In memory of Ernest Bognine, who passed away in July 2012. Rest in peace, Dominic Santini.

The Condor Passes

Le Van Hawke propped a bouquet of flowers by the headstone on Toni Donatelli Santini's grave. Caitlin Hawke set another bouquet on the adjoining grave of Dominic Santini, in the Catholic part of the cemetery in Van Nuys. She stood looking down on the gray granite slab. Le Van linked his arm through hers. "Dominic," she said, "It's me, Caitlin, and Le Van. I'm sorry I haven't visited for a while. String and I were busy with some repairs on the roof. But Le and I wanted to tell you, Tiffy's pregnant again, another great, great grandchild for you."

Cait pulled her jacket shut. It was unusually cool for April, with a cold rain starting to splash on her unprotected white hair and on Le's graying head. The sound of the rain was growing louder on the sidewalk behind them. The skies were steel gray.

Cait swallowed, her throat so tight she could barely speak. "Dom, I'm sending String to you. He missed you so much, I know he's happy to see you again. Take care of him for me, for now. Until I can be there." Le reached his arm around her shoulders.

She straightened the flowers, an arrangement of daffodils and tulips with some lilacs, a breath of spring. Rain drops were glistening on the petals. "Jeanny and Patrick said they'd come by to visit soon. Danny, too. I miss you, Dom." She rested her hand on the gravestone, head bowed.

The rain came down harder. Le said, "Come on, Mom. Time to go." They ran for the car.