Today's Reading

So every time I saw another car with its headlights on, I just kept walking, and it turned out all I had to do was walk straight about a mile and down a big hill to York Road, which separates the rich area from people who are really pretty poor, but there are businesses and stuff on the street, because York Road is a big wide street in my city, with plenty of businesses and gas stations.

And a funeral parlor.

When I got to York I stood on the corner. Passing traffic blew up clouds of gritty dust from the street. I spotted Laura's car parked on the side street beside the funeral parlor, which was on the corner right across from me. Her car was easy to spot because it was long and black, and everything else was a junker.

All I did was sort of dart across the street, between buses and cars because the traffic was pretty heavy there, always is. I just slipped through, and I'm sure nobody really saw me.

When I was across, I went up the side street and crouched between Laura's car and this beat-up Toyota behind it. I waited a minute, listening, and when it seemed everything was settled inside the funeral home, I went around front.

The window was crowded with flowers. I looked through. I saw a bunch of people with the usual sort of attitudes. I knew the deal; I'd been to a couple funerals before. Some of the people were crying, a couple women, especially. Most were just standing around. It was a closed coffin—I could see that when the crowd parted. I didn't see Laura; she was buried in the crowd. There were more flowers everywhere and the room was white.

Two men in suits came out front and started smoking cigarettes. I turned and acted like I was waiting for a bus, standing behind this pretty thick telephone pole next to the bus-stop sign. I seriously thought the men didn't see me. I'm actually sure they didn't. But I could hear them pretty clearly, despite the rush of the traffic, because I stood so close.

They talked about what was going on. The actual funeral had been at a church up the road. Just family. This was for everybody else. A kid had died. He'd killed himself. I listened very closely as they talked, and one of them said he'd ridden his skateboard under a bus, on purpose. People had seen him do it. It was some kid I probably didn't know. Some prep school kid Laura must have known; she knows lots of kids.

Hell. I can think of a lot of ways to die, but that's the last way I'd choose.

The people started coming out, carrying flowers to their cars. They were all leaving. I was going to leave too. But the men had mentioned where the burial was going to be. I knew the place, and it wasn't too far.

I didn't really want to go. I mean, this was private, and I'd seen those women in there crying, really crying.

But I had to see her again. Just once more.

So when the bus came I got on it and rode a few miles.

I got off in this neighborhood near downtown, a sort of rough area full of dirty row houses. Rough neighborhoods don't bother me. You walk with your face down, but you always look everywhere. You cross the street if anybody up ahead looks at all threatening. So as not to get stranded, you stay out of alleys and never cross a bridge alone on foot—you find another way around. It's really no problem for me.

I walked until I got to this stone wall, and I went up some stairs. I saw the cars parked in a long line on a gravel road winding through the grass. I saw Laura's car. They were already there.

I stood back for a while, watching. The graveyard was huge, that old famous one on Greenmount Avenue; it's got this big stone church with a really high black steeple. The trees were thick in places, and very green. The grass was very green too. Everything was really quiet and still; all I heard was the traffic away in the street and crows cawing.

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