Episode 13 City Cousins –
At the sight of the car, Phyllis erupted in tears once again and stepped behind her mother.
They all looked in that direction of the car, and it was not until the driver got out and started toward them that Hank recognized, Linda’s brother Victor, from New Jersey.. His family followed him out; big, bigger, and biggest. Biggest, being his wife, Ruth, who in years past had been referred to, somewhat unkindly, as “aunt Brunhilde”. (A practice that stopped once Hank heard it used) (Art would come to understand in later years this as reference to a character in an opera by Wagner.) They had two boys, Victor Jr., A.K.A. Vicky,. and Ronny; they were both over weight and argued continually.
Linda wanted to run and give her brother a welcome hug but felt she could not move away from Phyllis. She greeted everyone quickly explaining that Phyllis was not ready to receive company, and ushered her toward the house. Linda was sort of pushing Phyllis along, hurrying her up the steps. Once inside they made for the bathtub. Phyllis was never so ready for a bath in her life.
Outside the city cousins were over-reacting to the skunk smell. “What is that yucky smell?” asked Ronny. Victor Jr. AKA Vicky. could not resist, “Just your feet.” He said holding that part of his nose protruding from under his coke-bottle-lenses. Ronny responded in kind, “More likely your breath,” as reached up to give his brother a playful hit on the back of the head.
Their dad silenced them with “Boys!” and an up raised hand. Turning to Hank he said apologetically, I’ve been in the car with them for 8 hours and I’m ready to do them in.“ He continued, ”It does smell like you’ve had a little skunk problem?“ Hank, responded ”Yes Phyllis got sprayed.“ He continued to sketch the entire sequence of events. Victor laughed and laughed, not at Phyllis, but at the whole picture, enjoying this slice of rural life; a life he missed so very much.
Hank was glad to see Victor laugh, though he did not think it all that funny himself and only told the story because he was a little uncomfortable making conversation without Linda there to help him.
Linda returned and gave hugs all around,
Art was amazed at how easy and genuinely his mother shared affection with the family, even the city cousins.
There was the rapid exchange of information, updating on all manner of family matters. Then Victor ordered his family back into the car. ”We better get out to the camp and get settled in.“ As they all got in one by one, Art actually felt sorry for the car as its suspension compressed under the weight of luggage and passengers. Thinking they will never make it down the camp road with that load.
Linda called out to them, ”Please come back for supper, about five, we have some news to tell you.“ ”OK, see you about five.“ Victor replied gunning the car out of the drive.