… “She must consider strategies…” Back to the novel:


Arthur.  Last seen with Theodore.  Wounded.  Vida will have to reach Theodore’s wife, Claudia.  Claudia will know what must be done.  So much must be done, and there are so few options, so little that can be done.  Vida walks on.

Just a few months ago they were all sitting there, Claudia and Theodore with Art and Vida at Mrs. Williams’ house.  Mrs. Williams had cooked a big Sunday supper.  Vida’s two kids were running away from the table, and Vera, to whom Vida is both sister and mother, is in the hospital so she couldn’t be there, but she is remembered in the grace.

It used to be that Theodore and Claudia joined them most Sundays for supper and, before Theodore married Claudia, he, Vida, and Arthur would come, scarfing up as much food as Mrs. Williams put on the table.  Lately it was only Arthur, Vida, the kids, and sometimes Raymond, the leader, that Mrs. Williams invited.  She was proud to host him, but didn’t completely approve of the leader, wasn’t sure how she might vote if it were ever to come to a vote.  And this woman, Claudia, built like a stump and with such mouth, wearing those men’s pants here to dinner and not much caring what people thought of her language.  In front of the children.

In fact, Mrs. Williams doesn’t completely approve of what any of the children are doing, but she was content to have them here, to feed them, particularly Vida and the children, these grandchildren, Mary and Jimmy, who have finished their plates of fish and potatoes.

Most of the food, the walnut salad, potatoes and dasheen, all the vegetables Mrs. Williams grew herself.  What she is most proud of in her garden is the walnut tree that has been bearing nuts since Arthur was born.  It was given to them as a wedding gift.  There are walnuts in the salad and stuffing the meat for a feast like this.   Mrs. Williams only has to buy a bit of meat and some plantains to boil and some rice, or she can even pluck one of the yard fowl.  She does this despite the times that are changing and moving so fast it makes the old woman’s head shake, she says, shaking her head.

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