It was a dark and stormy night. the rain poured down in such a cascade, that it looked like a curtain of rain. Flashes of lightning tore through the sky like the arrows of an angry god. The thunder was so loud that it’s roar shook me to my very soul.
This was not a night to be out in the rain, and yet, here I was driving in such weather just to go to a funeral. It was all too ominous for me. I was beginning to wonder why I had agreed to come.
“But you must come, jessie.” pleaded Todd. “You were his only friend.”
“Friend?! All he ever did was pick on me, constantly. We got into fights more that we talked.” I retorted.
“And yet that was all the human contact that he ever engaged in.” replied Todd.
“So, what about you, then. Were you, his friend?” I asked.
“No, I’m his half-brother.” Todd admitted.
This came as a major news flash to me. I know Todd, or at least I thought I did. Todd never let on he had any siblings. As far as everyone knew he was an only child.
“So, what’s the story then Todd. Which one of you was the black sheep? Which one of you was the neglected one?” I queried.
“If you want to know about us. Come to the funeral.” challenged Todd, as he walked away.
So, my own stubborn curiosity has me in my car and out in the rain. Todd’s father’s house was (of all places) out on the coast near the ocean. after four hours of winding black pavement, on a road that I can only describe as creepy. I had arrived.
Todd’s father’s house was a three-story flat. What can I say, it looked like three rectangles stacked atop one another. That’s all. It was white or had been once. Years of wear and neglect had taken their toll on the house. I almost felt sorry for it. I parked my car with the others and went inside before I got too skin soaked.
Todd answered the door.
“You came.” He said with some surprise.
“I hate you.” I replied.
He smirked at me. “Thanks for coming. There’s only four of us here.” He said closing the door.
“Only four?” I questioned. More and more questions began to bubble within my head. “Where’s the rest of the family?”
“You’re looking at me.” Todd announced.
“Then who’s the other two gentlemen?”
“The lawyer and the mortician.”
“Damn. It’s just you, now?” I asked.
“It’s the only reason I wanted you to come. So, I wouldn’t be alone.” said Todd, blankly staring at the coffin.
I thought about how many excuses I had come up with not to come. I thought about how many times I almost turned the car around on my way here. I thought about Todd being all alone here. now I was glad that I came.
“Um, so now what?” I asked, feeling very awkward.
“Nothing. No elegy. No wake. They’re just going to bury him now.” informed Todd.
“Where?” I asked. “Here?”
“Yes. There is a cave beneath this house. Generations of Garrons are buried here.”
I shuddered. To think, beneath my feet, at this very moment, are generations of Garrons. Rotting corpses that were at rest and now one more would join them.
“Excuse me.” called a voice. “Are you miss jessie O’Conner?”
“I’m Mr. Wright, the lawyer. This letter is for you.” He handed me a sealed letter.
I took the letter, opened it, and read it.
If you are reading this, I’m dead. enclosed is a check for $10,000 dollars.”
I pulled the check out and my jaw did really drop. It was for real. Drawn on a real bank, with my name and my account number already on it. But what was this for. All Tomas and I ever did was fight. We weren’t friends at all. I continued reading the letter.
“I want to apologize about always picking on you. I figured that this was the best way to do it. You see I was diagnosed with a terminal disease. Everybody either ignored me or treated me like a creature to be pitied. But not you. You always treated me like any of your other friends. You even once smiled at me and asked how I was doing.”
I did? that must have been before I got to know him. I reflected.
“I know all we ever did was fight, but that was after I got sick. After that I was mad at everyone. I mean it wasn’t fair. Why should I inherit this disease? I’m only a half-brother anyway.
But while I lay in the hospital, I began to remember when we first met. I was being beat up for being the new kid, and you rescued me. You punched jimmy’s lights out. And I remembered the time we went trick or treating and you took the blame for the fire. It really was an accident. I didn’t mean any harm. Things just got out of hand. But you took the blame, so my father wouldn’t beat me again. You were the only one who knew how father would beat us. Todd and me.
Then I began to realize something. I wasn’t so mad about being sick, I was really mad about the fact that if I died… I would never be around you anymore. I miss you a lot. Thank you for coming to my funeral to say goodbye. I don’t know if I should tell you, but I might as well and get it all out.
I love you.
I think I always did. I think that by always fighting with you; that if I hated you, I would feel so bad about losing you, cause I’d know that you hated my guts. Some excuse huh. well…that’s all. I’m getting tired now and can’t write anymore. Goodbye Jessie and thanks for being my friend.
I sniffed. I hadn’t realized it, but I was crying. I was crying because I remembered everything now. My fighting with Tomas and always being mad had made me forget the good times. I was crying because I had just lost a friend.
“Jessie.” called Todd. “It’s time. Will you help carry him?”
I placed my hand upon Tomas’ coffin.
“Goodbye Tomas and thanks for being my friend.” I spoke quietly, through my tears. I turned to Todd. “I would be an honor to carry him.”
The four of us lifted Tomas’ coffin upon our shoulders and walked out of the house. The rain had stopped. The clouds were gone. It was a clear and starry night. As we crossed the sands to the cove, I looked out across the sea. It was beautiful, calm, and serine. The tide rolled silently in; the tide rolled silently out. Life went on, never ending like the tide. Only now, Tomas wasn’t part of it anymore. My heart felt heavy within me. The tears fell on their own. I couldn’t stop them anymore.
Ahead of us was the mouth of a small cave. Its stairs lead down into the earth; down to the resting place of the garrons. The sound of the tide echoed against the walls as we descended. Torches lit our path as we walked. Finally, we came to the place that was to be his last. The lawyer and the mortician slid Todd’s coffin into its place. A hole that had been carved into the wall. As they secured his coffin, I looked around. On every wall, there were such holes carved, and each one was filled; all but one. As Todd wrote Tomas’ name upon the wall, I went over and touched the empty niche. It was cold and wet and without care as to who was placed here inside him. Suddenly, I felt a hand upon my shoulder. I turned and looked at Todd.
“This is my place when my time comes.” He informed me.
“Todd, are you sick too?” I asked quietly. I hoped that he was not, but I think I already knew the answer.
At first, Todd didn’t answer me; but then he spoke.
“I have another favor to ask of you.”
“Anything.” I said. And I meant it.
“There are no Garrons left to bury me. Will you…?”
I hugged Todd hard as hard as I could. As if I was trying to give him my strength as if I could will it not to happen. He placed his arms around me and hugged me back.
“Will you bury me here, with the others, beside my brother?” He asked softly.
“If you die, I swear I will. But you won’t Todd, you won’t…”
“I will, Jessie.” Todd corrected me. “I’m sick too.”
I couldn’t hold it back anymore. I began to sob. I didn’t want Tomas to die. I didn’t want Todd to die. But there wasn’t a damn thing I could do. I cried until I could feel Todd’s tear-soaked shirt against my face. Then he let me go.
“Come on. It’s time to leave.” He said, taking my hand.
As he led me back up the stairs, I looked back one last time. One last goodbye for Tomas. One last look at Todd’s niche. I stayed with Todd all night. We sat together in his father’s Lazy Boy staring at the TV, not caring what shows were on. We fell asleep in each other’s arms. But only one of us awoke next morning.