Archive for April, 2013

Burying Bernard by Bob Brill

Apr 26 2013 Published by under Stories

After the burial, walking with head bowed through the grove of tombstones, thinking on the eternal verities like ashes to ashes etc., I saw something on the ground that looked like rolled up paper money.

So many times I’ve bent down to pick up a quarter that turned into the foil from a medicine bottle. Still I bent over and picked it up. 32 dollars rolled up in a rubber band, 2 tens, 2 fives, 2 ones.

Was I smiling now? Yes. Could I have shucked my somber mood so easily? Yes again. I was a survivor on my way to a feast, a celebration of my friend’s life, and to top it off I had just received an unearned dividend, 32 bucks that I decided to spend on a wine suitable for the occasion to toast our departed friend.

We left him behind in his coffin, and went on to eat and drink, offer condolences, crack jokes, flirt with the women, and go on savoring life’s many pleasures. At the wake Old Farley got roaring drunk, fell off his stool and cracked his head on the corner of a table. As he rolled in pain someone joked that if he kept doing that there would soon be another wake, another chance for Old Farley’s friends to get drunk.

Next day I woke up with a hangover and a woman in my bed. I had known Marie for years, but we had never done this before. Do not think that we had forgotten about Bernard. He was in our thoughts and whispers the whole time. This was all about the fact that Bernard was dead and we were not.

Only then did I remember that I had forgotten to buy that 32 dollar bottle of wine.

I took Marie out for a sumptuous breakfast. She told me how she had met Bernard. She came into her chiropractor’s waiting room where Bernard sat weeping. “Have you heard?” he cried. “Someone shot John Lennon. He’s dead. Just like that. Blown away.” Marie burst into tears and put her arms around him. They stood there weeping in each other’s arms. After their spinal adjustments they went to his place and made love.

We clinked our coffee cups and toasted Bernard. I told Marie a Bernard story of my own. When we were high school students, all those years ago, drunken Bernard, who almost never drank, drove his friends straight into a tree, slamming shut their song and laughter. His girlfriend died on the spot. He vowed never to drink again, but this resolve morphed into a pledge never to drive when drunk, and this too slid over time into no driving on more than one drink. This much he held to along with his lifelong remorse and ever deepening melancholy. His off-road drinking grew to epic proportions.

After breakfast Marie and I went to a florist shop. I snapped the rubber band off my 32 dollar roll and laid the money on the counter, telling the florist, “We want a 32 dollar bouquet.” We selected flowers till the florist told us we had reached our limit. Then Marie said, “I want Bernard to have these roses too,” and chipped in another 15 dollars.

We took our bouquet to the cemetery to place on the grave. Bernard’s widow, Helen, was there with Bernard’s brother, Ashton, spreading flowers on the grave. She was moved to tears by our gesture and took turns hugging us. I had never hugged her before. I was surprised how her firm slender body and sweet aroma aroused me. I felt a stirring in my groin and broke off the hug before it could become noticeable.

As I watched the two women hug, I flashed on the idea that we could take her home and make love to her. You know, the old tradition of consoling the widow. Custom assigns that role to the dead man’s brother. That would be Ashton, not me, and anyway it was way too soon.

It was a much discussed fact that the wife and the brother had visited Bernard every day in the hospital. It made me wonder if she had been receiving consolation even before she was widowed. It seemed altogether possible that Bernard, aware of his approaching demise, had encouraged them.

I gave Marie a lift home. She invited me in and we went straight to bed. Three months later we were married. As for Helen and Ashton, they waited a decent interval, more than a year, before they married.

Bob Brill is a retired computer programmer and digital artist. He is now devoting his energies to writing fiction and poetry. His novellas, short stories and and more than 100 poems have appeared in more than two dozen online magazines, print journals, and anthologies.

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Manatee Tusk by Pete Stevens

Apr 12 2013 Published by under Stories

John Patrick sat on his sofa and contemplated the tusk. He massaged his kneecaps, sucked his knuckle. The tusk was long, white, and curved. The tusk stabbed straight through his coffee table. Previously, John Patrick learned of how manatees are gaining tusks by means of evolution. Elephants of the sea. There could be no mistake, he thought, this tusk had been sent from the future, a manifestation of evil deeds not yet committed.

Pete Stevens is the Fiction Editor at Squalorly. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Cardinal Sins, The Legendary, 101 Fiction, Eunoia Review, Prime Number, Literary Orphans, and elsewhere. He lives in Bay City, Michigan.

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