The widow arrived. She breezed in with two uniformed security guards flanking her like Paris Hilton’s entourage. I don’t think the room actually dropped 10 degrees in temperature, but you wouldn’t have been able to tell without actually watching a thermometer. The poor boy's mom screamed at her, an unintelligible string of words born on a voice of anguish and blame. I had never heard a voice that tormented, and hope never to do so again. The widow was made to wait elsewhere during the Mass, which was a good move on the part of the funeral home. Alas, it would be their last non-dick move of the day, as they were gearing up for a performance of Dick Move in 3 Acts.
The service was long, as any Mass will seem to a non-Catholic. The priest was a good speaker though, and reached out to those in grief with a heartfelt message. I sang along when prompted, my eyes scanning the room and resting on Kit as often as they could. She couldn’t exactly smile at me, but her face softened as her eyes held mine.
I remember a sea of faces, some in tears, some still wearing rage. Eventually, the service ended, and it was time to file out and await the interment, which would be on the grounds. The priest stood by the door, and had some words with each mourner leaving. I ended up behind Half-pint, who grabbed his dick through his shorts with his left hand while shaking the priest’s with his right. “Yo, fatha, that was a good fuckin’ service!” he said, weaving slightly side to side in an early version of swagga. Perhaps I’m way too far out of the hood, but I’ve never understood the protocol of holding one’s junk while greeting another human being, unless you happen to be at either a urinal or an orgy.
For his part, the priest was nonplussed. He made the sign of the cross and said simply “Thank you, my son.” I was impressed, and thought maybe I’d just seen a hint of true grace. I tried to hang on to it as an example for the day.
As we waited for the burial, I held hands with Kit, just being quiet and supporting her. It had begun to rain, and the funeral director informed us that we would go to the mausoleum for the rest of the service, and that they would actually lower the coffin into the ground later that day. This was the ending of Dick Move Act 1, as the widow was allowed back into the group, security in tow—despite their assurances to the bereaved mother (who had just paid them about $10k for their services) that this wouldn’t take place. It was also the set up of the entire Dick Move story, though we couldn’t know it at the time.
We arrived in the mausoleum and, sadly, one of the rent-a-douche security guards ended up directly across from the deceased’s mom. I watched as she stared at the casket, moving her eyes always away from the blue uniform that stood out like a hippo in a tutu.
Still holding Kit’s hand, I slowly crabbed sideways until I was directly in front of the guard, and then backed up a few steps, until I felt my back bump into her. Unless the guard wanted to cause a scene, she had to back up with me. Fortunately, she chose not to cause a further scene, and I backed her right into a potted plant, out of sight of the mother. Kit squeezed my hand in reward for my thoughtful prickitude.
The interment service ended, though without actually putting the casket in the ground. He wanted to be buried next to another friend that had died young, and as we exited, I could see the backhoe at the grave site, sitting idle. I remembered thinking that I’d seen funerals in the rain on the way into the mausoleum, and it struck me as odd that there was no hole for the young man’s mortal coil to be shuffled into.
Obviously, it would have been a crazy enough day had it ended there, but we’re only up to about noon, and there was still a Wake to go to, at the house I’d driven to the night before. I sat with Kit, still not talking about it, just supporting her as best I could under the oh-so-unbelievable circumstances.
The “kids”, including Moe and friends, and the poor dead kid’s little sister and her friends, were watching The Lion King and singing along at the top of their lungs. Enter Kit’s mom, putting her nose again where it didn’t belong. She told the kids if they were gonna yell at the screen like that, they should put in the Rocky Horror Picture Show. And hey, kids, didn’t you know that Danger Boy and Kit were on the cast together, and you can all yell callbacks together? I groaned. This wasn’t going to go well, and I knew it. But no, Kit’s mom would not be detoured from her logic highway to hell, try as we might. I looked around for flying cows.
Kit and I did our best to be entertaining, knowing that everyone was just starting to yell out their pain, even though they were doing it in a silly way, laughing through the tears. Predictably, the room emptied of young men when Frank climbed into bed with Brad, along with the equally predictable cries of “What is this faggot shit you got us watching, Aunt Millie?” Some of them ventured back in, only to flee the room again during the floor show scenes. The movie ended, and things quieted down for a while. Kit took my hand, and asked if we could go for a walk. It was both a good opportunity to finally talk, and a chance to get out of the room before being tasked with cleaning up the rice and toilet paper that had been flung around the room.
We wandered the neighborhood, as she showed me the tip of the iceberg of what she’d been through with the therapist, which conveniently separates to “The Rapist” with just one tap of the space bar. Outwardly, I was calm, like the priest I’d met earlier in the day. Inside, I was a sea of rage. Then she told me something that had happened the night before, and I understood why Moe hated me so much in one glance…he’d tried to get in her pants while she was sleeping.
So, when I showed up, he thought I was cockblocking him. With his cousin. She had avoided his clumsy advances by pretending to sleep, and he’d given up and gone back to sleep himself. I was amazed. Slidell was not showing me anything good yet, and in fact would utterly fail to do so. Irregular condoms, indeed.
We came back from our walk, still holding hands. As we crossed the street, Moe, Jarhead, Half-pint, and two other good ol’ boys I didn’t know surrounded us, and told Kit to keep walking. Knowing a shitty day when I see one, I pushed her toward the house and stood, in the middle of the street, surrounded by five good ol’ boys just fixin’ to play Yankee Pinata. They'd found a target for their grief and anger.
Trebec, I’ll take Things Only I Know for a thousand.
The answer: Danger Boy’s Allergic Reaction to Pain.
What is: I fucking break out in bruises, Alex.
Correct! You keep control of the board…
They fiddle-fucked around with it for a while, asking me questions about the Air Force and trying to push me into saying the Marines sucked, then switching to football, trying to get me to say the Saints sucked: anything to get me to trigger the ass-whoopin’. I knew I was heading to the hospital, so I figured I’d just have to make sure I had some company in the ER. I turned so that Half-pint was at my right arm, planning to use him as a club if the balloon went up.
Moe finally tipped his hand, saying “What are your intentions with Kit?” I could see her face in the kitchen window, as she filled Millie and the rest in on my imminent doom.
“That would be up to her”, I replied, as hard-edged as I could.
“She ain’t gonna be with a yank”, he said.
At that moment, my brain seemed oddly disconnected from me. One part of my mind started a running commentary, asking who wrote this kid’s dialogue, auditioning witty rejoinders, and planning ninja moves. The other part tried to hush up the commentator, because the A-Train to Whoopassville was comin’ on down the track. Even though I nearly laughed, I loosened up, ready for what was surely about to be a very painful next few minutes for somebody, knowing that the most likely somebody was going to be me.
Fortunately, that was the moment that Kit’s aunt came through the door. She is built like an outside linebacker, and had a look on her face as intense as Mike Singletary in the ’85 Super Bowl as she came storming out to the street like a god-damned hurricane, Kit following along like a kite caught in the gale.
“What the fuck are you boys doing? You want a piece of this boy, you’re gonna have to go through me to do it, and I bet I can whip all y’all’s asses!” I was relieved to find I wasn’t going to have my allergic reaction to pain that day, as those boys backed down like they were French.
Needless to say, we didn’t stay much longer. Within an hour, Kit, her parents, and I were digging into some fine dining: the incomparable one-star cuisine at Denny’s, discussing the day. It turned out that Kit’s dad had also twigged to the weirdness of the backhoe, and we decided to go check on the gravesite. We knew that the boy’s mom would be visiting it in the morning, and wanted to let her know if she should delay, if anything were wrong. Hmmm. Maybe one of us had called Miss Cleo after all.
At this point, I have to remind you that we are still on DAY 1 of my trip. First day, gang. We loaded up in the car and headed back to the funeral home, driving through the wide open gates into the graveyard. We pulled up to the site to find that we were playing starring roles in the Dick Move Finale.
There was undisturbed green grass where the deceased was supposed to have been buried. As the girls wailed in grief and bewilderment, a man stepped out of the back of the funeral home, yelling at us that we had to leave right fucking now or he’d call the sheriff, because they were fucking closed (despite the wide open gates), we were fucking trespassing, and he was gonna get his shotgun if we didn’t leave. We piled in the car, and drove right up to the porch, from which he continued to shout threats.
We stepped out, and faced off with him. He kept telling us he’d get his shotgun, and we kept asking why they hadn’t buried the boy. I’d had enough. I felt a chip grow on my shoulder that you could land a Tomcat on. I decided that if he came off the porch, he’d learn a lesson in humility. Fortunately for my clean record, a younger girl came out and fed us a line of bullshit that we swallowed, though Kit’s dad and I shared a look…he shook his head slightly, and I let him make the call. We were leaving, even though we’d just been lied to pretty mightily. They claimed they’d started to bury him but the ground was too soft…which was amazing, considering the nice green grass and the unmoved backhoe.
So ended the first day, as we went back to Kit’s house, called her aunt and let her know she should wait to go to the gravesite, and settled into the couches, pretty well drained from the experience. Kit fell asleep in my arms, and I shared a look with Millie. Without speaking, she seemed to say “Fix her, or I’ll kick your ass.” I nodded, having already resolved myself to do my best.
Kit and I spent every moment together in those two weeks. The boy’s mom got a hefty discount on the funeral costs, which was of course not even a small consolation. Nothing could be. My relationship with my girlfriend did, in fact, end. As much as she felt bad for Kit, my staying there for two weeks was the straw that broke that camel’s back. There were no happy endings in this tale, just raw and bleeding ends, to make way for beginnings.
A twist of Fate would take me back to Kit a few months later, as I had a training duty just a few miles from her. I would find her in much better condition than I had left her, standing strong after the pain. I ended up with her for the duration of a 90 day TDY. That, also, was too short a time...but we had more than a few adventures, some dangerous, in those three months. I haven't talked much with Kit for quite a while, but I do know that Millie doesn't put her nose in her life, and she's got a wonderful family of her own now. Happily, she managed to disconnect the electromagnet.
I normally don’t discuss the "moral" of a story, however, this one was less than comfortable to write, and for that matter to live through. For me, it’s a day of craziness, but I was just an intrusion upon a tragedy. I can talk about the crazy parts, because I was just supporting cast. It’s a time in my life where I was able to help someone. For others, it was pure hell on earth. For all but one of us in the story, we have the advantage of almost two decades of hindsight to look at these events. I hope you laughed where appropriate, but I also hope you remember this:
We hit rock bottom some times. We think we can go no lower. There are two paths taken in this tale of one day, one of hope, one of despair. One path found a good life, one path ended abruptly. Again, I say…if you ever find yourself in this kind of pain…know that it can always get better. Get help. If you ever come across someone in this kind of pain, help them. Be the lifeline that helps them get through it. We can offer each other no greater gift than compassion.