“Yeah, sure, sure. So what’s the answer? Did Mom say she would let me come up to the house?”
“Hardly Leo, she won’t hear of it right now. She’s still hurt you took off like that and a lot more hurt over all these years of silence and worry you put her through. Father you could talk to, but not at the house, he won’t cross Mom on that, so you’d have to catch him out in the fields someday.”
“Yeah, well, I’ll think about that I guess.”
They sat in silence for a few minutes after that, placing an order and then starting to eat their sandwiches after they came to the table. Eventually Olivia spoke again.
“Don’t worry about it though, she’ll let you come over eventually. She’s got that letter.”
Leo’s eyes narrowed a little. “What letter?”
“You know, that explains something else too. We just thought it was a misspelling on that envelope, it said Leo Humbert you know, like someone who didn’t know you too well wrote it. But I guess that was the name you were using, huh?”
Leo nodded silently and looked back at her. She tapped her fingers agains the table a few times and then continued.
“Anyway, it came in the mail a while back. It was in bad shape when it arrived actually, looked like it had been awhile in the mail before it managed to reach us. She’s been waiting to give it to you and she won’t fail at that. Besides, your stuff is still there too.”
“My stuff? You can’t mean all that rubbish I left behind in the house when I moved out?”
“That’s exactly what I mean brother. All your useless stuff that you just left there for us to clean up and be a reminder of you leaving, that you weren’t around anymore. Rather inconsiderate I always thought. I told father to get rid of it straight away but Mom wouldn’t have it. So it’s all there in some trunk we had, packed away for your inconsiderate self to pick up someday.”
“Harsh words Ollie, I never asked anyone to keep it.”
“You should have taken it or gotten rid of it yourself, not expected us to.”
“Fine then. Who’s the letter from? Do you know?”
“Oh yes, thats another thing I spend my time on, keeping track of your trash and your letters.”
Leo thought it best to stop talking then as his sister was winding herself up into another lecture mode, sure to continue on with her discussion of his name change, inconsiderate behavior and other faults. As they both finished eating Olivia blew out a deep breath.
“Some Lester person, I can’t remember if that’s his first or last name.”
“The letter silly, it’s from someone named Lester.”
Leo immediately knew it had to be from Robert, his old partner in crime from the Kilauea Mercantile Company scam in Hawaii. Although he could not recall ever doing so, he must have told him at some point that he was from New Munich, and apparently Robert had used that information to send him a letter. Maybe it was in response to the one he wrote from McNeil, or maybe it had been written for some other reason. Either way, he knew that he had to get it from his mother as he felt it was likely to include information that he did not want his mother or the police to read.
“She didn’t open it, did she?”
“Of course not Leo, opening other people’s mail is not something us Hombert’s do.” She said that louder than necessary and then walked out of the diner, leaving Leo with the bill and a slightly red face.
It took another twelve days but then Leo’s mother agreed to allow him into the house and he went there, dressed in his best suit and carrying flowers. He had never really felt bad about the way he left, and had also not thought much about his family since then, but hearing his mother was hurt by it did give him some remorse and he hoped to make things right. She was aloof when he first entered, remaining in her seat as he handed her the flowers and only nodding in reply to his, “It’s so good to see you Mom.” That did not last long though, and after a very profuse apology from Leo and an awkward attempt by him at a hug, she finally stood up, grabbed him and pulled her long absent son in for a heart-felt embrace. Olivia had not mentioned the name change to their mother, and she did not bring up the supposed misspelling of his last name as she handed him the piece of mail she pulled from a drawer in her desk.
…to be continued