Anzzia Magazine Summer 2019 Volume #31 - Page 44

Flowers were all around. I clutched the rails to pull myself up to the side.

It wasn't Dave!

Yes. It was. The face was puffy and ashen. His chestnut hair seemed pasted on. His debate pin was on the blue lapel of his suit. It was like Dali had done the embalming.

I jerked as someone touched me on the shoulder. Dave's mother, eyes bloodshot, smiled weakly at me.

"There's someone I'd like you to meet." she whispered.

She led me to the back of the room. A tall, heavy set woman with black hair watched as we approached.

"This is Dave's grandmother. My mother." she said.

"I want to thank you," the older woman sighed, "I heard you did all you could for Dave. If not for you this probably would've happened months ago."

All I could think was, "What!? A lot of fuckin' good it did!" All I said was, "Thanks."

I walked out of the room and down to the basement. I lit a cigarette, cried, and beat my fist on the wall.

It was cold the next day. The funeral was two blocks away from the funeral home. I was at the foot of the casket as we took it from the hearse and began up the steps to the church. Cars lined the street under the grey January skies. A lone bird, chirped from a bare branch.

It was cold inside the cavernous church. A large icon of the Virgin Mary was on the left, behind the altar. Organ pipes were on the right. We sat the casket down in front and turned to the pews. I sat next to Stan, at

the end.

"Dave would've hated this." Stan whispered.

They played the cassette of the slow movement from Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto that had been playing the other day. The priest said a lot of crap. The organ began playing "Amazing Grace". It was done.

We went up to the bier and lifted the casket.

We arrived at the cemetery. Snow flurried about. I got out of the car and went to the rear of the hearse. The coffin slid towards me as I reached for its handle. An attendant reached in front of me to give me a hand.

"Don't touch that!" I snapped under my breath. He looked into my eyes and backed away.

Snowflakes speckled the blue coffin. I looked at it under its canopy, from my car twenty feet away. People milled about like figures in a snow globe. I went home.

That evening, Linda, a former student, stopped by. I hadn't seen much of her since she'd left for college. Linda was a tall, lanky woman with soft, red hair and pale face. She sat with her legs pulled up to her chest, dressed in jeans and a plaid shirt. She shivered slightly as we sat in the living room. The last movement of Tchaikovsky's "Pathetique" played in the background.

"I debated with him a few times." she said.

I stared at the fire, sipped beer, and lit another cigarette, only to crush it in the ash tray. I looked at her teary eyes.

The Living

by

Robert M. Stumpf, II