(And also introducing a new character – well, new to Richard, anyway. It turns out that a lot of people have history with this new character!)

En Residence

“Roman, my old and rare,” Richard ventured on a morning, a week past the triumph of the Cattleman grand reopening, and the equally grand Wyler wedding. “Last night, as I was wending my weary way homewards, I noticed that some of your splendid chaps were unloading a quantity of … I presume it all was building materials? Yes, in front of that charming small villa, just around the corner from the old fire station house. Vulgar curiosity commands me – are renovations underway? Is this in the service of a new owner, who might yet become a habitué of this establishment? Or is it being fitted out as a B & B? Either way – it’s a winner for me.”
It was early morning at the Café; Roman Gonzalez, the working owner and supervisor of a not insubstantial and significant local construction company, was tucking into his customary full-English – customary on those days when he had a full day of heavy labor on his schedule. Now, he looked up from his heaping plate of sausage, bacon, fried egg, tomato and mushroom, baked borracho beans, and toast, and replied,
“Not much gets past you, Ricardo – yeah, that’s the old Everett house. Owner decided to come back to Luna for family reasons. It’s been a rental for about twenty years – and ya know how renters can beat up a place. Whole refit of the bathrooms and kitchen, repaint inside and out, and re-finish the floors. New windows, too. Nice bit of change – my guys can do it in their sleep.”
“Everett…” Richard ran a brief mental scan of the names of Lunaites in his mental Rolodex and came up dry. “The name is familiar, but I can’t quite place it.”
Roman grinned – only later did Richard note the lack of mirth. “Local notables, Ricardo. Miss Alice – Doc Wyler’s wife. She was an Everett. So was Old Charley Mills, on his mothers’ side. This Everett is Myrna Vaughn, by her married name.”
“Vaughn?” Richard ventured. “Any relation to Chief …”
“His mother,” Roman replied, and forked in another mouthful of beans, assisted with a side of fried toast. “And she’s a real pistol.”
“Oh?” Richard hinted in a manner intended to invite further confidence. Roman did not rise to the bait, instead folded the last slice of toast around the lone rasher of bacon and wolfing it in two bites.
“Gotta run, Ricardo,” Roman added, around that last mouthful, reaching for his Thermos. “Fill ‘er up, long day ahead.”
“This Mrs. Senior Vaughn – I take it you mean she is…”
“What I said – a real pistol. Ask around, you’ll get the idea.” Roman departed, leaving Richard frustrated and with his curiosity roused. He sought further enlightenment from Araceli – even though the Café was in the middle of the breakfast rush.
“I hear that Mrs. Myrna Vaughn – she who brought forth our illustrious chief of police into the world – is returning to Luna City after a long hiatus,” Richard ventured, hoping that his chief waitress and manager would prove to be a font of information, or at least, amusing gossip. “Is this in aid of Joe and Jess’s pending new sprout on the familial tree…”
“Yeah – that and Joe’s dad passed away last month … you do remember about that? The obituary was on the second page of the Beacon, and the flag in front of Town Hall was at half-staff for a week. And – you did notice that Jess and Joe went to San Antonio for the funeral?”
“Come to think on it, so I did,” Richard admitted. With the press of work in the Café kitchen, all having to do with anything outside of that often fled from his concern and memory within hours of his having encountered them. “And so now the widowed Mrs. Vaughn is moving back to town – Roman told me that his crew is renovating that charming little Spanish colonial cottage around the corner from Town Square. He would only say that she is … somewhat of a character.”
Araceli barked a short laugh. “Yeah, Joe’s Mom is a law unto herself. Look, I only knew her at a remove. The Vaughns lived here when Joe was a kid in school – so I can’t say I knew her all that well. But she coached the girls’ field hockey team back then – even did a bit, coaching other sports, as a volunteer concerned parent, you understand. She and Miss Letty went head-to-head over leadership of the Historical Society about the time that I started high school; that’s when she and Joe’s dad …” and Araceli hastily crossed herself… “Decided to move to Victoria, and then to Austin when the Legislature was in session. Oh, she told everyone it was because of Mr. Vaughn being elected to the Lege … but everyone really knew that it was because Miss Letty had slapped her down, good and hard, when she tried to throw her weight around with the Historical Society. Miss Letty does not put up with people trying to do dirt to Luna City. And Doc Wyler backed her up, when it came to VPI, when they established Mills Farm…”
“Something to do with … the Cattleman Hotel, wasn’t it?” Richard ventured, and Araceli nodded. The bell over the main door chimed sweetly again, and Araceli shot off in obedience to hospitality’s command.
Upon her return, Araceli enlightened him briefly. “Really, Chef – I don’t know all of the gory details. I was just in high school at the time and Joe was a senior. It made all the difference in the world. We might as well have been on different planets. You might want to talk to Miss Letty about that. She was there and she would know.”
“Indeed,” Richard agreed. “I suspect that what the old dear doesn’t know about Luna City, past and present, would fit into a thimble.”

1 Comment

  1. She sounds interesting! Not to say ominous…

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