course stay in the guest-room on the second floor, where you used to stay as a young girl. I hope Kevin can handle nights in the carriage house. A tad rustic, but we mustn’t let these men get soft. It can happen you know. I’ve seen it. Nearly time for lunch. I am thinking of driving out and doing some errands. Then I will return and see what Victoria has broken. And if Virgil has cut the right bushes. Kwong-Po is now back to Beethoven, and I am thinking of having Virgil start a new garden. Just a small one, near the bird bath. But I am off -- to lunch, and then out in the Buick. While out I somehow wish I would see those two girls in the WCRG van. So few people are happy now-a-days. It seems to be, more and more, just misery. I was thinking I would invite them back for lunch. I could possibly introduce them to Kwong-Po. But we live in a strange age, and I am sure such a thing is impossible. They would most probably think I was kidnapping them. And if they saw Victoria, they would be sure of it. Though, possibly, I will stop by the nursery and have one of the young men put some loam in the trunk, and then have Virgil retrieve it. I can not lift it anymore, but I still love the feel of it. The feeling of it. The good, black dirt, the aroma, the feeling of it in your hands. When you really garden, the way it almost won’t wash off. How your mind feels clear, when working with it. When going to get the loam, I always almost feel like a gardener once again. Like I am in the loop. But I can garden no more, and now must let Virgil do the work. I shall simply watch it all grow. And listen for the inevitable

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clanging of Victoria dropping some pots, and then some cursing in Spanish (O Deos Meos), and maybe Virgil mowing the lawn. My own little symphony. I do look forward to your arrival. If Aunt Julia does come by, while you are with us, we will of course, talk about how glad we are that you have ‘come on.’ And I suppose we shall have to figure out which is the port and which is the starboard of the house, and who sleeps on the mizzenmast. I think, in all, it shall be fun. Kwong-Po has stopped playing and I must go find out why. We mustn’t let these men become slackers. It can happen you know. I’ve seen it.

All my Love,

Aunt Francesca

-- END --

If interested, more stories by Daniel Finneran can be found at: http://scribd.com//nostromo10

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