W.T. lay in the casket, and a photograph of W.T. lay on the casket, and in the photograph W.T. was riding on the motorcycle.
I told everyone he was happy, because he was my grandfather, and that’s what I wanted to believe, but my aunt Wilma ruined my idea of happy. “Don’t he look just like you?” she said. “I took that picture. You always did favor him. Sit down and I’ll tell you about the day after I took that picture. The secret story.”
It was Puerto Rico days, she said. He dragged them all down there for a year after he drilled the wells for Disney World so he could drill the wells for the new city center in San Juan. “A woman come to the door with a boy baby in her arms,” she said. “She told my momma the boy baby was W.T.’s.” “What did Grandma do?” “She pushed her down the trailer steps. That woman put her arms around the boy baby and protected it. She must have broke a bone on every step. When she got to the bottom step, your grandma kicked her in the ribs until she could get up and run away. So you probably have a Puerto Rican uncle you’ll never meet.”
My aunt Teresa tried to keep the peace by talking for a while about how men are and how women are, and then her third daughter, Melissa, the one who’s a lesbian not that I mind, said there’s a mechanism, that’s the word she used, there’s a way. “You get on the Internet and go to 23andme.com, and they send you a cotton swab for your cheek, and then they tell you your DNA, and if you want they tell you who else has the same DNA.”
In the casket, if you believe in ghosts, W.T. was loving all this talk about his DNA, and he was remembering the high time he had in Puerto Rico the day after my aunt Wilma took the picture of him on the motorcycle, watching the women fight through the side window.
“OK,” my aunt Babette said, “but what if it wasn’t like that? What if that lady in Puerto Rico was lying?”
“She wasn’t lying,” my aunt Wilma said.
“Look at him, all smug in that makeup,” my aunt Teresa said.
“W.T. would’ve hated that makeup,” my aunt Babette said.
“Why?” my aunt Wilma said. “He lived for faces all dolled up like that. He’s not even dolled up enough yet.”
She reached into her purse and pulled out a tube of red lipstick.
“Oh, no,” my aunt Babette said.
But my aunt Wilma was already rubbing the red into his lips. She put a little on his cheeks and rubbed it in so he was rouged even more than the embalmer had rouged him. The more red she rubbed into him, the more she started shaking, and there weren’t any tears or anything. That shaking was her way of crying I guess.
I guess you think now there will be a struggle or somebody will slap somebody or my grandma will show up and make a scene, but nothing like that happened. They just left the lipstick on W.T.’s lips and cheeks, and the preacher acted like he didn’t notice.
Sometimes when I’m alone I grab my girlfriend’s lipstick and rub it all over my lips and cheeks and try to see if I can see W.T. in the mirror.