Two pounds of ground beef and one big bowl. Dice three peppers. I usually go for one yellow, one red, and one orange. Take a sleeve of saltines, throw them in a cookie sheet and crush them to dust with a kitchen mallet. Don’t be a savage and pound on them. Grip the head and push, crushing all the crackers until they are crumbs. You need three eggs. Gotta have BBQ sauce. If you think you have put in too much, then give it one more good squeeze. Now to get your hands dirty. Grip and mash all of that with your bare hands. Don’t be a savage and forget to wash them before. When the contents are mash, then place it all in a hot electric skillet, mash it in real good until it is flat with a bit of a lip on the sides. More BBQ sauce across the top. Really cover it, don’t go halfway now. Cover and cook for about 35 minutes.
When everyone was getting their portions, I told them all to leave their plates on the stove and come to the table. Everyone got in their spots and I nodded to Bekah. She pulled out the postcards.
“Last time I sent something to Rose, she sent it back Return to Sender. This is a postcard. It has four words on it that she will read before she has a chance to see who it is from. She can’t avoid this. This will get through. The second postcard is to Char.”
“Stealing,” Tobin said with a giggle.
He is a few weeks short of twelve now. Rayph fourteen, about to be fifteen.
“Yeah, she has been stealing from Char,” Rayph said.
“Yeah I know. I’m just saying, it’s funny.”
“These are being sent out tomorrow,” I said. “They cannot be avoided.
Rayph flipped Rose’s over, laughing. “It says ‘Smile’ real big on the back.”
“We got them in a pack. Kinda like a book that you can tear off,” Bekah said. “There were two Smiles but I messed up the second.”
“I think the six smiley-face emojis are better for Char’s anyway,” I said. “Get your plates. We need to talk.”
Everyone is sitting now and I smile. “Okay. So I have been writing The Progenitor, you know this.” Since I had begun this section of the book, I had been so much easier to live with. Less breaking into tears. Less hiding in my room and wasting away in my office at night.
“Yeah,” Rayph said.
“Well, I couldn’t finish the last four chapters until I got the results back from Ancestry dot com,” I said. “And we couldn’t order Slade’s vest until the big check came in. Well after I wrote last night, the results came in, and this afternoon, the check got here. We are ordering Slade’s vest tonight.”
“He is real now?” Tobin said, his eyes lighting up.
“He’s going to stay?” Rayph said.
“Seems like.” I looked up at Bekah smiling.
“Yes!” Whispers from both boys.
“We got the check and we ran around town and found the cards, and now I am ready to write the rest of the book. I didn’t even have to take a day off. Do you guys see how amazing and meant to be that is?”
Bekah nodded. The boys did, too.
“Okay, well the results confirmed what 23 and Me said. There is zero chance that Char is my father. There is also no sign of Bramble’s last name. There are a lot of names that can’t be placed, but no sign of Bramble’s last name. This doesn’t bother me, though. With Thistle being famous for shooting that guy, I didn’t expect anyone would want to be on that list. However, Ancestry did confirm that I have no Native American blood in me. Char does.
“Now, I was trained as a historian. To write a history paper you need a few things. You need at least two eye witnesses, and it helps if you have visual confirmation. Two people who were at the event, and you need to visit where it took place. Well, I can as a historian confirm by two eye witnesses who told me in my past that Char’s mother was Native American. Also, I have visual confirmation because I saw her skin and her hair and I knew her. Now, even if she lied about being Native American, there is no blood in my body that can answer for her dark skin and hair. So I am not Char’s son.”
They both looked at me. The meatloaf was too hot still for me or Rayph, but Bekah and Tobin were eating already.
“I need to ask you two how you feel about this news,” I said.
Tobin made a gesture like he was holding an object with two hands and he threw it to the side.
“What does that mean?” I asked.
“We don’t have to have them anymore,” he said.
“We can get rid of that Char family now,” Rayph said.
“Relief,” Tobin said. “That never sounded right. We are better than that.”
“We now have a better name to build our family on. A better man to tie to me.”
“It’s over,” Rayph said.
“We will be celebrating when I finish the book.”
“When will that be?” Rayph asked.
I looked up at Bekah. “Tomorrow night.”