Gypsy funeral draws dozens of mourners
Police chief warns residents to keep their doors locked
John Winchester, aged 52, died this week of complications from a collision with a semi-truck. He is survived by his two sons, Dean and Sam, who were in the car at the time of the wreck but were released from the hospital to attend the funeral.
The Winchester clan owns several small businesses in Lawrence, including Gary’s Auto Repair, the Better Than New used car lot, and El Divino fortune-telling.
Gypsies from around the country have flooded into the town for tomorrow’s funeral. Some are being housed with relatives, but others have set up a tent city in the old Walsh field out in Haleyville. Police Chief Kennedy has reassured residents that no laws have been broken, but that it would be sensible to keep doors locked and family pets safe inside until the strangers have left town.
John Winchester will be buried at 9am Saturday in the Oak Hill Cemetery, in a plot beside his late wife, Mary. The family insists that the funeral will be a private affair, but that anyone wishing to pay their respects may attend a memorial dinner to be held 2pm at Mala Winchester’s home, 1142 West 8th Street.
Dean went back for a third helping of Mala’s stew. It tasted of beef and garlic, of safety and home. Everyone else had finished eating and moved out of the dining room. The women were washing up in the kitchen. The men were watching TV. Sam had taken the little ones outside to play.
Mala came in and sat down beside him with a little huff of pain. Her joints must’ve been acting up, but she looked better now than she had a week ago in the hospital, eyes bruised with lack of sleep as she prayed and burned candles for him, watching his pacing spirit instead of his body lying still on the hospital bed.
She looked him over carefully and sighed. “Too old,” she said. “You should be married.”
Dean shrugged. It was an old argument. “I know. But it’s not safe. The beng, Yellow-Eyes, it’s still out there. It killed Day, it killed Sam’s girl up at Kansas State – I won’t put another woman in danger that way.”
“And the Colt is gone,” Mala said, her lips twisting sourly. Dean wasn’t sure if that was about the Colt, or just the mention of the raklì Sam had shacked up with.
“Yeah. It disappeared. At the hospital,” Dean agreed wearily. He woke up back in his body, Dad died of a mysterious heart attack, and the Colt disappeared. Mala knew what Dad’d done. They all did. But no one had said a word about it.
“Have you, uh, seen anything that might help us find Yellow-Eyes? Some other way to kill it?” Dean asked her.
“Nothing. It’s all wound up with your phral now, and Sam’s always been hard to see. All I get is flashes, and those flashes, they’re very bad.” She reached out, grabbed his hand, and squeezed it hard. “You watch out for Sam, you hear me?” she said urgently.
Dean gave her hand a gentle squeeze back. “Always have, always will, Mamì. You’re … you’re really scared for him, huh?”
She stared down at their entwined hands and whispered. “For him. About him. Of him.”
Dean pulled his hand away. Sam wasn’t … he just wasn’t. “Well, Sam’s got this idea, thinks we can maybe track Yellow-Eyes using old newspapers. Look for reports of mothers with young children who died in fires, you know? Like that kid who could move stuff with his mind we found last year.”
She snorted, seemed to relax. “That Sam, always reading and writing. No wonder he’s so dili. He should have pulled Sam out of that gadje school when the boy hit puberty, same as you.”
Dean was surprised that Mala would skirt the taboo like that. Talking about the dead invited their muló back for a haunting. But he wasn’t gonna let his Dad go undefended. “Well, he had his reasons. And it’d be good, having a big-name dukàto in the family, right? Law wouldn’t dare mess with us then. And Sam knows just how to talk to gadje, can get us in and out of places like you wouldn’t believe.”
Sam had managed to get the hospital to agree to a payment plan for the bills; couple hundred a month, not too bad, and just on the two of them, so the family credit and businesses weren’t at risk.
Mala nodded. “Always had a sweet tongue, that one. You two going to stay in town for a while, or back to the drom?”
“We’ll hit the road as soon as me and Gary finish fixing up the Impala. Another two, three days probably.”
Mala stood up, collecting Dean’s bowl, spoon, and glass. “Right then. You’ll keep wudjo, yes?”
Dean nodded, wide-eyed and innocent.
She rearranged the dishes into one hand and smacked the back of his head with the other. “None of that, I know you,” Mala said. “Motel sheets, diner food … gadje don’t care if they’re living in filth, but you were raised better.”
“Yes, Mamì, we’ll try,” Dean said meekly, trying not to think about the girls, in case she pulled the thought right out of his head.
Mala paused at the door to the kitchen and turned back. “Tell Sam to give me a call, if he wants to talk,” she said softly, and then left the room.
Dean walked outside and found Sam pushing Dika on the swing. Sam could’ve had a little girl Dika’s age by now. Would’ve, if it wasn’t for the beng. Dean stood for a minute, watching. The rest of the kids swirled around the yard in some kind of free-form game of tag with Sam as home base. “Time for your baro much to get going,” Dean eventually announced.
Four year-old Stefan immediately launched himself at Sam’s leg and grabbed hold.
Sam laughed, big and loud, the first time Dean had heard him really laugh since the hospital. “Nice try, Stefan, but Gary’s poor wife already has ten of us sleeping on her floor. You stick here with your mom and dad. I’ll be back in the morning, okay?”
Sam pried Stefan off his leg and cured everyone’s tears with fuzzy gummy bears from his shirt pocket. With a final warning for the kids to stay in the yard, they started walking back to Gary’s.
The funeral had helped, everything vòrta Romanì fòrma, surrounded on all sides by his people. Wailing and crying, screaming out their grief the way you couldn’t with gadje around. Afterwards Dean had floated through the funeral feast, feeling a little bit better, a taste of peace and home. But Dean still missed his Dad with a physical ache. Last year, even when Dad dropped out of touch in his hunt for Yellow-Eyes, Dean had known he was out there, somewhere. Now he was gone, a wound where the family’s heart should be. So as good as it was to be back in Lawrence, Dean felt raw and out of balance in a way only drom could cure.
“Mala says you should call her, if you want to,” Dean mentioned.
“You, uh, you didn’t tell her, did you?” Sam asked.
“About your visions? Nah.” Dean had pushed Sam to talk to Mala about his visions from the beginning. But after that line today, about her being scared of Sam? Maybe Sam had been right all along. “But, seriously, man, why am I busting my hump hustling gadje at pool when you could just put on a long skirt, get ‘em to cross your palm with silver for a reading, huh?”
“Jerk,” Sam said, a little laugh catching in his voice.
Dean grinned and led Sam around the back of Gary’s to the auto shop. The Impala sat there gleaming in the sunlight, already wearing three of her four coats of paint. Gary had done a great job rebuilding his baby.
It’d been such a relief, when Sam told him Gary had been looking after her while they were in the hospital. Dean couldn’t stand the thought of police, strangers, touching her while she was hurting. ’67 Impala parts weren’t easy to come by, but Gary had put out word to the family. Everyone who came to visit Dean in the hospital had brought whatever they could find at their local scrap yards. They did it because Sam and Mala and Dad swore he’d wake up, no matter what the doctors said. They did it despite the fact that, if Dad hadn’t done whatever he did, it would’ve been his baby they were towing out to the field tomorrow to be smashed and burned with the rest of his possessions instead of Dad’s truck, to show his muló there was no place for it here.
Dean shivered and zipped up his jacket. A little more work on the transmission and brake system, that final coat of paint and a baxt ritual, and she’d be ready to go.
Sam ran a gentle hand along her roof. “Be glad when we’re back on the road,” he said, so quiet Dean barely heard him.
“You know it,” Dean agreed. “Give me a hand with the transmission?”
Sam nodded, stripping off the fancy white shirt he’d borrowed for the funeral, and they got to work.