A Eulogy (excerpt)
This is a partial sample of the first page or so of the short story called: A Eulogy...
All he could hear on the way up to the podium was the clicking sound of his heels against the cold marble floor of the church. Loud, cold clicks that he associated with the heartbeat of the man he was and the father he was to eulogize.
The phone rang Sunday afternoon, December 5th, and when he answered it he heard his brother tell him that their father had expired and that someone had to go to the hospital to make arrangements for the body to be removed and sent to a funeral home. His family was at the kitchen table, but he did not remember talking to them, not even talking to his soon-to-be ex-wife who would react very poorly to the demise of the patriarchal figure in her life. He slowly went out the backdoor and got into his car, the same car he would catch his wife riding in with her tennis instructor/lover, and drove to the hospital.
He was familiar with the route. He estimated that he had made this 1.1 mile trip at least 250 times over the past four years. First to visit his father. Then his mother. Then his father again. With a few uncounted trips to see his aging grandmother before she checked in to the Sunny Way Nursing Home in order to recuperate from the stroke, it was easily over two-fifty.
He pulled into the same hospital parking lot that he had pulled into eighteen years before to be present at the birth of his first daughter. He walked in the backdoor of the hospital as if he were an employee returning to work. He knew the way to his father’s deathbed like the back of his hand. Up the elevator, to the right, around the nurses’ station on the left, three doors past the smell of urine, and forty years into the past.
No problem until he got to the door of his dead dad’s room. It was a double room. The heads of the beds were against the left-side wall. The bed closest to the door was empty, with the sheets removed, exposing an unused mattress. The curtain was pulled back, and on the bed table he could see the bedpan and water pitcher. The nurse’s buzzer hung lifeless over the edge of the bedrail. The curtain of the far bed, which had been home for his father for the last several weeks was pulled, shutting out his view of the body. He glanced around the hall but did not see anyone he could stall with, so he stared at the curtain and tried to look through it, to see slowly what he knew he would see all at once.