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NATCHITOCHES FUNERAL BY SAUL LEMEROND

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June 22, 2019
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June 27, 2019

 

Natchitoches Funeral

My boss’s funeral has been long, and apparently, the diamond he’s supposed to be buried with is missing. My mother’s been dead for years, and I never knew my father.

“I couldn’t find it,” the boss’s son, the new boss, whispers to me. He thinks his sister has it. I know because he’s told me several times.

There’s something about the old boss in this state, so stoic, so resting nobly in front of the altar, that I find incredibly attractive.

“I wish I could bring myself to weep,” my new boss says. “But dad always said tears were the refuge of weak constitutions and malingerists.”

Presumably, he’s angry and clenching his fists because he thinks his sister stole his father’s diamond.

“I don’t think you have a weak constitution,” I tell him, liltingly, because I’m distracted by the dead, old man and because I believe the son’s been embezzling for years, like the rest of the executive staff.

He looks up toward his sister who’s been eulogizing for over twenty minutes, and says, “I wish she was in that coffin.”

I don’t. I feel an intense, masculine energy radiating from the old boss’s corpse, and I want it. Whatever it is, I want it.

For a second, I think I hear my mother calling, but she’s not here. The old boss is.

“I can’t believe he’s not with us anymore,” the old boss’s daughter says again, for a fifth time, still eulogizing.

At least she had a father. Mine left before I can remember and could be alive or dead. I couldn’t know. What’s inside the old boss, though, I can know. I find myself standing up and walking toward him, up the center aisle, because he’s oozing stately, manly, vibrations that I know can fill the emptiness inside me left from the absence of anything my father might have meant to me.

The sister stops her eulogy. “What are you doing?” She asks.

Everyone turns their heads.

“Your father,” I say, “I’m going to go inside him.”

The crowd gasps.

The old boss’s son, the new boss, stands up, pointing at his sister, “She did it!” He yells. “She stole our father’s diamond! She’s dirty! She’s a jezebel!”

The sister’s mouth drops open. “Lies,” she hisses.

The crowd gasps again.

I run past the sister and jump up into the casket, straddling the old man, his dead features potent and virile. Then I rip open his chest. Inside, I see a distant, nuclear green light and hear the thump, thump, thump of dance music and am knocked over by people marching right out of the boss. Right out of his chest. These people wear jester masks with puffy purple, green, and gold costumes, and I know it’s a Marti Gras parade as they come out, dancing, followed by a color guard of expert skill and then a marching band, also of expert skill, and then a Krewe de Bacchus float that’s shaped like a dazzeling street car and everyone in the the nave cheers and dives through the air and onto the floor trying to catch the beads and coins thrown out by the passing Krewe.  Last out is an alligator that walks on two legs and carries one of those giant wooden mallets you see at carnivals. Once free, the nuclear-green light rushes out from deep within the chest in a beam that cuts a hole in the ceiling, so everyone can see the sky above.

Fireworks burst against the night stars. Mother’s calls voice again, but I know she’s not here.

The indominable, vigorous, and handsome nuclear-green light invites me with its warmth and potency. I’m memorized, and the alligator, she joyously smashes the heads of company executives; one head, two head, three head, four, until finally she brings down her mallet, and there’s a diamond where the old boss’s son, the new boss, there’s a diamond where his head used to be. It’s the size of a grapefruit and the alligator lifts it high yelling, “I found it! I found the grapefruit diamond! I found it! The! Grape! Fruit! Diamond!” She shows it off to everyone shouting, “It has power! You have none!”

“Give it to me!” The old, new boss’s sister pleads.

“Give it to me!” Pleads the new, new boss, who is the old boss’s younger brother and the old, old boss’s second son.

The crowd chants, “Give it! Give it! Give it! Give it!”

And while the Alligator throws the diamond up in the air where it hangs for a moment, like a brilliant and hypnotic disco ball, I’m climbing inside the chest of this man I’ve come to love, the old, old boss.

I float in absolute, accepting, green radiance. It seeps deep between my eyes and every other crack, fissure, and hollow. Against the green I see my mother watch my father leave out the front door. I see her locking the latch behind him. I see my mother showing me how to sweep and wash the floors, to take out the trash, making sure to lid’s attached, to open a checking account, to save money, to drive a car, to pay bills, to use my phone to figure out how to fix broken pipes and electrical outlets. I see her giving me permission to defend myself when I need to and not when I don’t. I see her telling me it’s alright to cry, but not to give up. I see her go off to work and come back and go off and come back and go off again. I see her telling me this is what it’s like to be proud, to take care of the things you love. I see her…

 


Saul Lemerond lives in Madison, Indiana. His book Kayfabe and Other Stories was published by One Wet Shoe Press in 2013. His poetry, non-fiction, and short stories have also been published in Gigantic Sequins, Word Riot, Ink & Coda, and elsewhere. He was a finalist for the Conium Review Innovative Short Fiction Contest and the Gigantic Sequins Flash Fiction Contest.