The mailers made sense now.
The mailers — then the full brochures that followed later on — came from the Institute of Eidetic Transfer Sciences, a La Jolla-based concern that I didn't even know existed until their literature began coming in the mail a while back. I found out later that one of my sisters had put me on their mailing list for something she had either done or was planning to do and was hoping to soften me up to the deed.
Well, it turned out that she actually had done the deed. Exactly what she had done and why she had done it came as the real surprise.
My two sisters and I have never been close. As adults we seem to be spinning off on our own trajectories and there is nothing to pull us together anymore. Even in my retirement from the aerospace industry I had thought that perhaps old enmities could be forgotten. Life, after all, is short. Sadly, this was not to be.
Then one day I received a phone call from my middle sister, Caitlin. I was deep into Von Karajan's take on Shostakovich's 10th Symphony and was practically asleep.
"Jordan Grozak," I said, answering the phone.
"Jordan!" Caitlin said breathlessly.
"Caitlin?" I was quite surprised to hear from her. "Where are you calling from? The connection's lousy."
"Never mind that," she said. "Have you heard about Vanessa? I mean, have you heard what she's done?"
I was standing at the phone nook where I often toss my junk mail. I picked up a brochure from the Institute of Eidetic Transfer Sciences. "Well, no," I said.
"Daddy's back, Jordan," Caitlin said. "Vanessa's had Daddy resurrected and he's living with her. He's living with her in her home in the Pacific Palisades!"
Shostakovich was a tad loud in the background. "I'm sorry. What did you say?"
"Vanessa's had Dad resurrected." I heard a sob. "And he's back living with her. Just like the old days, right before he died."
This would explain the brochures. My youngest sister Vanessa had been softening me up for the possibility that she was going to have Dad resurrected through the IETS.
Christ, I thought.
I tried to recollect what the resurrection procedure was like from the brochures. It takes about eight years to accelerate a cloned subject from fetus to the form of a man at the age of 67, the age our father had been when he died. It takes another year to seat the eidetic matrix taken earlier from the original host. Then there would be another month for the resurrectee to reorient himself to the world he had left when he died. Then he could be sent home.
All told, it added up to about ten years. And since we, the children of Harl Grozak, rarely communicate with each other, Vanessa, the one sibling who was closest to Dad, would have had all the time in the world to pull the stunt off.
"Oh, no," I said in a whisper.
"Oh, yes!" Caitlin said.
The IETS doesn't resurrect just anybody. You have to have contributed to society in some way. Harl Grozak had been a Pulitzer Prize-winning history professor at the University, but on the home front he was much less brilliant as a father and husband. Only Vanessa seemed to have bonded with him. When Dad died in the fall of '21, his death caused no real ripples in our already fractured family.
The real shock, though, was in what he left behind, which was a sizeable fortune. He had a generous pension plan from USC and he had the usual stocks and bonds as well as a small fortune in gold coins — Krugerrans, Canadian Maple Leafs, and the like. He died a very rich man.
Dad's most treasured item, however, was an authentic Chagall, a drawing from 1908 about the size of a postcard. It was given to him by a former student who had herself won it in a vicious divorce settlement. The drawing was once appraised at about ten million dollars. It's worth more now. And Vanessa, child number three, my youngest sister, got it all — the retirement fund, the gold coins, everything.
What none of us knew at the time, which we were only now figuring out, was that some of Dad's money had apparently been recycled by Vanessa for the purpose of eventually recycling him.
I rubbed my forehead, trying to grasp what Caitlin was saying. I'm retired now. My fighter pilot days are over and my consulting career behind me. I only wanted a quiet life from here on out. I certainly had no desire to get into a family squabble, particularly between my sisters.
"Have you spoken with Vanessa about this?" I asked.
"No," Caitlin said. "Vanessa's in Europe. She left this morning. Business or something."
"How did you find out about Dad?"
"He called me." Caitlin started sobbing again.
I could picture Caitlin with her short black hair, looking younger than her years. It was very difficult to picture her sobbing, particularly for our father. Dad had been a brilliant historian but a pointedly uncommunicative father to his children, particularly to his daughters, particularly to Caitlin.
"I think Daddy found his old phone. It must have been hot, still charged after all these years."
"Wait. When did this happen?" I asked.
"About an hour ago."
"What did he say to you? What was he like?"
Caitlin took a breath. "Actually, he was very sweet. He asked how I was doing. Then he said that he missed me, that he'd like to see me now that he's no longer teaching. Jordan, he doesn't know he's been dead for ten years!"
"Oh, man," I whispered.
Caitlin went on. "At the web site for the Institute for Eidetic Transfer Sciences they say that only thirty percent of the host's original personality is captured in the eidetic mapping process. Even if it isn't him, he thinks he's him. It sure sounded like him, Jordan."
"Maybe the process does work," I said.
"That's not the point," Caitlin said. "Daddy shouldn't have been resurrected in the first place!"