the old ceremony

25 Jul

jesus what a big fuss they made over this man who was lying dead shrivelling on a table in the middle of the musty parlour. they had stacked make-up on his face which made him look like a foreshortened monarch or an ogre from a Grimm Brothers’ faerie tale. they let the mourners in and immediately two women dressed in black collapsed on the body wailing and weeping and beating with their fists on their own temples.
jesus what a shit of an embarassing spectacle.
when i go i want you to bury me in a goddamn ditch on the outskirts of the city and be done with it, Marian said. i don’t care what happens to me. i don’t want any of this.
the women were wailing but eyeing the wine table and moving around the body in their grief closer to the booze and the food.
goddamn moochers, Marian said.
and he went outside and lit a cigarette.
and what do you want on your epitaph i said.
he spat into the dusty road and covered it up with his boot.
he said.
someone ought to tie fishing gut to one of his wrists and play a fucking practical joke on these mystical grieving zombies. i ever tell you how me and Cezar did that once at a viewing? scared the shit out of the believers when we raised the lady’s arm out of the coffin.
he spat again. and laughed. and took a long drag of the Kent, burning it down by a third.
this is shit. all of it. everyone dies like everyone else has ever died. and then they’re dead.
Marian was the son of a peasant tractor driver who was assigned to a salt mine when he tried forming a union in the village of Buhusi. Marian spoke english and drank Johnnie Walker stolen from foreigners and tourists who brought the booze in order to bribe border officials and other bureaucrats ensconced into the fabric of the country.
fucking bedbugs, all of them, he said.
i didn’t know how to answer that.
let’s go back inside. they have feta and tomatoes and bread and sarmale, he said. let’s get it overwith.
the body lying in state was his father’s. they had found the tractor driver face down on an embankment by the train tracks. his feet and hands had been cut off.

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3 Responses to “the old ceremony”

  1. Michelle Wittle 25/07/2009 at 5:24 PM #

    A very true to life glimpse of a wake. Very descriptive when it called for it and you pulled back when you needed to…nice introduction for me to your work.

    I look forward to reading more from you.

  2. (S)wine 26/07/2009 at 7:25 AM #

    thanks for stopping by. i think you’ll find a ton of diverse stuff if you rummage through the archives here.

    i tend to write in a very restrained, economical way. i realise there’s no time for people to dilly dally with Dickensian type prose and Tolstoi-like length.

  3. mwittle 27/07/2009 at 3:48 PM #

    I hate people who ramble on and on about what a chair looked like or the smell of someone’s skin…I say give me the facts. I am smart enough to let my own mind fill in the blanks.

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