book stuff 6

  • Debbie found a good seat at the back and waited on the mourners, assuming there was one.  Finally the cars started showing up with the hearse in the lead.  She wondered if there would be a sermon, often there was.  The casket was a classic black and the pall bearers were sons mostly.  As it happened, Debbie recognized the family, one of the sons was a customer.  He nodded slightly at her as he took his seat and she blinked back.  Their mother took her seat among the boys in the front, no one mentioned her bruised face and arms as they silently took their seats.  Debbie noticed that the man’s family sat on the other side of the isle and avoided eye contact with anyone who wasn’t one of them. 

    “It’s a wonder she didn’t have the old man cremated, it’s cheaper and they are a poor family,” Debbie thought.  “Well, at least I kinda belong here.”

    The speaker was a local preacher, the one of the bunch who made house calls whether you wanted him to or not.

    Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;

    While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain:

    In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened,

    And the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of musick shall be brought low;

    Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets:

    Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern.

    Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.

    13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

    14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

    “Friends, family, we are gathered here to lay to rest Weldon Smith may the Lord bless his soul.  Take heed to what the preacher said in the book of Ecclesiastes.  Solomon lived a full life and was full of wisdom and in no way could such a man as myself add to, or take away from what he learned in his time here on earth.  Weldon was known to be a solid worker and provided for his family, he was beloved by his family and friends.  The best you can do before you die is be in good standing with the Lord……”

    Debbie looked at Weldon’s widow, Grace.  She wondered if Grace was silently crying or relieved that it was over.  During their marriage she’d looked more like she did today than she had gone without bruises.  The boys were strong and there was no slumping in their chairs.  Weldon’s family was somber, many of them with their hands folded.  Officer Brent was there with a bouquet of daffodils in his hands as he quietly listened to a sermon about death and redemption.  Someone else’s death and likely someone else’s redemption.  Debbie didn’t believe Weldon Smith was going to make much of a splash even in hell.

    When the preacher said “Amen,” Weldon’s family made their way back to their cars without a word and the boys each took a handful of dirt and put it on top of the coffin, they were ready to lay this to rest.

    Weldon’s wife had a Bible in her hands and she laid it on top of the coffin and whispered, “It was his.”  She didn’t have a tear in her eyes.  Officer Brent approached her and gave her the bouquet, “This is for you Grace, may he rest in peace and I’m sorry.”  She nodded, this time with tears in her eyes.  Debbie understood.  Sometimes when compassion is hard to find in life, when you find it, it moves you to tears when nothing else will.

    Debbie kept her distance since she’d only had sparse interaction with anyone other than Curtis.  He came over to her, “Thank you for showing up.” He said.

    “What happened?” Debbie asked.

    “He had a heart attack.” He said.

    “I’m sorry to hear that,” Debbie told him.

    “I’m not,” Curtis said, “he was beating mom again at the time.” He held his head high.

    Debbie nodded, “I’m sorry all the same.”

    “Thank you,” he said, then he went and joined the family for the lowering of the casket.

    Debbie stood away from the under a willow tree that was planted in the eighteen hundreds for another customer of the cemetery and watched them lower the casket and then give Weldon Smith back some dirt.  She vaguely wondered if he’d ever meet his maker.  She vaguely wondered if there really was a maker then she heard a crow.  “I recon he will meet his maker then,” she said as she turned and walked away.  Grace would be safe now.  Debbie wondered if Grace had a Bible.

    Debbie slowly made her way back to Rose’s house.  She wasn’t in any hurry so she stopped by to see Smokey.  He answered the door looking a lot more pulled together than he had the last time she saw him.  “Welcome!” He said as he stepped aside to let her in.

    “You cleaned the house!”  She said.  “Did you get the money?”

    “I did.”

    “Smokey, I’m gonna need a couple more, is that okay?”

    “Your wish is my command,” he said as he reached into his hiding place and pulled out a gallon bag.  He sat down on the couch and took the scales from the coffee table and a box of baggies from under the couch.  He began measuring two bags.  “You look nice Deb!” He said.

    “I went to Weldon Smith’s funeral,” she told him.

    “Snarky bastard,” Smokey said, “how’d he go?”

    “Heart attack,” she told him.

    “Was his widow there?”  He glanced up as he asked.

    “Decorated as usual,” Debbie said.

    Smokey had no patience for men like Weldon Smith.  Smokey might have been a lot of things in his life, but he’d never hit a woman.  “There you go,” he handed Debbie the two bags.

    “I forgot, I usually get them in one bag,” She said.

    “Rose just lives up the street,” he said.

    “I think one is gonna be for Curtis, call it intuition.”  She said.

    “Want me to put them together?” He asked.

    “No,” she said as she stashed them in her blouse.  This time she gave him the money up front since she had it.

    “You leave Budweiser at camp?”  Smokey asked.

    “He’s with Rose,” she said, “I better go rescue him before she feeds him too many weiners.”

    “Okay,” Smokey said, “I’ll catch you later.”