Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Funeral (Part One)

Tommy's past wasn't that interesting, so I created one for him. In my version, he did all the same mundane things he actually did, except in my version there was always the possibility of being something more. In my retelling of his past he actually had something special within him that he just hadn't managed to tap into. That is something that was sadly not in his reality.

Tommy wasn't a killer, but that didn't mean that he hadn't wished a lot of people dead. For many of the long hours he would spend behind the wheel of his semi, he would line pick out a spot on the windshield (watermark or bug remnants, no matter) like it was a gun-site, and imagine the dotted line of bullets traveling through the air, eventually finding their home in the heads and chests of passing motorists. He spent at least eight hours a day on the road, and many of them spent playing this game.

He dreamt about it other places too. Standing in line at the bank or at Wendy’s or walking the aisles in the grocery store. He could imagine the sound of bullets on bone and the rapturous roar of the gun in his hands as people ran screaming.

But Tommy had never held, much less owned a gun. He was no real threat. He was just a man bored on the road, and like most of us, wishing he were someone else.

I hadn’t seen him for eight years, but there’s nothing like a funeral to bring family around. We had never been close, so it wasn’t odd for me to stand in the corner and not make the effort to go over and greet him right away. I watched him for awhile as he spoke with the rest of the family that had gathered around upon his arrival.

His suit was a flat new blue that had most likely never even been cleaned before. I checked the wrists for hanging tags. The cut and look of the fabric made me conclude that Wal Mart had started selling suits. A thick linked gold bracelet sparkled out of the cuff of his right sleeve, and the silver of a chunky Timex poked out from under the left. He wore silver cufflinks, and the way he waved his arms about as he spoke told me that he thought they were classy.

I imagined him replaying the afternoon later that night at the hotel bar, thinking to himself that the strangers in the room must have been asking themselves who that sharp dressed fellow with the soul patch and cufflinks was. That guy had something.

When in fact, what Tommy had was a hotel bill being paid for by his sister and a 1997 International with over 900,000 miles on it; A truck that the bank was threatening to track down and take back unless some money exchanged hands quickly.

There was a lull in the conversation, and some of the family members drifted away to speak in smaller circles. I watched Tommy as he ran the palms of his hands down his face. To many, it was a sign of grief; a man wiping away sadness. I knew that it meant he had been drinking, and was not alone in my thoughts.

“Someone got started early,” someone whispered nearby.

I watched quietly as he approached the casket for the first time, crying softly to himself, looking down at his sister. For the first time since his arrival, he wasn’t making a production of his actions. I looked away and gave him privacy.

No comments: