Friday, October 13, 2006

The Falls: Chapter one

The story below is from my youth. Names have been changed, and events have been altered…somewhat.

The Falls: Chapter one

Figurative beginnings, Literal endings.

Memories are tricky things. They evolve and take on new meanings, but you must ask yourself if truth lay in the details, or in the broad strokes. - Minick.

There are many things that make a summer day hot. The sun beating down on the north Texas dirt so hard that when a gust of wind hits it just brings the hot open air beneath the shade tree you are squatting under so that super heated air burns your skin. The heat of an overcrowded, dysfunctional home, that is being semi-cooled by window units driving you out into the scorching sunlight. The heat of a pubescent body burning for action and movement.

On summer days like this my Irish heritage betrays me, and even though I have dark hair my skin remains as white as my red headed cousins, so I am forced to monitor how much time I spend in direct sunlight. I am perched on my hunches avoiding the laser light of today's sun beneath a tree on a corner in my neighborhood. It seems appropriate to call it MY neighborhood as it is the opinion, right or wrong, of the kids I hang with, and myself, that we with run things.

Through squinted eyes I can see the twins making there way up the street. They are headed in the direction of where I am squatted underneath the shade tree. They are twins, but look nothing a like. One with light, fluffy, almost blonde hair, and the other with straight dark hair that looks plastered to his head as if pressed on by a machine. One of normal stature for his age, and one so short he looked as if he was the younger brother by three to four years. One that looked like he would be athletic and capable of running from dawn until dusk, and the other unbelievably skinny, and one might think he had a terminable disease. These brothers of the opposite slowly work their way up the block towards me, going from yard to yard, kicking anything that gets in their path, and pushing each other back and forth as brothers of thirteen do.
The twins live with their grandparents. Their grandmother is the preverbal grandmother, full of love, doing anything for her grandchildren, and totally incapable of raising, and keeping up with two young boys. Their grandfather had a stroke some years back and is confined to a wheel chair. He now spends his days peeing into a Folgers can because he could not get up to go to the bathroom, and hurling insults at anyone that gets near him. The insults are not too biting as no one could make out what he was saying through his slurred speech, and when we talk back to him we garble what we say into nothingness, further inflaming him. You just know when he raises his voice at you and speaks his mush mouth talk that it is something bad about you or your mother. I was told that before the stroke he had been a really nice man, but that the chair, the coffee can, and the total loss of his former dignity had remade him, and forged a new him in the fire of humiliation. Maybe he was actually saying, "Nice to see you again, hope you are having a good day", but the fact that he was generally throwing a pair of scissors or a roller skate at me when I saw him made me doubt that.

The twins house was a place were we could rest up between shenanigans in the neighborhood, and get some much needed air conditioning on days like today, all the while having a seventy year old man rage at us, while his dong hung out of his pants because most of the time he forgot to put it back in when done peeing into the can.

I took my attention away from the twins and refocused it on the house that sat catty cornered across the street from my shade tree that offers no comfort. It was, far and away, the oddest, most unique, and attention grabbing house I had ever seen, in my neighborhood or any other. The entire house, all sides and the roof, are shingled in wood, which is now grayed and degraded from years of rain and the unrelenting summer sun beating down on it. The house sits on a corner lot, and the next lot in from the corner was also owned by the same person, but had a tall dilapidated wooden fence that ran around the perimeter instead of a house on it. Within the fence sat a lifetimes worth of tossed aside items. Old refrigerators and swamp coolers. Unused building materials and car parts. If someone were to look over the fence they would see something that was a cross between a junk yard, and that closet that everyone has in their home that contains all the useless items that a person accumulates during their life, but can not seem to part with.

On the front-left side of the house a sailing boat had been tipped up against the house and built into the home and was now part of the main living room. Towering over the house from the backyard stood a three story wooden pyramid that was built for god only knows what reason. Next to the pyramid stood a huge tree that had to be hundreds of years old, and was the only thing in the neighborhood that was taller than the pyramid. Conjecture as to the reasons that the pyramid was built, and to what purpose it was used was for years the main topic at the dinner tables of the neighborhood. Only one person knew that answer, and he never told anyone.

The front entrance of the house was never used, and instead the side entrance that led to the side street was the only door that anyone ever saw open and close. The side door opened up onto a small portion of yard strewn with lawn chairs and industrial wire spools turned on their side in order to hold ashtrays and beer cans.

My attention was taken away from eyeballing the house for the millionth time by my name being yelled from down the street in the opposite direction of the plodding twins approach. I turned around to see Luke several front yards away. Luke was a gregarious kid that I had known since I moved into the neighborhood in the third grade. Luke's father was an ex-preacher and now led a life of beer, work, and letting his kids do whatever they wanted. We spent many afternoons at Luke's house watching porn and trying our first beers, while talking like we knew anything about girls other than what we saw in Luke's dad's porn movies. We had watched all of the big titles; Behind the Green Door, Debbie does Dallas, and a myriad of others.

Luke walked in a way that you could tell he did not have too many daily cares. Other than waking up in the morning, hanging at his house while his dad was at work, running the neighborhood, and eating, Luke did not have too many things to worry about, and if he did, he did not worry about them. That was just Luke's way. All the mothers in the neighborhood loved Luke and his impish style. No matter what trouble Luke stirred up in the neighborhood, he was never in trouble.

"Hey retard, what are you doing sitting under that tree?" yelled Luke.

"It's fucking hot and I am waiting on the twins, what are you doing?"

"Oh, yeah" says Luke squinting up at the sun as he walks up to me. "I am just walking around seeing what's up. Why are you waiting on them?" I just point to the house with a boat on it and Luke understands.

Behind me I can hear the twins approaching and they are, as they almost always are, fighting and cussing each other. Suddenly Lonnie, the sickly twin, flies into my view and explodes in a cloud of dust on the ground in front of me. His brother, Donnie, has given him a particularly hard push and knocked him down and is now laughing himself silly.

"You fucking asshole!" Lonnie says as he rises to his feet and does not bother to dust himself off, "you want me to do this or not?"

"You will do it or you are going back down on the ground." says Donnie smiling to himself. All of us have our attention focused on the house across the street. We are looking for a sign of stirring, some indication that our plan can be put into action, that we will get accomplished what we have set out to do this day…that Lonnie will be successful.

We do not wait too long before our anticipation is satiated when the screen door on the side of the house begins to creek open, and a figure emerges from the house. This figure is mythical in our neighborhood and legendary in our young minds. This figure is Minick.

Minick is a mixture of sage and shaman, of recluse and witchdoctor, of maniac and prophet, of psycho and tutor. Minick is a retired barber, who at the end of his career had attempted to kill himself by jumping off of a bridge into the Red River. The attempt failed due to the fact that the Red River rarely had enough water in it during the summer to be deserving of the moniker of river and Minick had smacked onto his back into wet sand and broke his spine. The injury had left him stooped over and he had to walk with a cane that was more shalaylee than walking stick. His head was always tilted up in order to give him a more natural field of view from his stooped position as opposed to looking down at the ground. He had a curly mop of hair on his head that was half grey and half black. His eyes flickered dangerously around from behind a pair of coke bottle glasses. Minick rarely spoke to anyone in the neighborhood, but when he did it was almost always some confrontation started by Minick that only he knew the reason for. All the adults that spoke to him were left with the impression that he was insane, and dangerous, and thus all of us kids in the neighborhood were strictly forbidden contact with him.

We had always gone against our parents wishes because Minick was intriguing, one of the few interesting people in a neighborhood of working stiff, beer drinking dads, and he was the only source, that we knew, or at least would sell to us, of weed in the neighborhood. Even so, few of the gang of kids that I ran with had any real contact with him other than dodging the sticks and rocks he would throw at us as we walked by, or had a conversion with him other than being berated with a mixture of insults, poetry, and prophecy as he threw the sticks and rocks at us. The one exception to this was Lonnie. For some reason unknown to anyone, probably even including himself, Minick had taken a liking to Lonnie and this allowed us a steady supply of weed, so we were willing to forgive both Minick's insanity, and how annoying it could be hanging out with Lonnie as he spent much of that time trying to pick fights with one of us and getting his ass kicked.

There were so many stories of Minick's antics and actions that a person could never relay them all or even know them all. You were always hearing new stories of something Minick had done back in the day, or just last week. You never knew which ones were true, half truths, or entirely made up, and this caused a mythology to build up around Minick.

There was the story of Minick being caught in his front yard during the middle of the day having coitus with one his German Sheppard's. This dog was later shot by a woman police officer that had been called to the house for some disturbance. Minick had sicked this dog and another dog on the police officer and she had promptly shot them to pieces in his front yard as half the neighborhood had looked on. This had prompted an endless array of jokes and ponderings as to what it must be like to watch your lover gunned down before you.

There was the time that a bunch of us had been walking down the street heading from one misdemeanor offense to another, and had by chance walked by Minick's place just in time to see him begin to beat his only friend in the world with his walking stick in the middle of the street. Minick gave him a really good beating and the guy was unconscious in the middle of the street with blood all around him, but Minick still had enough of his wits about him to sell Lonnie, and thus us, some weed before the cops and an ambulance got there to retrieve the unconscious man from the street, and arrest Minick.

The stories go on and on.

"Get to getting son." chided Luke at Lonnie.

"You just sit here and watch a master at work, retard." Lonnie murmured as he strode off across the street.

"Think Minick will kill him?" I asked.

"Only if we are lucky." tiredly answered Donnie.

Donnie was very tired. We were all tired. We had been up most of the previous night in the backyard of the twins trying to knock each other off of a king size waterbed mattress that we had blown up like a balloon with a hair dryer and duct taped the hole shut to hold the air in. We were playing some sort of king of the mountain were the king stayed on top of the mattress until someone else could run and slam their body into the blown up mattress hard enough to knock the king off onto the ground and then they became king. So on and so fourth. We had been joined that night by a rare outdoor appearance of Danny. Danny was a rather odd older kid that had a weak chin that was so weak it appeared that his bottom lip just ran into his neck. Sometimes, Danny would have everyone over to his house to play pool and watch the homemade porn movies that his mom and dad shot.

We snuck out almost every night during the summer and we were always up to no good. We did various and sundry things ranging from shooting out all the street lights in the neighborhood to breaking into gas stations at night in order to get the change out of the registers so we could afford to go to the movies the next day. We had a freedom at night we did not enjoy during the day. This freedom was both literal and figurative. Freedom to roam about without adults asking us what we were up to, assuming we were up to no good, which we generally were, and yelling at us to get the hell out of wherever we were, or calling the cops on us. And most importantly freedom from the unrelenting sun and heat which where were now suffering through.

We watch as Lonnie converses with Minick. Minick likes to negotiate the deal as if he is a used car salesmen, but the price and amount of weed never change. I think it just gives him something to do for a bit.

The times that people misunderstand you are when you understand yourself the most. –Minick.

Read more!

Lost and Found; a Scatological love story.

I have a friend and for the purposes of this story, and others to come, we shall call him Bob just in case he is ever elected President or should have children that stumble across this story at a later date.

Bob was an assistant manager of a strip club. He loved the job for many, many reasons.

Bob had a customer that was a wealthy, attractive, professional woman. She frequented his business establishment because she was bi-sexual and Bob was her inside contact as to which girls were bi, and also would be willing to go home with her in exchange for a sir charge.

One night she was in and looking for a companion and was striking out with no potentials and she asked Bob if he would go home with her instead. Bob said no that he was tired and that he just wanted to go home. She persisted, and told Bob that it would just be for after-hours drinks and nothing more. After an hour of playful begging Bob finally agreed, but laid ground rules that it would just be for drinks. A pact was struck and plans were made.

Bob met her at her lavish upscale apartment after work and she brought out a good bottle of Champagne and they began to drink and talk about various and sundry things, while the first, the second, then the third bottle of Champagne were emptied. Interspaced between the Champagne were shots of vodka.

I believe the quote, as issued to me, was that "after all the drinking, we were in the middle of her living room floor doing it like animals." This goes on for awhile when she reaches over to a table in the living room, opens the door on it and brings out a smallish dildo/vibrator combo and requests Bob to reach around and push this into her arse (my choice of words) while they are doing it like animals. Bob takes the dildo and turns it on and immediately realizes that it has a short or another electrical problem as it runs for a couple of seconds, then cuts off for a bit, then comes back on. Bob shrugs his shoulders and begins to put it to its intended purpose. After a time Bob is having trouble with all of his duties and, as his is very drunk, loses track of the dildo. They carry on for some time until they are done and then roll apart and begin to try and catch their breath and recover their senses, when she asked the question, "Bob, where is the dildo?"

"I think I dropped it, so it must be around here somewhere.", Bob hesitantly answered. Well, long story short, he had not dropped it, but he had let go, and it had gone, all the way in.

She jumped up and went into the bathroom where she spent some time trying to retrieve it. After a time, she realized that she was not going to be able to get it out herself, so she came back out into the living room and told Bob that HE was going to have to give it a go and try to get it out, to which he simply answered, "Excuse me?" Some negotiation went on and finally Bob agreed to give it a go. So, doing his best proctologist impression Bob gave his top effort, but was unable to get the dildo out.

During the whole process the short in the dildo is causing it to turn off and on. Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Silence. Bzzzzzzzzzz Silence. Bob is finding this very unnerving and some how it is adding to the pressure, even though at this time it is muffled.

They sit and talk and think for a bit and she says to Bob, "you are going to have to take me to the hospital." Bob has visions of taking this public and is not happy with it. He asked if there are no other solutions, and she says she has a friend that lives close that might be able to help. She makes a phone call and the friend on the other end of the line agrees to come over, even though it is almost 4am, and says they will be there soon.

They sit and wait for the friend and have what is a fairly awkward session of small talk. Shortly the friend arrives, a very hot brunette, and they disappear into the bedroom. Twenty minutes later they emerge and admit defeat. She again tells Bob that he is going to have to take her to the hospital and further negotiations ensue. Bob eventually acquiesces. They load up in her car and drive to the hospital, all along the siren song of the dildo goes on. Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Silence. Bzzzzzzzzzz Silence.

Shortly they arrive at the hospital and the time is pushing 5:30am. The dildo has been singing its song the entire way.

As they come into the emergency room she hands her insurance card and ID to Bob and tells him to check her in, and that she is going to the bathroom to give it one more try. "Uhhh ok.", Bob replies and steps up to the counter. Behind the counter sits and extremely gorgeous, young, nubile, blonde haired, blue eyed female nurse. Normally in this situation Bob would be trying to work out the best way to get her phone number, but in this time this is a worst case scenario, as he is now faced with telling her that he has brought in a woman he barely knows to the hospital because she has a dildo stuck in her ass and her, him and some other girl he had never met before all failed horribly at retrieving it.

"I need to speak to a male nurse or a male doctor."

"I am sorry, but we do not have a male nurse here at the moment and I am the intake nurse, so just tell me the nature of the problem I will get the paperwork started so that a doctor can see you."

"We could stand here until hell freezes over and I dont think I could ever force the words to come out of my mouth. Please can I speak to a male doctor? "

"That isnt possible sir. I have seen and heard it all, so just tell me the nature of the problem and we can get the process started."

"I am sure you have, and normally I would love to hear those words come out of your mouth, but in this case I just cant. Is there anyway I could please speak to a guy? I dont care if it is the janitor, and then he can tell you, but I just dont think I can."

Then the clouds part, the Gods grant Bob favor and a deus ex machina moment worthy of a Greek tragedy happens. She walks up behind him and places her hand on Bobs shoulder and whispers into his ear, It is ok. I got it out, and it is in my purse.

"Never mind. Got to go.", Bob stutters to the nurse, spins on his heals and heads for the door.

"Wow that was close.", says bob.

"Yes it was. Want to get something to eat?"

"I could really go for some pancakes. Lets go to IHOP"

Read more!

Little deaths in The Falls.

I am seventeen and I am at Paul Trigona's house. It is Saturday night. I am very stoned. I have been drinking for a significant period of time, beginning sometime around mid afternoon, and recently I began stacking on top of that copious amounts of weed. I am far beyond gone and meandering around Paul's house like a vagabond hoping that no one will speak to me, as the inane, incoherent babble that I will issue back at them will surely send them fleeing into the night. My wonderings are taking me up and down the stairs. Does Paul's house have a second floor or I am I imagining it? Who knows? Not me.

I pass Jana and Jenny coming down the stairs while I head up them. I think they have incredibly large breasts for such young girls and momentarily think about telling them so. I am thinking about it, and miss my chance, as I can not decide if it would be better to use the word tits or breasts in my exclamation to them, and they are gone before my mind gets around verbalizing anything. My wonderings continue and I get smears of people talking, laughing, and drinking as I bob and weave among them not making eye contact for fear of invoking a conversation that I will not be able to participate in.

I have to step outside and clear my head. Maybe the night air will bring me some measure of clarity, and straighten up my thinking and allow my mouth to begin working. I open the first door I see that looks like it might lead outside and say a little prayer that it is not a closet and I am not walking into it while a room full of people watch. On second thought, that would be great if I played it correctly, but it is not a closet and suddenly I am outside. The air is fresher here and there is certainly a lot less pressure to converse as I stand alone on Paul's Back porch.

My mind is not clearing and the darkness creeps my foggy brain out, so I think maybe I will walk a bit. I head across the yard towards the back gate that leads out into the dirt alley behind Paul's house. I swing the gate open and it makes a loud squeaky noise. I turn left and begin walking down the alley. Out of the right side of my vision I think I see two people fucking on the ground in the alley. Are they really there? Am I losing it? Who fucks in an alley? I don't look and just continue past at a steady walk while trying to discern if I just really saw two people fucking on the ground in an alley, or I have forgotten that I took LSD tonight.

As I walk down the alley random thoughts are coming into my head. I read earlier in the day about a French philosopher that had referred to masturbation as his 'daily suicide'. I too have killed myself many times. Don't the French refer to the orgasm as the little death? Don't they also say that in love there is one who kisses and one who turns the cheek? Fuck the French.

It is not long before I get to the end of the alley and learn that it goes no where. I am trapped in an alley and I may or may not have two people fucking on the ground between me and getting back to the party. At the start of the night I would not have imagined my self in such a dilemma, but here I stand inebriated beyond comprehension facing the dire possibility that I am going to have to walk back by these two people in the throws of alley sex. Is not love grand?

I take a deep breath and head back down the alley towards Paul's house, the party, and an infinite amount of conversation to avoid, all the while hoping that to my left I will not see two naked people on the ground having sex by a trash can. I am unlucky and indeed they are there. I think the guy is yelling something at me. Asking me something along the lines of why the fuck I am disturbing his goings on, and I want to yell back, "why in the fuck are your fucking some girl in an alley beside a trash can!", but I don't as going back in to explain to the party goers that I just got my ass kicked by some naked guy in the alley with a wet dick is more than I could possibly take, so I just move on and back into Paul's yard.

I somewhat gather myself, do some deep breathing, count to two and open the door and head back inside. The blurry people are still here. They are still apparently having a good time as it seems very loud to me. What time is it? I need a watch. I stumble around looking for a clock. They must have a clock somewhere. It is a must and people have these things. After what seems a very long time to me I find a clock and it is 1:45 in the morning. It will be Tuesday before I am able to operate a motor vehicle. There is no way I will be able to drive home. What is one to do?

My mother, who knows of my tendency to imbibe, has made an agreement with me that if I am in bad shape I just call and tell her that I am alive and will not be home. This is my plan, however I must speak into a phone and have what I say understood by another human that is not drunk/stoned/some other stuff. First I must find a phone. I do this by asking everyone I see, "Phone?" and following the direction their blurry fingers points. What is my phone number? I poke at the phone for awhile and after a couple of wrong numbers my mother answers and I say,

"Fucked up. Not coming home."

Just as I am about to hang up she says, "You must tell me where you are I have to come get you right now, something terrible has happened."

"Fucked up. Not coming home."

"Brian hand the phone to someone that is not drunk and let me get the address I am coming to get you."

I hand the phone to the first person that walks by and tell them, "It is for you.", and walk out the front door.

My mother arrives sometime later and pulls up in front of Paul's house. I get in the car. I don't even try to pretend to not be out of my mind. She says that she has something to tell me that is very shocking and I need to brace myself. I think about telling her about the people fucking in the alley as that is pretty shocking too, but I think better of it.

"Tonight your step brother and sisters mother was gunned down in a bowling alley while they watched." Did I hear that right? Who dies in a bowling alley? They should add that to the game Clue. In the bowling alley, with a gun, by the Son-in-law.

"Really?", I say while I think Paul sure has a lot of Morrissey records.

"Yes, there was a dispute at the bowling alley that escalated until shots were fired." As bowling alley disputes are want to do, I want to say, but don't.

The long and the short of the story that my mother told me on the car ride back home is this: My stepsister husband had been drinking and was asked to leave the bowling alley by my stepsisters step-dad. Follow? They were trying to have a family outing with kids, cousin, aunts and uncles and he was majorly messing up the program by being belligerent and obnoxiously drunk. When asked to leave he did, but only long enough to go to his car and get a .357 and return to the lanes. When it was noticed that he had returned and was now armed and pointing a gun at my stepsisters mother the step-dad stepped in front of her and an explosion erupted in the bowling alley as he was shot in the back. Follow? The bullet went into him, through his heart, out his chest, into the face of my stepsister's mother, then into her brain. They both died there, instantly, at the feet of her children and his wife. He proceeded to flee and was chased by the aunts and uncles. He was tackled near the door. He turned and another explosion erupted in the bowling alley that was only prohibited from entering the face of the aunt, by the fact that the uncle hit the gun and the bullet flew into the ceiling. He escaped their grasp by kicking his boots off as they held him by the legs and ran into the night. He was later discovered at a nearby country bar on the dance floor trying to mingle in.

In a normal frame of mind this would have bee a lot to take in and digest, but in my current state this overload to say the least. About the time the story ended we were at my house and it was time to go in. I got out of the car stumbled to the door and went in.

One of my stepsisters was sitting in my step-dad's recliner. She was the middle of the three and in the eighth grade. I asked why she was laughing and eating a sandwich. I was told that she was heavily sedated, and did not really know what was going on, and had mentioned that she was hungry. My step brother who was eleven was sitting in the floor with the Vietnam veteran one thousand yard stare on his face. While not sedated I don't really think he was in the room either. I have no idea where my stepsister that is married to the now double murderer is, and I don't think my parents do either.

What do you say to two young kids that just earlier witnessed their mother being gunned down at a bowling alley, when you are out of your mind? The answer is nothing. You say nothing. You try and melt into the furniture. Fuse with the wall. You let them soak things in, freak out, and eat a sandwich.

Read more!

Death of a stranger

The phone rings. It is 7am on Thursday. My wife yells up from downstairs that it is my mother. My mother never calls at odd times unless someone has died, and I merely have to pick up the phone each time to find out who it is.

The last time she called it was my uncle Roy. He was a gregarious man that went through life enjoying it, and had as many girlfriends/wives/lovers as shoes he had owned during the course of his life. He had three sons, two of which had taken the wrong path in life and found their way into long prison sentences, and one that committed suicide at the age of twenty two.

She always details to me the nature of their death, what family members are planning on attending, and how the family is reacting. It is like having my own obituary service, and while appreciated makes for a certain hesitancy to answer the phone when it is not time for her weekly catch up call on the weekends, as it means someone life that I knew has ended.

She always details to me the nature of their death, what family members are planning on attending, and how the family is reacting. It is like having my own obituary service, and while appreciated makes for a certain hesitancy to answer the phone when it is not time for her weekly catch up call on the weekends, as it means someone life that I knew has ended.

This time is was someone I knew, but did not know. It was my father. Estranged does not really go far enough to describe the situation as I never knew him well enough to ever have felt alienated from him, or missed him, or to feel any bitterness toward him. He was for all practical purposes just a distant relative, like we all have but never see, and I never had any delusions as to some grand connection between us. We had some contact after I graduated from high school, but as my life busied with work, I moved away from town, and in the midst of just the day to dayness that life can become we lost contact over twelve years ago.

My mother details the information to me, as to when the funeral and what not will occur, but it coincides with plans that I already have, so I see little chance of me attending, but she wants me to call my sister and talk to her, as my mother thinks she is taking it pretty rough.

I call my sister and indeed she is not taking it well, and has taken the day off as she feels she will not be able to make it through the work day. She is planning on attending and I tell her that I will go with her if she goes so that she does not have to attend alone, as she will be among strangers and may be, or may not be welcome.

My sister and I have only recently moved beyond the preexisting brother-sister relationship into an adult relationship, so it is important to me to be there for her regardless of my feelings on the subject, and I begin to rearrange my schedule for the next couple of days.

Unlike myself, I think that my sister had held on to the sliver of hope that she and he would one day sit down and talk. Talk about the important things and the past. Talk about her life, and his life. Learn about him and get to know him. I think she had pinned some small part of herself on this hope. That she felt it would validate a small part of her if she knew this man. That she would be made whole and reclaim a part of her that she felt had been missing. His death has sealed off this hope with the finality that only death can bring, and this now only adds weight to the feelings of incompleteness that she has.

The next thing I do is to go onto the internet and read the obituary. A death announcement is a strange thing. It is pristine and washed. It is a summary of the days we spent alive, and those we leave behind. It is the good without the bad and the ugly. All things are forgiven in an obituary and we are redeemed. I think I will write my own and add some seedy details.

I travel with my wife and daughter to the Falls and meet my sister at her home. We go to the funeral home, and sit in the back. We do not want our presence to disrupt the proceedings, or add another layer of tension to what already is not a good experience for anyone involved.

It is an open casket funeral and his upper body is on display for the attendees to take in. I think about the finality of it [Death]. Its impact. Its unanswered questions. Its many meanings. The symbolism of it. The reality of it. I am affected differently than my sister. It is not his death in particular, but death in general that swarms my thoughts. I feel as if I am moving into another segment of life. I have buried all of my grandparents and great grandparents, and I am now moved up a position where those that gave me life will now lose theirs. It is only a matter of time before I move up another notch and into waiting for my own death. This has profound meaning for me beyond just the fact that I will no longer be alive, but how will those that survive me get on with things. Who will ensure that my wife is taken care of, and not taken advantage of in her declining years as barring any accidents she shall surely out live me by many years? Who will insure that my children have guidance and direction? Who will take on the weight the world offers and that they may need help with? The fact that time is limited is hammered home with me. That the days, hours and minutes are ticking off. The time I have left must count and be well spent.

My minds wanderings are interrupted by the entrance of his family. He had a wife that he was married to for twenty-eight years. He has two stepsons, a son and a daughter. He has ten grandchildren. I feel bad for them, and for my sister, for he who was a stranger to me was a beloved of them. I sit through the rest of the service and listen to the preacher give his sermon. He weaves from talking about the love of a redeeming Christ to the hellfire that awaits those of us that do not believe. I smile to myself and think I should be buried with a big bag of marshmallows just in case.

The service ends and we make a quick exit out the rear doors. We do not join the procession that slowly walks by the body. We do not pass go.

I worry that my sister will only see and feel the hole that she thinks is there. That she will overlook the many blessings in her life, and focus in, for awhile or for the rest of her life, on what she feels is missing. That she will not see past the illusion, and let it remain real to her. It is difficult, if not impossible, to discuss it with her. How can I say to her that the meaning of her, the essence of what she is and will be, is not tied up in or to another person that she never knew. I can only hope that she will allow herself to come into the realization that she can be a creation of her own. That she has a freedom to chart her own course, and to make her life truly her own without the confines of another's beliefs, limitations, or preconceptions. I do not think she would be overly accepting of this now, but have hopes for the future.

I am ever hopeful of the future, and that with effort a better one can be made.

Read more!