“Death is but a step into the rest of your life with God,” said the priest, dressed gallantly upon the ornate altar overlooking a vast gothic style church with a ceiling that seemed taller than the church actually was. “Do not fear it; embrace it, for soon you will wake to the warm embrace and love of our Lord.”
“Amen,” said the mass.
“Let us bow our heads, now, in solemn prayer for our fallen brother who now rejoices with God,” the priest commanded.
“Let us pray,” said the mass.
They all had thoughts of wonderment, joy, and mourning. This was surely the funeral mass of a very good man. One woman thought of him romantically, the night they shared together intimately in each other’s embrace nearly 10 years ago. The man’s younger brother thought of him coming to his aid in high school from a bully, punching him in the face with such justification that applause followed; so it was remembered. The brother’s son thought of learning how to play catch from the deceased. The man’s former neighbor held images of him rescuing her kitten from a house fire she had started toasting bread. The man’s wife of 42 years thought of how her love for him never weakened between their wedding day and their anniversary a mere 2 months prior to his death.
It was standard mourning throughout the grand cathedral; Over-romanticizing the minimal deeds of a man who is gone. Except for one; the dead man’s son of all people thought ill. Not of his deceased father, but of the words of the priest. He cared little of his father’s death. It was expected, inevitable, and prepared for. His grief for his father long ago dissipated into a mere shrug-able occurrence. So much so that laying his father to rest stung him less than the words of the priest.
Death is but a step into the rest of your life with God. What nonsense is that? This man was what most religious people would call a sinner, but for fairness’ sake he was a realist. The suggestion that there was life after death was an affront to him. It was a piece of fiction being preached as fact just to comfort the weak. It was his opinion that if only the priest had read a biology book in high school he would understand that within 10 seconds of death all brain function ceases. Without brain function, there is no thought or perception. If there is some magical place like heaven, even the dead wouldn’t know it existed.
“Amen,” signaled the priest, ending all prayers for the dead man. “Will the pallbearers please come up to the altar?”
Upon queue, 6 men arose from their seats, including our realist. The 6 included the younger brother who kissed his daughter before getting up with his son, the deceased’s best friend who kissed his wife’s teary cheek, the son of the dead man’s sister who shot his mother a teenage look of, “Why do I have to do this?”, a former co-worker who waved goodbye to his family, and the realist son who sat alone in the back corner of the church. They proceeded to the altar, and doing their duty solemnly.
“Why don’t we just put this thing on wheels?” whispered the teenage pallbearer under his breath. They all looked disgusted at him, except for the realist who offered a sly smirk. My dad too heavy for ya kid?
They delivered the coffin to the hearse and heaved it in rather unceremoniously with a rocking count of “1… 2…. HEAVE!” For in truth, the realist’s father was quite heavy.
“Hey Danny, come ride with me to the cemetery, kid.”
“Sure, Uncle Pete. Let me go ask my mo…”
“Fuck her,” said realist Pete, getting the smile on his nephew’s face he had hoped for. That smile that suggested “YEA! FUCK HER!” in oh so many words.
Pete led his nephew down the dirty street of downtown Brooklyn. The gorgeous church was a bright spot upon an otherwise blighted neighborhood who was home to more homeless than actual residents. Pete had parked his blue 72 Mustang about a quarter of a mile down the road. “Hop in kid.”
Danny took the queue and rushed in with a look of astonishment; he had no idea his uncle drove such a bad ass car. If he knew his uncle any better, he would know it was really an ass hole car. They chatted at the beginning of the ride, catching up. Pete was surprised to discover Danny was 14 now as opposed to 12.
“Shit kid, 14?” said Pete. “You smoke pot yet?”
“Po-t-t-t?” stuttered Danny. “N-n-n-o sir, I don’t.”
“Well then, it’s about time you gave it a shot,” Pete said as he pulled out a baggy from his pocket. “Here kid, papers are inside. Take your shot at rolling a joint.”
Danny took the baggy with shaking hands, fumbling with the paper and the substance itself. To his credit, despite his inexperience and nervous shaking, he rolled, at the very least, a smoke-able joint. He immediately handed it to Pete. “H-h-h-e-r-r-r-e,” he practically yelped at Pete.
“Not bad kid,” said Pete as he began to light it. “Now listen, what did you think about that bull shit the priest spat at us towards the end there?” Pete asked, handing Danny the joint.
“I-t-t was bull shit,” Danny said, almost as if it was his own thought. He took a hit of mary-j and passed it back.
“That’s what I am saying!” Pete exclaimed jovially, oblivious to his nephew’s blind recount of Pete’s own words. “What a fucking pissant, that priest! Life with God my ass. Let me tell ya somethin kid, once your dead… NOTHING! Absolutely,” Pete paused to take another hit, “positively,” and another, “NOTHING! Don’t kid yourself, I don’t want my nephew running around like a blind little choir boy sucking his priests cock because he believed him when he said it’d get him into heaven.” Pete became almost oblivious to his nephew’s presence at that point, taking yet another puff before continuing to rant. It became more and more obscure, vulgar, and angry. Danny was as close to the passenger side window as he could’ve gotten. He didn’t speak a word until he realized they weren’t heading the right way to the cemetery.
“U-h-h, Uncle Pete?” Danny interrupted.
“What?!” Pete admonished, annoyed he was pulled from what he envisioned as an insightful diatribe.
“W-w-e aren’t going the right way.”
“Oh kid, why the fuck would we go to the funeral? He’s dead, we get it.” Pete said to an increasingly distressed nephew. “We are goin to a titty bar! Don’t worry, I know a guy to get ya in.” Pete told his nephew, mistaking the meaning of Danny’s distressed look while tossing the burnt out roach out the window. Now we can call him a sinner.
They arrived in short order after that. Like Pete said, it was no problem gaining admittance for his nephew who, upon entering, felt an odd mixture of elation, nervousness, discomfort, and horniness. Danny walked straight away to where one woman was dancing.
“Have an eye for the good ones, don’t ya?” Pete said to his nephew, then looking up at the stripper said, “Here hunny, make it good.” Pete proceeded to stuff a $20 bill into the woman’s thong.
Pete ordered the two of them drinks and continued to rant about how final death truly was. The more he drank the more outlandish and loud his speech became. The people all around them began to take note as Pete’s words began to slur and make less sense.
“Ya see boy – hiq – God’s fat cock just wants to fuck you over – hiq – ya know what I’m sayin?!” Pete said, just before receiving a not so gentle tap on the shoulder.
“Sir, you are leaving,” said the about 6’8”, 270 lbs bouncer staring furiously into Pete’s glazed and enlarged pupils.
“You don’t want to die – hiq – do you?” Pete asked the bouncer. He did not fully understand the situation and persisted upon continuing the hyperbole of his brand of realism.
The bouncer delivered a devastatingly powered right hook upon the side of Pete’s face. The force of it was so great, that it whipped Pete’s hand around with violent velocity. It was so violent in fact, that the whole bar could hear the crack of Pete’s neck as he fell to the floor quite lifeless. 10 seconds later his brain activity ceased.
“Hunny, are you all right?” asked the voice of a very worried and tired wife.
Paul awoke in dramatic fashion, shooting up into a sitting position out of a deep sleep. He sat there and pondered, breathing heavily. It must have been a bad dream, for it seemed to him that his brain activity had been stopped until just this moment. He gave his distressed wife this explanation.
“All right then,” said his wife in response. “Try to get some sleep dear, the cock will crow soon.” She turned over and fell back into sleep.
Paul continued to sit there, perturbed by something. He shook it off and heeded the advice of his loving wife.
To be continued.