The Gray Ghost
by Beth Ostrander
The realization the last buffer between him and death is gone.. Shit, what’s he even doing at a funeral with all this death on display? Hell, death’s the star of the show here.
He stops halfway up the aisle, then half runs to a seat in the back, keeping his head down. This big, hulking man is reduced to a sobbing, shaking mass of nothing. He knows he’s the last brother left. He’s the spitting image of your dad. Seeing him is like seeing your dad alive, except for all that fear.
More people come stinking of body order and bad breath. The worse they smell, the closer they get.
Fat Aunt Mary who doesn’t bathe. Smells like she was boiled in sweat and onions. Of course, she grabs right on you and won’t let go. You can’t believe one person can smell this bad. This is what China smells like. You hate this dumb pile of flesh and her crazy-ass husband standing right behind her. Gawking. Waiting his turn. Hair standing straight up off his head like he just got a good whiff of his wife. He’s running some bullshit speech on your mom.
Something like, He’s better off now. All the alive people say that.
When Mary releases, you feel blessed.
Your father’s shell only a few feet away from you in that box made to look like his last motorcycle, the Gray Ghost. No open country roads here, Dad. Just peach Crayola crayon-colored cold skin and death.