Burke ran his fingers through his hair to clear the strands from his eyes. His heavy eyes looked over the parking lot of Flannery’s Funeral Parlor. Miles was to his right and breathing heavily from the few minutes of walking that they had endured. In front of the parlor were your average set of mourners. Many middle-aged to elderly men and women, dressed in black, slowly getting out of cars and touching each other on the shoulder. A shoulder touch here and a shoulder touch there, followed by a nod answered with another nod.
The younger mourners, mostly dressed in black were gathered around the white benches that surrounded the semi-circled entrance. Clouds of smoke escaped their lungs as they were more boisterous and awkward in their greetings to one another. Rather than grabbing each other’s shoulders, they would grab their own elbows and hold their cigarettes high in the air and smile. They would join the middle-aged and elderly in the ritual of the head nods.
Burke looked at Miles. Miles looked at Burke. Burke lit a cigarette. Miles lit a cigarette.
“Are you ready?” asked Burke.
“No,” replied Miles.
“Me neither,” said Burke.
“Let’s get the hell out of here,” Miles said.
“We can’t just go now.”
“Why can’t we?” Miles asked.
“I have no idea.”
“This shit is kind of creeping me out,” Miles said.
“Why?” asked Burke.
“What do you mean why?” he said.
“What I just said why. Why?” said Burke.
“What do you mean?” asked Miles.
“Seriously?” asked Miles.
“Yes, seriously,” said Burke.
“I don’t know.”
“How don’t you know?”
“I don’t know.”
“How can you not know?” asked Burke.
“I just don’t. It’s fucking creepy, dude,” said Miles.
“Of course it’s creepy. It’s a funeral.”
“Exactly! That’s my whole point. There’s dead people in there and shit,” said Miles.
“Right. Now you know why I got high.”
“That would be making me freak out even more,” said Miles.
“It’s actually pretty relaxing. Anyway, we’re here to pay our respects,” Burke said.
“What does that mean, pay respects? What can that possibly mean? Why the hell should I respect her? She didn’t respect us.”
“Dude,” Burke said.
“Seriously. You’re asking me to pay respects to someone who slashed her wrists open. I think that’s kind of ironic, don’t you?”
“You have a problem, Miles?”
“I don’t think I really have a problem. I just find the notion of paying someone respect a little bit of bullshit. Maybe if you phrased it a little bit differently. Maybe, like, we’re here to support her family. Or maybe, like, we’re here to honor her memory. Even that is a little bit bullshit, but I can take that a little bit better than paying her respect.”
“Alright, alright. We’re here to support her family and honor the fact that at one time she was important to me. And, you, as my best friend, can be here to support me,” Burke said while looking at Miles intently. Miles looked back at him and took a big drag off his cigarette and tossed the butt and exhaled in Miles direction.
“See. That I can live with. It’s still creepy as shit, but I will support you. I feel a little over dressed, maybe, in my NOFX t-shirt, but these b-holes will just have to deal with my fashion sense,” Miles said.
“I think you look magnificent,” Burke said.
“I think you look like an asshole,” Miles retorted.
“You’re such a support for me.”
“I know,” Miles said.
“I you ready this time?” Burke asked.
“No. Can we have another cigarette?” Miles asked.
“No. Let’s go,” Burke said while grabbing Miles arm.
They walked slowly towards the co-mingled mourners gathered in the semi-circle near the white benches. As they got closer the echoes of generic sentiments rang out.
“Much too young,” said the elderly mourner.
“Such a shame,” said the middle-aged mourner.
“That’s fucked up,” said the younger mourner.
Burke and Miles walked past the co-mingled mourners and up to the white wooden doors with four panes of glass in each door. As Burke reached for the door, the door opened and he was immediately blasted by the smell of carnations and watered down coffee. Miles retreated behind Burke, but was pulled through the threshold and into the essence of florescence and the melancholy of mourning.
Please to enjoy.