Chapter Twelve

I stood under the blinking neon lights of the cemetery entrance. Another funeral party was descending on the cemetery. They had to keep it rolling. I stepped out of the way to let them pass. I didn’t really want to go home but figured I had to. After all, without any shoes, no place would let me in. Apparently, barefootedness is something completely despicable in our society. Eventually, we’ll all be wearing biohazard jumpsuits and rubber gloves.

On the other side of the road, sinister and idling, sat the car that had carried the mooners/exhibitionists from earlier. Remembering my thought about the anal rape, I contemplated running, but there was only one person in the car. The one who had brandished his genitals at me. He opened the door and approached me. I covered my eyes.

“No, I’ll keep my clothes on,” he said.

I uncovered my eyes. I thought maybe he was just here for the funeral and had parked down here on the street because he was embarrassed about his car or something. It was primer black and missing the lid to the trunk.

He put a comforting hand on my arm. “I just wanted to say I’m sorry,” he said.

“Sorry?” I asked.

“Yeah, for mooning you and flashing you. I realized, after we drove away, how uncomfortable that must have made you feel. No one wants to see that. I mean, if I had known you were on your way to a funeral we never would have done that. In fact, we shouldn’t have done it anyway. I assure you, it will never happen again. To anyone. That was our first time. I don’t want you to think we just drive around doing that to everyone. I mean, I wouldn’t want you to think we were doing it to you just because of who you are but... well, you get the idea. Anyway, like I said, we’re all real sorry. Keith and Dorian, those were the others in the car with me, they went to the community college to enroll in classes. We realized, after making such asses of ourselves, that’s not who we really are. We’re better than that. They’ve decided to seek higher education and me, because my family is very wealthy, I’ve decided to throw myself into philanthropy and acts of good citizenship.”

I didn’t know what to say.

“Well,” I stammered. “That’s great, I guess.” I was still kind of waiting for the joke in all of this.

“So, who died?”

“My mom.”

“I’m so sorry to hear that. If there’s anything I can do for you, just let me know. You want my shoes?” He started taking his shoes off. I stopped him.

“No. I don’t want your shoes. Thanks for the offer. I just... I just couldn’t wear another person’s shoes. I’m sorry.”

“Well, maybe I can give you a ride home then. You live in that farmhouse on Paradox Road, right?”

“Yeah, how did you know?”

“Well, we saw you walking earlier, for one thing. We’re also really good friends with a guy who lives out there. Action? You know him?”

“Yeah. We’ve met.”

“Anyway, he’s a horrible person. We’re thinking about trying to run him out of town. I mean, for a while, we thought he was pretty cool but after a while... he’s just so nihilistic, you know?”

“Actually, he’s a solipsist.”

“Is that worse?”

“I don’t know.”

“So, what do you say? Can I give you a ride?”

“Sure. That’d be great. Thanks.”

The rain stopped about halfway back home. We reached the end of the lane and I saw Mom’s El Camino parked up by the house. It made me very sad. I remembered her piling the sticks up in the back of it, proud of her new energy efficient car. That, I realized, was the first time I had seen her in four years and might as well have been the last time. I had gone to my room and focused on growing a beard and napping. If I had known she was going to die like just about everyone seemed to know then I would have tried to spend a little more time with her. It made me mad at Cassie. If Cassie knew she was going to die then why didn’t she try to come home and spend some time with her? If Cassie had come back, I would have known something was wrong.

We reached the house and the boy stopped the car. “My name’s Chair, by the way,” he said.

“I’m David Glum,” I said, shaking his hand. “Thanks a lot for the ride.”

“One of the other guys in the car is going to school for grief therapy so, if you need anything in the way of counseling, I’m sure he would cut you a pretty good deal.”

“I think I’ll be okay.”

“Really? Because, you know, sometimes you think you’re all okay and then, bam, one day, just out of the blue it hits you.”

“Well, if that happens, I’ll go pick a fight with somebody.”

“Being a man of the people I can’t really condone that,” Chair said. “But, just between you and me, if it makes you feel better and nobody gets hurt too bad I think you should go ahead and do it.”

“I’m glad I have your approval. It means a lot coming from such a conscientious person such as yourself. Take care.”

“Later,” he said, speeding away into the gray day.

I turned toward the house and wondered if Dad was going to be there. If so, I had a few questions for him. Missing your mother’s funeral is bad. Missing your wife’s funeral is reprehensible.

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