Saturday, May 28, 2022

Awake at a Wake - in which four people sharing a long history find themselves in a funeral parlor -


Awake at a Wake

Jason:  You think this is what Heaven smells like?

Job:  What?

Jason:  This. All this. Jason said, pointing around the small funeral home.

Job:  No, dumbass.  This is what a telephone pole at 80 miles an hour smells like. Jesus, the shit you say.

Jason:  I’m just wondering, that’s all.

Job:  Wonder harder ‘cause I doubt anyone here is goin’ to find out.

Jason:  That ain’t a nice thing to say, Job. You don’t know that.

Job:  I know lots. That’s the problem.

Jason:  You didn’t know Jacob or them people was goin’ to die.

Job:  Nope. That I did not. I would have driven to his house and rung his neck if I did. It ain’t right. It just ain’t right.

Jason:  It ain’t. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that.

Job:  sigh… Don’t apologize for being human. Apologize for something you can control.

Jason:  I can control my mouth.

Job:  I stand by my previous statement.

Jason:  Do you think he sees us? looking up All sitting here talking about him and what happened?

Job:  I hope so. I hope he hears every word and thought not fit for polite company.

Jason:  He was our friend, Job. He wasn’t perfect, like anyone. He saved your…

Job:  Shut up.

Jason:  I’m just saying maybe we should…

Job:  I know what you’re saying and shut it up. Ain’t nothing he did for me or the fucking Pope on the moon makes up for what happened.

Job looks down

Job:  You hear me, Jacob? Your soul didn’t have the bank to pay for what you did, selfish bastard. You goddamn selfish bastard!

Jason:  Keep it down. People are looking.

Job:  Are they? Are they looking? Good ‘cause I got a goddamn mirror for every one of them. I’m not playing the game, Jacob! Flowers and a box ain’t enough. Carry your own ass to the hole. I ain’t doing it.

The people looked at Job. Job looked back. They both turned away.

Job:  It ain’t right.

Jason:  Nothing ever is.

Job:  That’s a goddamn lie.

A moment disguised as silence slipped past them. Almost. Job raised his head against the weight of a shadow falling against him.

Job:  Christ’s balls, just perfect.

Mary:  There’s the man I married.

Job:  The best three weeks of your life, Mary. What are you doing here?

Mary:  Why does anyone go to a funeral, Job. As for you, I followed the looks of disappointment. Poof. There you were. Constant as the NorthStar.

Jason stands.

Jason:  It’s been a while, Mare, you look good, real good. Here, take my seat.

Mary:  Thank you, Jason. I think I will. While you’re up, be a darling and get me a glass of water? I think I saw a cooler when I first came in.

Jason:  Sure. Sure.

Off he went.

Mary:  How are you, Job?

Job:  ...Bad…Messed up…Little pieces are bouncing around in my head and I can’t tell where they belong. Forgive the honest answer.

Mary:  I’ll let it go this time.

A small piece of chuckle escapes his mouth.

Mary:  You know you’re not the only reason I came, but I will leave your side if you want.   

Job:  No, I don’t want that. Do you?

Mary:  No.

Job:  Well, we were able to make a funeral about us so I guess not all is lost, eh?

An interruption.

Jason:  I’m real sorry, Mare, but I couldn’t find ya the water. Maybe you…

Mary:  Did you ask one of the attendants? Oh, I’m sure I saw a water cooler or someone carrying a cup. Maybe in a room I passed. I know you won’t let me down, Jason.

Jason:  I’ll get you fixed up, Mare. Don’t you worry none. Just like old times, huh? Sit tight, I’ll be right back.

Job looks at her.

Mary:  He brings it out in me. Never could figure why.

Job:  Too sweet. A little goes a long way…to the point of aversion.

Mary:  What do you suppose he did to deserve us?

Job:  Must have been bad, whatever it was. Really. Bad.

Mary:  All this honesty, my dear. It’s too attractive for a place like this.

Job:  No better place for honesty, a business of the dead. sigh Very clever, Mary. I see your game. Oh yes. Still quicker than a snake to the strike. And if I don’t want to talk about it, huh? What if I don’t want to talk about it at all? You two. I’d smell conspiracy if I didn’t know better.

Mary:  True. He cares, I just know you. That’s much worse. So, I know you’ve been talking and thinking about nothing else. You’re hurt. You’re looking to bloody anyone who isn’t lying in that closed box.

Job:  Don’t tell me what I am doing!

He glances up and at those close enough to be glanced at. Then back to her. Lowly he speaks. At first…

Job:  Damn you for thinking I need this right now. I don’t need pulling apart when I am holding on with my fucking fingernails. Damn you. HE DID WHAT HE DID BECAUSE HE WANTED TO AND HE DIDN’T HAVE THE FUCKING DECENCY TO MAKE SURE HE DIED ALONE! Unintended consequences. Unintended consequences be damned. A label makes it normal like a candy wrapper, does it?  Jesus above and below, those poor people. Damn you, Jacob. You should have known better. Damn you…You were better enough to know.

She leans in wrapping her arms around him. He stares unmoving at his hands. She feels low tremors deep within the statue. Seeds of tears. Stone stepping toward flesh. She looks at him. He at her. He sighs.

Jason:  I got your water, Mare. Cold like ya like. Searched high and low until I found it in the middle, like they say. Here. Oh. Did I miss something?

She leans back into her seat. Picks just the perfect smile.

Mary:  My angel in the wastelands. Thank you.

She takes the cup, sips, and sets it down.

Mary:  There are a few others I haven’t said my condolences to yet. It was nice seeing you, Jason. She stands. It’s nice seeing you, Job.

Jason:  It is nice seeing you, Mary. Say, do you still need to eat?

Mary:  I still have the need, yes.

Job:  I’ll find you before you go.

Mary:  …Good.

She walks away.

Jason:  Be seeing ya, Mare! See? You didn’t know that was going to happen. Ain’t that something. What if you two got back together? Don’t look at me that way. I’m saying what-if, not a step more. Still. Makes you wonder how an ‘if’ that wasn’t, suddenly was. Invisible hands and invisible strings, as they say. We should eat at that Italian place on Margaret Street Jacob liked. It’d be like a, ya know, soothing balm. Us in body and Jacob in spirit. All together again and all is well with the world like nothing happened.

Job plucks each word from the air placing them on a scale. It tips.

Job:  Jason my old friend, next time you cross the street? Don’t bother to look.

An End



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