"Nice Day For Hanging Out In Bars"
The toddy of choice for during the ceremony was stout pints of ale, in Kelly Sammys draught glasses, toted from Kelly Sammys to the cemetery and, which nursed at the proper rate would last through the whole thing and until the return to Kelly Sammys—despite being steadily rained in, and their possessors being rained on. And it did rain on, heavier and heavier rained the rain as the rite proceeded. Detective Thompson showed up about ten minutes later.
The couple produced the urn full of Santos' particulate remains; the man unscrewed its lid and began sprinkling Santos about the ground and into the wet wind: “OM AH HUM...In the palace of the Beatific Body wheel in the center of my physical throat, in the vast sphere immersed in rainbows and lights, in the center of the beatific wheel lotus, there is the clear, red, Evolutionary Great Scientist, Padmanarteshvara, with five light-ray brilliance, bliss-void united with the red Wisdom Angel, manifesting in space, holding chopper and skull bowl. May the body Scientist host protect all beings!” the couple chanted together, glowing and smiling brightly in the rain. Smith recognized the verse; they were quoting from the classic Buddhist text, The Great Book of Natural Liberation Through Understanding the Between, composed by Padma Sambhava.
Santos' wet hippie friends, musician friends, bar friends, all stood about, some drinking, some smoking, and some not. But they all—despite the location, circumstances, and weather—formed a pretty jovial, sunny crowd. Most were smiling and chatting. Wells' straight edge punk band had made fast friends with a group that included Santos' jazzmates, and they were all standing there talking shop—several of them not even watching the couple conducting the ceremony. Anyway, it was a wake, so it was not meant to be morose, Smith thought. Thompson, also smoking, but drinking coroner's office coffee instead of stout, stood next to Smith, looking about the crowd. There were, quite very frankly, not any suspicious characters nor really any strangers at hand at all. Santos' next of kin, her only kin, Janice Allison—was already extremely drunk; and so were Professor Foster and Daisy Wilson, and the three of them were making out and becoming pretty handsy on one another, and a bit cacophonous, but the nobody seemed to mind.
It was to this relaxed atmosphere and among the divided attention of the crowd then, in which occurred what was a minor incident in the overall scheme of things. It made for a period of suspended certainty about what had happened and what was going on. Smith actually saw what caused it; a woman standing near the couple with the bowl full of Santos slipped in the mud and fell toward the woman with the urn, who quickly shoved the urn at her partner and caught the falling woman. Well, almost; she tried to catch her. Both women fell into a sloppy puddle of rain, freshly spilled ale, and mud, hitting the man with the urn thus causing him to lose his balance and hit the ground also—but not before he tossed the urn high into the air above the crowd. Smith, afterwards, figured that since the man knew he was falling with the urn and knew that it was about to spill everywhere, the guy probably just decided to chunk it high in the sky to make the best of it, better scattering the ashes—which was what they were already doing purposely in the first place.
Incidental to the man and the two women hitting the mud, and the contents of the urn puffing out above the crowd, was a thunder clap and lightning flash. Thompson turned to look at Smith. The two were already standing slightly back from the crowd, and they both instinctively backed up a couple more steps from the mess unfolding before them. With the thunder and lightning, the rain went from quite steady to formidably heavy and continued quickly creeping toward torrentious. The three were helped up from the mud, and there were a few more words said to close the ceremony, and the crowd sheepishly, but swiftly, made its way back to the bus and back to Kelly Sammys.
Before they left the cemetery parking lot, Smith and Thompson talked sedan to sedan, from driver-side window to driver-side window. “I understand that the sharks are gone,” Smith said.
“Yep. Basically just a little shark shaped pile of sand where their carcasses had been. I don't know whether they reanimated and hopped or rolled out—or whatever they do to get around on land—or, if they were stolen, or if they just disintegrated overnight, like dead, murderous, evil, people-eating land fish might be prone to doing,” Thompson answered. “Get used to it, Smith. A trip to the morgue doesn't mean what it used to mean. And be on your toes tonight, it's Saturday,” he winked. Smith grinned back.
Smith had difficulty thinking of a reason to remain at Kelly Sammys for the rest of the afternoon's wake. There seemed no benefit, it seemed a waste of time to him. He instead went to his apartment, to cleanse himself of the the rain and mud of the cemetery with a warm shower. It was Saturday, he thought, and he might as well take a quick break as opportunity availed.
As happy hour commenced at Kelly Sammys, Foster, Wilson, and Allison returned from Foster and Wilson's condo, still drunk, but significantly steadied by all the weird, post-funeral sex they'd just had. The way the bartender would later describe it to Smith, what happened a few minutes after their re-arrival, seemed much like the spontaneous urn dropping that happened earlier in the afternoon. There was a large swordfish mounted above the egress to the restrooms—it had been up there for years and years, handily and fastly bolted into the supporting structure. Somehow, it escaped the mooring of its final resting place, falling, grievously, head-and-pointy-swordnose-first, into the unsuspecting patron serendipitously walking underneath it at that moment, on her way to the ladies' room. The woman was Janice Allison. Was. The fish's blade shoved itself truly and deeply, into Allison's petite lower neck, just above the very top of her sternum.
When the stuffed fish came off the mount, it made a loud racket, loud enough that people in that part of the noisy tavern could hear it, and they all turned to look. Rapidly bleeding out and dying in the floor was Janice Allison, with the stuffed fish's sword of a snout having shoved itself through her clavicle, through her heart, and out of her anus. Most of Allison's blood had arched from her body within about a minute.
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