October 2, 2007

What a Ride!

  Soon we'll be off to the burial of our friend Haines. What a fine man he was. Loved his dogs, ate his apples, helped his neighbors. Now, outside the church, we look around. We'll each be driving ourselves--a race to beat the black-coated minister, who wants everything sombre and by the book. For Haines? According to rules? Hell, no.
  One friend slides across the butt-shined bench seat of his old gray Ford sedan. It knows him well; every lever and knob is ready with a secret handshake. He turns the key and off they go.
Another friend climbs heartily into her old tan van--a Dodge so set in its ways it tries to drive home and she has to arm-wrestle it to go down Willow Boulevard to the cemetary. Another friend jumps on his silver motor scooter from Japan. He turns the key in the heart of the scooter's chest and it clears its throat, and goes.
  I stand looking around. Gray sedan, tan van, silver scooter--all out of sight now; they follow the mischief of our dead friend as he is pulled toward the cemetary in a hearse. Well, so, remembering how our Haines loved B-flat chords and dubious harmony--he couldn't play anything but a kazoo--I find myself on a piano stool--mahogany, with little wheels on the four legs and a swivelling seat. I ride downhill on Willow, steer around the sedan, hop over broken bricks, pass the scooter with its throbbing heart.
  Finally, with a wave and a halloooo! I pass my friend in the van, and the hearse too, and ride through the gates. I'm singing some song I don't know the words to, but I hear a kazoo.

No comments: