Funeral Story

“Wake up.”

I moaned and curled up into a ball to hide from both the cold New England autumn air and my best friend who was on the other side of the room fiddling with an object on the floor.

“Wake up,” he repeated again and then paused, head down, eyes closed, before kicking the object hard.

The suitcase sailed through our cheap Vermont motel room and smacked into my side.  I grunted, and sighed, but did not move.

“You’re going to make me piss blood.”

The case fell to the ground, spilling its contents across maple flooring.

“Fuck,” Stephan stormed to the mess on the floor, gathered up the essentials, a shaving kit, his wallet, and a small plastic bag full of our drugs “if you want anything of this shit, bring it yourself.  I’ll be in the car, and I’m leaving in exactly three minutes.”

With that, wallet stuffed into the back pocket of too-large gray carpenter pants, he left the room and slammed the door behind him hard enough that the whole room vibrated.  Outside, I heard a car door open and slam, and an engine start.

“Two minutes!”

The sun was not up yet, and a cutting draft snuck between the windowpane and its ill-fitting frame.  Outside, a few late-October snowflakes swirled in lazy cyclones over the asphalt of the parking lot.  I pulled myself up to a sitting position and rubbed my eyes, the tequila from the night before slow to relinquish its hold on my fuzzy brain.  My shoes were at the foot of my bed, and as I bent over to reach for them, I had to fight back a sudden urge to empty the poisoned contents of my stomach all over the floor.

“One minute.”

This is a shitty way to start the day, I thought to myself, as I grabbed the shoes with one hand, and gave the gutted contents of the suitcase a cursory once-over.  Anything I really needed could be lifted from any convenience store or gas station along the way, so I left everything where it was and blearily stepped outside, barefoot and shivering.

“You’ve got ten seconds, mon ami,” headlights flared, “and then you can walk back to Boston for all I care.”

I picked my way carefully over the broken glass that littered the ground, fumbled the door open, and slid into the passenger side seat.

“Your father’s funeral better be worth all this,” I told him through chattering teeth as the car lurched forward.

Stephan clenched a cigarette tightly between pale lips drawn into a half-smile as he spoke in his twangy Quebecois accent, “It will be.  You’ll see.”

We peeled out onto the highway just as the grandmotherly innkeeper and her husband emerged from the office, gawking after us in tired confusion.

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