Out like a limo

March 31, 2010

Joe leaned up against his headboard. He sipped a beer and typed on his laptop:

Yo Todd,

Great talking to you on dad’s birthday. You’ve really got that military look down. Not sure I could pull it off, not that buzz-do on top o’ yo head. Mom tried to use the old clippers on dad today before they went to a funeral. LOL.

Marble grave markers studded the grassy slope. Audrey held the hood of her raincoat snug around her chin as she and Joe walked slowly uphill. Umbrellas moved in step ahead of them.

Perchance you’re wondering why I came back here. You should’ve seen the look on mom’s face when I rolled in the driveway. It was worth it just for that. I don’t know, bro. I guess I needed a little home time, and my bus is almost DOA. The vehicle situation around here is pretty bad in general. Dad’s truck got keyed a couple of days before I got here, and Evan is making noises about driving. Going to be insane.

A black limousine stopped at the top of the hill next to the mausoleum. The family—surely the family, somber in every detail—got out. One was a teenage boy, about Evan’s age. Audrey and Joe nodded to them as they reached the gathering area.

News flash—Evan has a girlfriend. She’s seriously cute but very short. Kidding—she’s in a wheelchair. She was in some kind of accident when she was little. He’s all nervous about bringing her home to meet the folks, but if he doesn’t do it soon, I’m pretty sure somebody’s going to do it for him. Somebody might have to send them a singing telegram.

The mourners finished the second verse of  “Amazing Grace” using the words in the printed program. As a few of them shared thoughts and memories of Debra, Audrey looked more troubled than sad. She whispered to Joe, “Either I didn’t know her or they didn’t,” and she raised her hand to speak.

I don’t know, dude. It’s good being home, but it’s tense too. They’ve got me cooking and doing a lot of gardening around here, which is cool I guess, but dad’s into blaming me for things like running out of coffee and beer, and I have to pay rent. Like, what? But I’ve got plenty of time to write, and mom is pretty cool about helping me with that—have you read her movie reviews? They’re online, dude. She’s all over dad’s case to get a colonoscopy now, which he should’ve done ten years ago, because this friend of hers just died of colon cancer.

The clouds had broken by the time Audrey and Joe drove away in the truck. They had decided to skip the reception.

Of course he’s all over her case because she hasn’t produced his birthday present. Yesterday he said he thought she was just yanking his chain because all she gave him was a shirt. Now she’s threatening to cancel whatever awesome thing is on backorder, and I’ll bet she hasn’t said two words to him all day.

Audrey and Joe stood in the kitchen, hugging tightly.

I do not want to be here when they get back. See ya, dude. Time’s a-wastin’.

Joe hit ‘Send.’

©2010 Pam Wells


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