Last week’s post about Cleveland brought back memories of not only the feisty Bichon but also my redheaded wife Betty. In truth, almost everything from my past reminds me of my late wife. I still miss that gal.
This week, I’d like to return to the word of flash fiction with a little story. Hope you enjoy it.
|Courtesy of Pxhome.com|
Albuquerque’s Episcopal Cathedral of St John overflowed with people both prominent and ordinary—like me. Empty, seemingly without bones or nerves, I squeezed against a back wall and wept silently as a somber pipe organ and tremendous banks of flowers filled the church with oppressive dirges and a cloying redolence that would have appalled Eliot Ross.
A door to the left of the altar opened, and the relatives filed in, led by his blonde ex-wife in figure-hugging black, the epitome of expensive simplicity. Two pretty, yellow-haired young women and a tall, dark youth followed closely, trailed by the extended family. The girls were Eliot’s daughters, but the identity of the trim, graceful young man stumped me until I figured out that he was Eliot’s nephew… the son he’d never had.
Tears streamed down my cheeks during the sophomoric eulogy by Eliot’s brother. God! Were these people blind or just stupid? Eliot had been so much more than a captain of industry and doting family man. He was alive and vibrant and joyful and caring and… loving. Sensing I was drawing unwelcome attention, I made an effort to pull myself together, ineffectually swiping at my tears and resolutely staring into a stained-glass window above the altar until the sunlit colors fractured and swam before my eyes.
The nephew, Ryan Ross, I think his name was, read a passage of scripture in a rich, deep baritone that put me in the mind of a preacher, although I knew him to be a senior at UNM where I was pursuing my Masters.
As a line formed for the viewing, a desperate yearning for a last look at the man I had loved selflessly for the past five years gave way to the knowledge that I was an unwelcome interloper. I stumbled to my car and drove straight to the place of interment to arrive ahead of the pack and locate a vantage point in a thin copse of trees. The freshly dug grave made a hideous scar on the otherwise uniformly green expanse.
Within half an hour, the slow, stately cortege appeared at the gates of Heaven’s Rest Cemetery. Two white limos and a line of Cadillacs, BMW’s, Mercedes, Bentleys, and a host of other luxury cars trailed the huge hearse. The few Fords and Chevys probably belonged to staff. Mercifully, the graveside service was short. As soon as the family moved toward the limos and the crowd thinned, I made my way slowly down the hill and stood at the open pit.
Eliot would have hated the burnished bronze casket. Polished oak would have been his choice. My eyes threatened to fill again. The odor of moist, recently turned earth brought me to the realization this was really happening. Afraid of losing control, I gently released a love poem to flutter like a graceful butterfly into the grave with him. Utterly drained, I turned on my heels and came to an abrupt halt.
A tall young man stood not three feet from me. The nephew… Ryan Ross. He was handsome, as were all the Rosses, but in a totally different way. Dark, saturnine almost, with strange green eyes that contrasted nicely with his ebony hair and coconut-butter complexion.
“I’m Ryan,” he said in a voice sounding so much like Eliot he sent shivers down my back. “You’re Coy Dawes, aren’t you?”
Lifting my head defiantly, I swallowed hard, grateful that tears were not flooding my eyes although my lashes were wet. “Yes.” My voice broke slightly.
“I thought so. I’ve seen you at the U a couple of times. Glad you came.”
Surprised, I could only manage a nod.
“Well, they’re waiting for me, so I’d better run. But I wanted to meet you.” He reached out and took my hand in a firm, masculine grasp. “He loved you, you know.”
“The others don’t understand how Uncle Eliot could love a man.” A gentle smile touched his lips. “But I do. Would it be all right if I called you? You know, after we’ve had time to grieve him in our own way?”
My missing parts returned in a rush: my heart again thudded in my chest, numb extremities regained feeling, my belly took its proper place under the pressure of his warm grip. I felt as if Elio had reached out to me from the grave.
“I’d like that.”
Let me know what you think of the story at email@example.com.
I hate to sound like a broken record, but The City of Rocks is now available. Hope you will show your support by buying a copy. Publishing houses are rather insistent that there be sales before they’ll bring out another of my books. The following provides contact information and the DSP Publications links:
Don Travis Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Facebook: Don Travis
Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-city-of-rocks-don-travis/1126419974
As always, thank for being a reader.