When I finally arrived at the funeral parlour, the queue stretched out past the building’s walls into the car park. This was going to take ages. I had purposefully left it late because I hated such formal displays of emotion. The men stood in small tight circles, sucking on their cigarettes as if it was the last one they would ever have and the women, mostly with their arms closed, stood in silence.
I joined the end of the queue, silently, by myself. On the way there, I had stopped to see if I could give a few acquaintances a lift, but none seemed to be around. This didn’t stop me taking the extra few seconds at their doors, just to kill time. I really hated funerals, and this one, well, what could I say? The queue moved slowly, it followed the same pattern no matter who had died. The body laid out, with family members nearby to accept condolences.
I dreaded seeing their faces. To have lost their father and sister together: words and a handshake couldn’t fill their emptiness. The elderly couple in front of me murmured to each other, it’s a sad thing, too many cars these days. The logic! As if the cars were to blame. What they really meant, if the truth could be spoken out loud, was fucking idiot, driving drunk with his daughter in the car. Had he not seen the adverts? What made him any better that anyone else? Was he God? No.
It is a pity you can’t put the dead on trial, not even in your thoughts. Everyone thought it, but no one said. So we all stood in the queue silently thinking. Well how could we cast the stone? We had all done it at one time or another, the drink, the nod, the wink, and the car. But I’d never have been that stupid: Sure I have a daughter myself. I’d never drink and drive with her in the car. Not with what happened here at any rate.
By now I was standing at the door, with the top of the coffin in view. The queue had moved faster then I expected. To be sure, I thought, I’d never drink and drive with my daughter, as I took a step forward to the coffin. Then looking in I faced myself.