Reluctant Goodbye (Flash Fiction #29)

As soon as the light on my dash came on, all I could hear were my mother’s words from yesterday echoing in my head…

”Do you have enough gas in your tank? You don’t want to run out of gas on the way to bury your father, do you?”

I laughed. But as my 92′ Buick choked over to the side of the road, I realized that one phrase summed up my life…Do you have enough gas in your tank?

“Well you’ll be in the car with me, so if I do run out, you can help me push,” I responded, trying to keep the moment light.

She slowly lowered her coffee cup and smacked her lips. “Why in the world would I want to go to my ex-husband’s funeral? I haven’t talked to that man in probably ten years. Sorry honey, you’ll need to go alone.”

And so I was…alone. Steering out of the way of the funeral procession. Up ahead, the local police escort slowly slipped away from me.

Of course I forgot to get gas in the car. Maybe in some deep psycho analysis of things, I did it intentionally. I knew I was supposed to want to go to my father’s funeral, but in all honesty the man was not a good father, or really a good person for that matter. But everyone said I would want closure, that I needed the opportunity to say goodbye. Fate seemed to be saying the opposite as the air conditioner coughed it’s last cool breath and the car officially died.

Out the window to my left, my Uncle Mike’s car passed, full of family. My nephew Jimmy’s face pressed against the window as Mike’s wife gave me a ‘what are you doing look’.  Of course, Mike didn’t slow down. Neither did his sister Tammy and her family as they drove by.

Who finally stopped?  The guy driving the hearse.

He rolled the passenger window down, the black drivers hat perfectly placed on his bald head. In the two seconds I hesitated, the line of cars behind him came a complete stand still. I finally rolled my window down.

“Looks like you could use a lift?” he said with a grin. How could he not grin?

“That’s an understatement,” I replied. Something inside told me I was going to be riding to my father’s funeral in the same car that carried his dead body. There was no need to fight it. Providence.

I grabbed my jacket off the seat next to me before the driver said, “Hop in. I’ll give you a lift.”

I plopped down in the impeccably clean, extended Lincoln. It didn’t feel like a car that carried death – shiny upholstery, glistening chrome, it even smelled nice – but I was certainly uncomfortable.

“Don’t worry,” the driver said, ascending quietly to the proper processional speed of 25 miles per hour. “You’d be surprised how often something like this happens.”

I laughed, trying to make sense of it, but I didn’t believe him. It didn’t matter. My father used to say all the time, ‘Over my dead body.’

I could officially take him up on his word.

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