"We gather together today to commit Jess Liddle to his final resting place beside his true love, Paul V.--"
Wings flapped. A dove launched skyward. I looked to the boy charged with minding the cages. His eyes followed the bird. I'd tried to tell his parents this was a Bad Idea. There's something wrong with that boy.
I cleared my throat.
"We gather to comfort each other in our grief and to honor the life Jess led. A life full of happiness, laughter, hope--"
The boy released another dove. Watch what you're doing! I wanted to yell. Take control of your kid!
"Jess lived his life as an example, that love is an action, not a certificate. That giving of ourselves to each other pleases our Lord."
Another damned bird. How many doves did the family purchase? What did the invoice say?
"Other faiths might not honor Jess's passing. Others would spurn his lifestyle, or protest his burial in this sacred plot. We are not like them, my friends. We are the true children of God. Tolerance forms the cornerstone of our faith. I shall now read a passage from Second Corinth--"
Two birds clapped upward, their paths twining and twinning.
My notes crumpled within my curling fists. Dear God, what have I done to deserve this? I glared at the kid. His upward gaze held a fascination that went beyond bird watching. I wanted to wrap my hands around his throat and wring his neck.
Around the open grave, people shifted, looking up, looking around. Wrinkled faces, worried eyes, pained expressions. Football starts at 1:00.
I stuffed my notes into a pocket. I closed the Holy Bible.
"Jess," I said. "May the road rise to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, and the rains fall soft--"
Cage doors rattled. A fluttering mayhem began. Birds everywhere, swooping, twittering, clawing for the sky. A funeral wreath dislodged and rolled into the grave. Feathers spiraled down. Bird shit splattered the coffin lid.
"May God hold you in the palm of His hand," I said through clenched teeth. The little fucker.
published 9 November 2011