It was very late by the time Fred arrived at the castle. The plane had sat on the tarmac in New York for three hours, and then the Prius he had rented at the airport in San Francisco had been unavailable and they had stuck him with a grotesque Hummer, and by the time he got where he was supposed to be going it was way after dinner. He was hungry. He was tired. And he was filled with dread about the event that awaited him.

He was a little disappointed as he stood at the front door with his wheelie bag and fold-over. It wasn’t really a castle. It was simply a large hotel that his brother, Rob, had selected for the family reunion. They had called it a castle in the promotional material, and as he looked up he could actually make out in the gloom a turret or two. But it wasn’t a castle, any more than that Sheraton on the Mass Pike just outside Framingham was a castle. It was a building with pretension, that was all.

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