Another funeral passed uneventfully. Randy sat next to Nora again. As Pastor Bob droned on and the old people all around her began to drift off, Nora leaned closer to Randy and asked in a low whisper, “Is he a real pastor?”
Randy looked up from his phone. “What, Pastor Bob? Yeah, I would think so. His name is Pastor Bob, so that would kind of indicate… Nora, are you still worried about the so-called strange goings on around here?”
“They’re old. They die.”
“Not without getting sick.”
“Have you ever heard of dying of old age? I mean, they go peacefully in their sleep. It’s how anyone would want to go.”
They sat and listened to Pastor Bob drone on about God and Jesus and Mary and sins and stuff for a while longer. Mr. Hoominz next to Nora did a long, snorty drawn-out inhalation and then his chin dropped to his chest, where his arms were folded across his wide belly.
“Wouldn’t you?” asked Randy.
Want to go in her sleep? Nora had never really thought about how she would want to go. Everyone has to go at some point, but if you have to spend the last several years of your life alone, wondering if your son will be bothered to come to your funeral, with nobody but a bunch of senile octogenarians and a fake mortician who teaches watercolour painting and does cut and dye jobs on the side to talk to, it somehow didn’t seem worth it to go peacefully in one’s sleep. Give her a bombing at a crazy all-night rave, or a plane crash on the last leg of a round-the-world trip; Nora suddenly realized that there was so, so much more to life than what these people were experiencing. And who knew; maybe they’d had their raves and their trips, but now they couldn’t even remember that someone was dead for the twenty-four hours it took to prepare the funeral arrangements, so how could they remember the high points of their lives? No, alone in bed with nobody to talk to and no recollection of the past eighty years of life was not how she wanted to go, no matter how peacefully. Nora shook her head slowly from side to side.
“No,” she whispered. “And I think they deserve better.”
“Drop it, Nora. Or you’ll only end up making things worse for everybody.”
Well, Randy might have been a chicken shit, but Nora was not.