Eulogy

Guess I’ve had a few drinks. What the fuck, this is a funeral, right?

Here goes. A few words.

He was my uncle. So, yeah, we had that in common.

When I was a kid, he used to come round to our house every second week, usually on a Saturday. He’d pull up in his shitty old ute, one mismatched hubcap and sharp cracks in the back window, and he’d come in and have a beer with my dad. They’d talk shit and drink beers for an hour or so, and he’d pull on my collar and pat me on the cheek and say, “You’ll be a heartbreaker one day, kid. Mark my words”. Then they’d usher me out, and I’d go in my room and play videogames until I heard the ute’s tires screech off into the distance.

Later, Dad told me the truth. He told me that as soon when I went out of the room, Al would ask him for money. He swore he was good for it, that my dad would have it all back and more. Just give him a few months to get his shit together. He didn’t want to beg. They were brothers, after all.

I wasn’t to tell my mother – she’d never understand. I never told a soul, but what’s the harm in telling it now? They’re all dead, anyway.

What else is there to remember? Oh right, his house.

I only saw it once. Dad was out of town and there was some sort of emergency with Jimmy. Mum had to rush him to the hospital, so there was nobody to pick me up from school. She called Al. I don’t know why – guess she must really have been desperate.

But he came, and he picked me up, and we drove back to his house. The ute smelled like whiskey, and so did the house. It was an old suburban nightmare, right out of the sixties. Crumbling paint and sunflowers on the wallpaper. I couldn’t believe he lived there – it didn’t really feel like him.

But then again, I didn’t really know him at all.

He sat me down and made me take out my homework. He said he had to go out and meet a guy, and he’d be back as soon as he could. Then he made me promise not to leave the living room, not for any reason. Told me not to answer the phone, either. Then he left.

Well, I finished my homework, and I waited. An hour went by and he didn’t come back. I was bored out my mind. So I got up and started looking around, in the kitchen, in the bedroom. Opening things and looking inside. Just curious. The house was almost bare, like a fake house, a movie set. No food in the fridge. Nothing but empty bottles in the cupboards. A knife block in the kitchen, but no knives.

Another half an hour went by, and I needed to use the toilet. I found the bathroom but the door was jammed, or locked maybe. But I really needed to go, so I leaned on it until it popped open.

The room was tiny, white and cold. Cracked white tiles and a dirty toilet. The mirror was triangular, I remember that. I remember thinking there was something kind of wrong about a triangular mirror.

Then I noticed the girl sitting in the barber’s chair. She was blonde and really fair-skinned. Her hair was tied back, and there were straps on her wrists. She was sitting kind of… oddly. Not moving, eyes closed. I guess maybe I thought she was unconscious, or sleeping or something. I didn’t want to disturb her, so I backed out of there and closed the door. I got my homework and I went outside the house, and I waited there until Al came home. I never mentioned a word of it, not to him, not to my mum or dad. I never told anyone about that girl.

Jesus Christ, I’d forgotten her. I’d forgotten her until just now. I don’t know why I’m telling you this…

Okay, no, that’s it. I’m sorry. I’m done. Thanks for listening.

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Xander Bennett rearranges words for fun and profit. Read a preview of his new book at www.cagescomic.com.

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