by Emily DeDakis
"Behind every lie, there is truth deeper than a thousand fathoms, and behind every truth, there is pain. After the pain, there’s pie. Delicious pie." –Stephen DeDakis
"Traveling Pies", a posthumous tribute to my grandfather Hugh, was inspired by these wise words from my little brother Stephen, mined from the snappy genius of his Facebook page, written on 20th September 2009, less than two years before he died. My brother, that is.
Count cards all you want, but you’ll never guess the order they’ll be dealt.
Stephen passed away more than a year before Grampa, at one quarter of his age. Stephen lived eleven years in each century. Hugh’s life started before the great depression in the 20th and arced past another in the 21st. (Like I told my 9th-grade algebra teacher, math is not fair.) Stephen’s life was out-out-brief-candle, Hugh’s was a longform poem. But both were beautiful, and the two of them were proper buddies.
Both of them were cooks, and clowns too. Stevie spent a number of childhood summers with Grampa in upstate New York – staying in the house Hugh built, hanging out with the cousins, and going to clown camp with his grandfather. Hugh’s alter ego was Shuffles the Clown, a visitor to friends in hospital and kids in Sunday school. Stephen was a wicked mimic and a juggling fool. I don’t know if he ever totally mastered playing his trombone while unicycling but, y’know, life goals.
Scraps are infinitely findable, if you’re attentive and gentle with the lost/found items a family accumulates amid the entrances and exits. You can press them together, and eventually roll something resembling a new crust.
Now and then, the three-story house upstate goes on the market. I flick through real estate photos. In those empty times, when there’s space for invisible escapades, I like to think they’re temporary roomies again.
The 22-year-old cooks with chef’s knives and is susceptible to quiet dark funks. The 88-year-old is a retired mechanic, given to stubbornness. Both revel in late-night giggle fits.
There’s baseball on the telly.
Drum solos from the basement.
A unicycle and a half-repaired golf cart in the yard.
A good dog hanging around.
Twilight sing-alongs on the porch.
Grampa smoking his pipe, Stevie smoking everything else.
Future clowning engagements penciled on the calendar.
Artful salads on the table.
Chicken & dumplings on the stove.
One delicious pie in the oven.
The daughter of a musician and a journalist, Emily DeDakis grew up in the Southeast U.S. and emigrated to Belfast, N. Ireland, in 2005. As dramaturg & producer for Accidental Theatre, Emily has developed scripts & run workshops for dozens of playwrights. Dramaturgy credits include: Gordon Osràm’s Funeral (2016); The Lost Martini (2015); The Kitchen, the Bedroom & the Grave – winner of a Stewart Parker Trust script award (2014); & The Dutiful Wife (2013). She founded the Belfast version of Fast & Loose, a 24-hour theatre project now in its 10th year. She received 2014 & ’15 dramaturgy fellowships from the BBC Performing Arts Fund, and is writing her first plays – Shipwrecks & Lighthouses and Stowaway City. Emily’s prose has appeared in The Vacuum, The Yellow Nib, Ulster Tatler, Poetry Proper, and on 2SER (Sydney). In 2012 she collaborated with drummer David Lyttle & pianist Conor Scullion on an improvised musical reading from her novel-in-progress Voicetown.