Although Leo had a hot plate, crock pot, and microwave in his basement apartment, more often than not he ate dinner upstairs with Allison. She was becoming an excellent cook in her own right, and Leo loved whipping up large, substantial, and highly spiced meals. Breakfast-for-dinner was a specialty of his, typically resulting in large omelets stuffed with vegetables, accompanied by onions and potatoes. He enjoyed these meals very much, enjoyed getting to know Allison better, and seeing her become the person she was growing into.
They had plans to meet for dinner that night, but those plans were interrupted.
After the conversation with Franny had been interrupted by the appearance of that man, David, at Marilyn’s house, Leo had sought out Penelope. She’d been Marilyn’s friend, and knew more about her history than anyone else. He’d found Penelope at her home, and after a few pleasantries, he’d asked her the question he’d come to ask.
“Did Marilyn have any kids?” Leo asked. Penelope produced her braying laugh. “Hell no, Leo. Whatever gave you that idea?”
“I met someone today,” Leo said. “I thought he might be, um, related to Marilyn.”
“Well, she did have a sister, I think, who died fairly young. She’d had a couple of kids.”
Maybe the man at Marilyn’s house, David, was a nephew. That would make sense. Marilyn would always be generous and welcoming of her family, even after her death.
“Nieces,” Penelope continued. “I remember Marilyn telling me how much fun it was to buy them little frilly things when they were small, and how guilty she felt about it.” Penelope laughed again. “That was our Marilyn. Scrutinizing everything, even gift-giving, for gender bias implications. I told her, Mare, lighten up! Every woman loves to buy frilly little girl things. It’s just in our DNA. But that made it worse, of course. As the nieces grew up, Marilyn gave them stuff like science kits and camping gear. They adored her, but I’m sure they thought she was a bit potty.”
“No nephews?” Leo asked.
“Don’t think so. Who was this person you met? Sounds like he put the wind up you, somehow.”
He certainly did, Leo thought. “I’m not sure,” he said. “But you’re right. He kind of gave me the willies. I’m sure he’s fine, though. Thanks, Pen. Is there anything I can do for you, before I go?”
That question led to another hour in Penelope’s house, working to unclog a drain. This is exactly what Allison was talking about, Leo muttered, laying on his back under a sink. If I’d done what I needed to do second, first, I’d be with Franny now.