Piped notes already filling the space, Samuel eased himself into the back row. Hesitant voices launched into ‘Morning has broken’.
Samuel could hear Jack’s voice, “Me! Morning has broken me!” This would be after a night of martinis and music in the tiny flat. Samuel would turn the music off at about three thirty and they’d have two quiet hours before the rumble of trains punctuated sleep.
Jack always protested when the music went off. “Not everyone is as big a fan of disco as we are, darling,” Samuel would say.
The priest was standing now, solemn and yet curiously officious. “Gerald, beloved husband…”. ‘Gerald’. He’d never been Gerald. At least not to Samuel, he hadn’t. Gerald was an old man’s name. Jack had something more rakish about it. Much more fitting.
“…beloved husband of Maureen.” Samuel gulped rather more loudly than he should.
The purple rinse in front of him glanced over her shoulder. One of the ‘funeral regulars’ Jack had told him about. “They bring sandwiches and everything. It’s a day out with a sip of wine thrown in. What’s not to like?”
Samuel had laughed. They’d often discussed funerals, death, life, love. Everything, they’d discussed everything. But in the abstract. Why hadn’t they pinned down what was going to happen? They’d just thought the martinis and music would go on forever. Ridiculous, really, when they were both galloping toward a full four score years.
“Maureen always thought she’d go at three score years and ten,” Jack had said. She hadn’t, though. And there she sat now, presiding over the last moments of her ‘beloved husband’. A husband whom she’d not lived with for forty-five years. A husband whom she’d never released from his financial and legal obligations. But a husband, nevertheless, and when she went to ‘meet her Maker’, she could hold her head up and say that she’d kept the ‘til death do us part’ bit of the marriage vows.
The priest had moved on. “In the name of the Father…”. Samuel heard Jack’s voice again, “Spectacles, Testicles, Wallet and Watch. That’s how we were taught to make the sign of the cross.” He’d been standing at the end of the bed, dressed only in a tie.
“How do you know where to point because at the moment, I can only see one of the four? Well, two.” Samuel had smiled and taken another sip of martini.
In the back row, he gulped again. Another look from the blue rinse. This time it was more of a glare. Samuel picked up his fedora. Jack had told him that men were never supposed to wear hats in church. It was disrespectful. He’d also said, “You look bloody gorgeous in that hat.” That was only three weeks ago. Samuel put his hat on and left the church, letting the door bang on Gerald.
He walked through the dusk into town. The Queen’s Arms was almost empty. “Martini, please.” Jack’s voice rang in his head. “Actually, make that two.”
R. J. Kinnarney is trying to make sense of their tiny corner of the world, through tiny pieces of writing and lots of reading. Work can be found at 100 Words of Solitude, Funny Pearls, Daunt Books, CaféLit; soon to be at The Hungry Ghost, Dwelling Literary and Pure Slush. rjkinnarney.com@rjkinnarney