I don’t know how long he’s been supposedly dead. Nobody will tell me. They don’t like me doing research either, but he’s all I ever overheard about. He’s the most exciting relative I never met. I’ll tell you this: if there’s an angle to dying, Uncle Frank’s working it. I know Aunt Florence thinks he’s coming back. Hell, Dad saw him embalmed, and even he’s not sure. That’s how it is with Uncle Frank. You can’t put it past him. Dad says he could make you pay, and not get what you paid for, and beg to pay again. He says the third time, Uncle Frank would lend you money at murderous terms so you could pay again, and still you wouldn’t get what you paid for. The letters started coming last summer. At first, I thought they were from my cousin Frankie, Florence’s kid. So did Mom; she thinks I have a new pen-pal. My job is to keep her thinking that, and send Uncle Frank his checks on time. Pigeons are greedy, he writes. They don’t believe, but green-tinted glasses make them believe. He says Dad doesn’t check his bank statements because he wants to believe he has money. He says the bank doesn’t notice I’m using Dad’s checks because they’re the system. Banking’s just a con game, right? I mean, where does your money really go? The way I figure, Dad got what he had coming. He must have known something was fishy before he went in on the scheme. He wasn’t man enough to face that everything is a cheat. That sounds harsh. Maybe he just wanted more. Maybe he believed Uncle Frank really was in trouble. Anyway, we’ll start breaking even by Christmas. Then I can bring back Santa Claus for the whole family.

Copyright © May 30, 2007 David Hodges