The Nephew

The Nephew

The Nephew

The Nephew


All the flags were out in front of the houses and stores in Rainbow Center on Memorial Day, as Boyd Mason drove his Buick back from a real-estate trip to Kentucky, and parked on the east corner of Peninsula Drive and Crest Ridge Road, at the side of his sister Alma's house, where he had lived since his wife's death twenty years before.

Slamming his car door shut, he was about to go up the walk to the front porch when he thought he heard a familiar voice reach through his deafness: "Welcome home, Boyd. How you do tramp around the nation at your age!" and turning around he caught sight of Mrs. Barrington, whose two-acre estate directly faced his sister's eight-room house. Boyd put down his canvas bag, in readiness to exchange the time of day with the "old monarch," as everyone called Mrs. Barrington, but when he looked up again he saw his well-wisher already disappearing with a final nod into the leafy regions of her backyard, where English hawthorn, horse-chestnut, and azaleas were all in splendid and fragrant bloom, while from the back of her twenty-five- room house Japanese wistaria hung like pear drops from chandeliers.

Turning back again and going up the path to his door, he glanced up gravely at the upper balcony of the house where the huge flag he invariably put up by himself was now flying. He supposed his sister Alma had hired one of the boys from the college to put it up for her, or perhaps she had managed to do it alone. Boyd had a feeling of disappointment, almost guilt, because he had not raised the flag on Memorial Day himself.

Coming inside and setting down his canvas bag again, he greeted his sister drily. One would not have known from her equally undemonstrative salutation that Boyd had been gone, out of the state, for a week.

"Any news?" he shouted in his deaf man's voice.

"A letter from the nephew," Alma cried, and she held the red-white-and-blue envelope out to him.

"A letter from Cliff," Boyd remarked, engrossed in the envelope, his brown eyes aglow. He looked so youthful at that moment, and he was 78.

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