We spent that Saturday at the Mount Lambert flea market, which is something that I never thought I’d write. Mount Lambert is a small, picturesque town on the Delaware River (across from the even smaller and more picturesque town of Hopeville, Pennsylvania), and is in the southwest corner of the 13th district. So I walked around the market, handing out brochures and bumper stickers for Justin Fairchild for Congress, and Emma had a table where she was trying to sell some of the uglier antiques out of our Victorian sitting room. She’d made five hundred dollars selling a baroque chest of drawers, and was in an ebullient mood.
"My God, we might actually get rid of more of this stuff," she said. "There’s hope yet."
"You wanted that house," I said.
"I know, but I didn’t want the furniture."
"Or the termites," I added. "Or the Hanover County Historical Society."
"Same difference," she said. "Wait a second. My phone’s ringing. Maybe someone’s coming back to buy the rest of this stuff."
My phone rang at the same moment, so I picked it up. "Hey, son," my father said.
"What’s up, Dad?"
"I hate to tell you this, but you need to drop whatever you’re doing and come up here. Your mother has had an accident."
"Oh, my God," I said. "What happened?"
"Let’s just say she had a fall. I don’t think it’s all that serious, but she’s in a lot of pain and would like to see you."
"I’ll be there as soon as I can," I said.
"The Gulfstream is headed your way," he said. "It’ll pick you and Emma up at the Hanover airport, and I’ll have the limo pick you up at New Haven and take you out to the hospital. See you in a bit."
"Okay," I said, and hung up the phone. I looked over at Emma, who was ending her conversation. "We have to go," I said.
"We have to go," she said, almost at the same time. "Who were you talking to?"
"My dad."
"Did he tell you?" Emma asked.
"About my mom? Yeah."
"What about your mom?"
"She fell and hurt herself. We need to go to New Haven. My dad is sending the Gulfstream; it’ll pick us up at the airport in about an hour."
"Oh, my God," Emma said. "I had no idea. I’ll start getting this stuff packed up, and we’ll stop by the house and pack a bag real quick."
"Who were you talking to?" I asked.
"If we’re leaving," Emma said, "it’s not important. Come on."
*
Once we were safely in the air, Emma explained what was going on.
"That was Polly who called. She wanted to make sure that you didn’t do anything embarrassing when you heard the news."
"What news?" I asked.
"About Justice Scalia."
"What about Justice Scalia? Oh, wait, don’t tell me. He went to an orphanage to steal some candy."
"Justin, listen for a second."
"He went to a nursing home and took away people’s walkers so they couldn’t chase after him when he stole their Social Security checks."
"This is why Polly called. She didn’t want you to freak out about this in public."
"Freak out about what?"
"He died, Justin. Justice Scalia died."
"Oh, really? What was the cause of death? I’m guessing three-hooker cocaine orgy."
"Justin! Behave yourself."
"Unless it was a gay cocaine orgy. Because that would be even better."
"Justin! This is serious. Justice Scalia is really dead. He died in his sleep this morning, at a ranch out in West Texas."
"Like, the Mustang Ranch? But that’s in Nevada."
Emma held her head in her hands. "Give me strength," she said. "Justin Trudeau-Fairchild. You listen to me. It is incredibly rude and insensitive to make stupid jokes after someone dies."
"So, wait, are you really being serious here? Did Scalia really die?"
"Yes. That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you."
"But that’s wonderful news! Obama gets to replace Scalia. That’s great! It gives us five votes on the Supreme Court. We can have real progressivism again."
"I understand that, Justin. But you can’t just go around dancing on the man’s grave before he’s buried."
"What about after?" I said.
"I think," Emma said, "that we need to focus on your mom right now."
"Well, of course," I said.
"What do you think happened?" she asked.
*
"What do you think happened?" my dad said.
"I’m almost afraid to ask," Emma said.
"She was up in the bedroom, working on her book or something, and she must have read that Justice Scalia died."
"Oh, goodness," I said. "She must have flipped."
"Almost literally," Dad said. "She got on top of the bed and started jumping. All I heard was the thumping, and she was singing. Then there was one big thump, when she fell off and hit her shoulder on the nightstand."
"What was she singing?" I asked, although I thought I knew.
"Ding, dong, the witch is dead," Dad quoted.
"Which old witch? The wicked witch," I continued.
"Don’t you start," Emma said.
"It’s a good thing she clipped the nightstand," Dad said. "She could have landed on her head, and we’d have another funeral to deal with. As it is, she’s got a broken collarbone, a couple of busted ribs, and her whole right side is bruised up. She was in a lot of pain, so they knocked her out with sedatives. She should be awake in an hour or so, and hopefully she’ll feel like eating her dinner."
"The hospital knows to give her a gluten-free vegetarian option, right?" I asked.
"This is New Haven; I assume they just take that for granted these days."
*
The limo dropped us all off at the hospital, and we joined my two younger brothers in her room. Mom was just waking up.
"I was having the most incredible dream," she said. "You were there. And you. And you. And you. I don’t know who the young lady in the back is, though."
"I’m Emma. Justin and I are engaged, and our baby is due this summer."
"That’s lovely, dear. So I was dreaming, and I dreamed that the United States of America was going to elect a Trotskyite as President, and that I was a part of the campaign, and that the wicked Justice Scalia was dead at last. It was a lovely dream. And the best part is that it’s all coming true."
I looked over at the rest of my family. My brothers, of course, hear this sort of thing all the time, they were looking anxious but also a little bored. My uber-capitalist father was rolling his eyes. Emma was looking uncomfortable.
"She’s always like this," I whispered to Emma. "Don’t take it personally."
"Speak up, there, Justin. Or should I say Congressman Trudeau-Fairchild?"
"Not yet, Mother."
"I’m hoping to be up and around for your swearing-in. You won’t disappoint me, will you?"
"No, Mother."
"That’s good. I am really very tired and would like to rest a little longer, if all of you don’t mind."
"Of course, Mother," I said, and we all trouped into the hall.
*
"She’s always like that?" Emma asked.
"She is," Dad said. "It’s really a good sign. If she wasn’t politically involved from her hospital bed, I’d be much more worried."
"You just have to keep her from overdoing it," my brother Keith said. "She’ll pull out all the stops, if you let her. Honestly, she needs the rest more than anything else."
"Oh, and I don’t have to tell any of you this, but if anyone asks, she just had an ordinary fall," Dad said.
"There’s no need for anyone else to know exactly what happened."
"Understood," I said.
*
It was too weird to go back into my old room, so we found a guest room up on the third floor of the house and settled in. Emma wanted to get a hotel room, but once she got a good look at what even the disused guest rooms of the house are like, she agreed that we wouldn’t get a better hotel room in New Haven.
"That could have gone better, in terms of meeting your mother," she said.
"You can’t really blame her," I said. "She’s on a lot of drugs right now. She probably doesn’t even remember seeing you."
"I know. I just hope that…"
"Hope that what?" I said.
"I hope that neither of us ever puts politics on a high level over family like that."
"She’s worked hard for the Sanders campaign, and she got excited over the Scalia thing. It’s all important to her. It’s how she’s wired."
"Is that how you’re wired?" Emma asked.
"A little," I admitted. "But some things are more important. Like you, and me, and the baby. And our families."
"We have to win this campaign," Emma said. "We have to go the distance. But I hope we don’t lose ourselves in it."
We hugged for a long moment. "Me, too," I said.
*****
See next week’s episode: The Sucker Punch

Check out the previous installments:
Last year:
Week Forty-Nine:The True North
Week Fifty:The Garden State
This year:
Week Four:The Brain Trust
Week Six:The Snow Day

Week Seven: The Coin Flip

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