Chapter Ten

I overslept the morning of the funeral. My alarm clock was broken. Actually, I didn’t have an alarm clock. I didn’t have an alarm clock or a watch so I guess I really had no way of knowing I overslept. I always just assumed, upon waking, that I had overslept something or the other. Usually, living without any timekeeping devices, this was the case.

I rushed to my closet and rifled through my old clothes until I came to my charcoal funeral/wedding/special occasion suit. I had had this suit since I was fourteen. I stripped off my clothes that had grown thin and stretched and felt like they were almost a part of me and stroked my beard. It had a calming effect, stroking the beard. It told me that life moved slowly and there was no reason to rush anything. The beard did not rush. It flowed from my skin at a steady rate. I didn’t know exactly what that rate was but I knew it was slow. Glacial. A glacial rate.

I put the suit on and realized either the suit had shrunk or I had grown. Or maybe that was just what happened when the dry cleaning instructions were ruthlessly disregarded over such a long period of time. Regardless, it was very ill-fitting. The hems of the pants came up well above my ankles and I couldn’t even button the jacket. I felt like a fat ape. Not that I really cared. On my best day I wasn’t very concerned about appearances and I found myself even less so now. I was the grieving son. No one was going to criticize me for my slovenly dressing habits. I tore around the room, looking for a pair of shoes but couldn’t find any. I couldn’t even find any socks. When was the last time I had even worn shoes and socks? I figured it was probably the day I had returned home. What felt like so many months ago now.

I went out into the rest of the house. No one was there. I half-expected to see mother still lying there on the floor but the house was still and dark and empty and the only sound was the rain pelting on the windows. Outside, heavy dark clouds hung in the sky, too high to be elephants. A perfect day for a funeral. I didn’t know how I was going to get there. I didn’t even really know where the funeral was. I felt lost.

I searched the kitchen for keys. That was where the parents always kept their keys. But I couldn’t find anything. It looked like I would have to walk. Where was Action? Why hadn’t he picked today to creepily stalk around the house and ask if I could come out and play? Maybe he was at the funeral. Like a good neighbor. He probably didn’t really have anything else to do. He would probably go just to see if there was someone there he could take advantage of which, at a funeral, there almost always was. Funerals and weddings. Joy and grief, two polar opposite emotions that end up sharing a lot of the same fallouts.

I went outside and looked at Mom’s El Camino. Did it even need keys? Probably not. It seemed to run off some kind of magical power but I was too late to try and harness that magical power and magical power, like good luck, was something I would probably never have.

I took off walking toward town. If my dad had anything to do with the burial, then the funeral would be at Baruk’s Discount Memorial Garden and Crematorium. The commercials had always said it was a no frills kind of place for a no frills kind of budget, or something like that. I’m sure they had some sort of seductive adman way of saying it. “Why pay for something you’re going to bury?” I sloshed along the grass on the side of the road, the rain beating down on me. At least it was a warm day so the rain didn’t seem as cold.

Why the hell didn’t Dad wake me up for the funeral? It wasn’t like I needed my sleep or anything. Since returning home, it seemed like all I did was sleep.

A car filled with teenagers passed me. Two of them had their asses stuck out the windows, mooning me. They shouted and screamed something that sounded like “Fag!” They were gone before I could come up with any kind of retort. I was never very good at that sort of thing anyway. I stroked my dripping beard and realized yet another function of the increasingly utilitarian beard—it kept a lot of the rain off my face. If only my head could have been made of this coarse, oily, wiry hair, I wouldn’t have been nearly as uncomfortable. Only, the hair on my head was very thin and left my scalp almost completely exposed to the elements. My suit was nearly soaked through and I was still quite a way from town and the cemetery was on the far side.

It became mechanical, my walking. I tried to walk along at a steady clip and not think about being late at all. I would probably end up at the wrong cemetery anyway and then what? I mean, not attending your mother’s funeral is a pretty heinous act, right? I think if I missed it completely, I would just have to keep on walking. Maybe back to Dayton to see if my apartment full of homeless guys was still there. That was one of the beauties of being around the homeless guys. They lacked a home and all that it implied, mainly family. Sure, some of them had family but they were the mean ones who had written them off and the bums, in turn, had written them off. So it was like if they had any living family then that family was already dead. I’ve often thought family can be the source for more sorrow than one can find anywhere else.

The carload of teenagers came back by. This time, one of them was strapped to the roof of the car, completely naked. He brandished his sizable genitals at me as the car sped past, kicking up a mist of disgusting road water. If they came back by, I was worried they would just throw me down, strip off my clothes, and anally rape me. After all, that was the kind of day it was turning out to be. But I managed to successfully zone out and after my legs felt like rubber and my feet were so sore I didn’t think I would be able to walk anymore, I looked up and saw the neon lights at the cemetery gate.

A group of people stood at the top of the hill and I went toward it.

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