Simply Inappropriate (A short story by Fillip Williams)

In a townhouse, early one morning. A family is in the process of making their way to a funeral. The Father Wayne, is finnishing his coffee as he watches the news. The Mother Beth is stressing over the chores the rest of the family have neglected to do. The Sister DiQuanda is getting dressed. The Brother Flecther was sleeping untill Beth woke him up.

“Knock, Knock. Feeling better today?(almost inaudible moans are heard from the sofa in a dark room) …Get up. We gotta pick up your gramndmother in like fifteen minutes so puts some cloths on.” Says Beth to her son. Fletcher slowly makes his way downstair to the kitchen to begin his usual “nothing but boxers at the breakfast table” ritual. DiQuanda walks into the kitchen behind him while fixing her hair. “I can’t believe I’m going to a funeral. What if i start laughing?” She’s says. “It’s a funeral.” Fletcher replies. “Well, yeah. Leonard was a sweet man but he was grandma’s sister’s husband. I didn’t know him that well. Besides I allways make inappropriate jokes when i’m uncomfortable.”
“No you don’t”
“I do too! …Shouldn’t you be getting dressed?” Suddenly the siblings sense a glare from the source of great nagging to come. “Family, you haven’t cleaned like asked and we are running late.” Beth says anxiously. Fletcher proceeds to run up stairs and get fully clothed while scarfing down a banana. DiQuanda turns to her Father walking in from the front room and asks “Should I be wearing this white shirt?”
“There’s nothing wrong with that. Why?” Wayne says matter of factly.
“I only got one black shirt and it’s way too sparkly. I don’t wanna go to a funeral looking like i’m going to perform. Isn’t that the rule that you have to wear black?”
“Like the Labor Day thing.” Fletcher quipps as he tucks in his shirt.
“Your wearing a black vest so I think it still counts.” Wayne assures his daughter then gets a quick look from his wife and says, “I’ll bring the car around.”
Quitely Beth sits at the kitchen table and allmost rhetorically asks what her kids remember most of the departed. DiQuanda tells her story first. “Well, it’s not like a real special moment or anything but i’ll allways remember him in this phrase: ‘Leonard, What have you done? Heh-heh.'”
“That catchphrase is what you’ll allways remember him for? …Darhma used to say that.” Fletcher teases.
“Yeah, well his name is in it.” DiQuanda says slightly embarrased.
“Which jacket should I go with? This one is more tradish… but this one is way cooler.”
“That one. This one is too… ‘Rythem Nation’… Are you wearing a Batman beltbuckle?”
“Yes I am.”
“I’ll have you know I put some thought into it. It’s symbolic. It’s like: Out of death can come great things.”

DiQuanda looks at him blankly.

“With out his parents death he never would have became Batman. It’s pop-culture. Look it up.” Fletcher states.
“And your Batman?” Diquanda said distastfully.
Thier father reenters the house after relocating the car. “Car’s out front. Woah, what are you doing?” He exclaims to Fletcher.
“What? I’m putting my shoes on.”
“Those raggity old things? Those aren’t dress shoes. You need a pair of dress shoes. Here take these.” Wayne hands Fletcher a pair of black dress shoes very fatherly like.
Wayne looks to his wife who proceeds to have a worried look on her face and says to her, “Come baby, let’s wait in the car.” The two leave and the remainder of the family fumble through the coats. Fletcher not entirely happy about the shoes makes a expression of concearn on his face which his sister instantly picks up on.
“What’s with you?” She asks.
“Dad’s shoes are too big. I might trip all over the place.” He replies.
“What’s the worst that can happen?” She assures.

The family of four pick up the fith member of this party. Grandma Ethel. She’s quiet. Sits in a wheelchair and says nothing. She used to be quite opinionated. Quite negative. But those days are over. Now she’s just silently bitter. The family picks her up outside her little apartment. They help her into the car and put her chair in the back.

It’s been quite a drive and finally they have arrived at the church. The family walk in to the lobby of the church and look around a bit. “Somethings missing.” Beth states. The four of them are silently pondering for a few seconds. Wayne snaps his fingers with the answer. “Grandma.”He runs back to the car to assist his mother in law. They have come to realise that they are a bit early and the youngest of the troop are allready restless. “Do you wanna go to the nearest gas station and maybe pick up something?” DiQuanda asks her brother. “Sure.” He answers. The two make their way downhill towards what seems to be this small towns center and come upon a gas station. They discuss the worst thing that could happen at the funeral. DiQuanda’s number one fear being, laughing uncontrollably. “Seriously, laughing in church is bad enough, but everybody does it. Laughing in front of a dead guy and all his loved ones…” She pauses as if to say, ‘you fill in the blank’.
“Yeah, but I don’t know you to make jokes in bad taste… you just make bad jokes.” Teases Fletcher.
“How’s your throught? Want’s some hot chocolate? It’s on me.” offers DiQuanda.
“Sure.” He says and carefully clears his throught. “Seriously. You must have gotton that whole thing from some character on tv when you were a kid and tried to adopt such behavior. It just doesn’t sound like you.” He says as the two make the way up hill. “Who are you Dr. Fletch? I’m telling you I’m like that. So deal.” Her cell phone rings as she finnishes her sentence and she answers it. Click. “Hello? Yeah, me and Fletcher are on our way now. But we came early… we got time. Gosh, it’s not like He’s going anywhere!” Fletcher bursts into laughter spitting up hot chocolate.

Minutes later. The scene at the doorway of the church has changed. Instead of there being nobody there, the widow and her only son both heavily emotional are greating everyone who walks in. Without thinking the siblings walk in and give Darhma and her son Tim a big hug each. It was somewhere during the swap when they hoped no one would notice the Hot Coco.

“Who brings hot chocolate to a funeral?” DiQuanda whispers heavily out of slight distaste over such behaviour. They realise that their Mother and Father are sitting fairly close to the front. So the two grabs seats in the back like criminals approching a room full of cops. “Better turn off your cell, we can’t afford looking like two heartless hollywood types sipping our lattes in tha back of someones funeral.” Fletcher harshly whispers back.

Suddenly DiQuanda is slowly handed her brothers Coco. She’s looks down at it and thinks “What’s this?” She then looks over at him and sees him tilt his head back. Achoo! Spill.
“What the heck is wrong with you? What are you giving me that for?” She hissed.
“Just hold it. I gotta blow my nose.” He hissed back as he quickly got up and proceeded to the bathroom.
“Bring me back some paper towels.” Now holding two stierophone cups DiQuanda is faced with a dilemma. “Excuse me can you hold this?” She asked an innocent bystander (or by-sitter as the case may be). The older gentleman next to her reluctantly held her cups as she with her barehands attempts to clean spilt coco off her white shirt.

As Fletcher returns to the church room his mother Beth meets with him.
“Fletcher, They asked me if you would help carry the coughin after the service. So, can you do that?” She asked.
“Yeah, of course.” He said and they both parted ways and returned to their seats respectively. Fletcher’s head was screaming with panic. Joining his sister the two sat quietly as the service began. The deceased’s family walk down the isle and to ther places. The Female Pastor stands up and begins to lead the gathering into song.

She then begins to speak fondly of Leonard. Of all the memories. Suddenly and without warning she would stop in mid sentence, pausing for just a moment and seem to have to press through to the next word. The siblings looked at one another curiously. Perhaps she knew Leonard very well and was a little chocked up. Suddenly it happened again around the part where he met his wife to be. She had a stutter. Snort!

Horrified Fletcher looks to see his little sister struggling with composure. Which in turn brings a broad smile to his face he hurrys to cover up. The two keeping their heads down begin to shake with silent glee. Meanwhile, the departed’s son Tim wanders his gaze over his shoulder to witness in what state the people behind him were in. Some movement caught his eye from across the room and he was met with a revelation that pleasently supprised him. Beth’s kids must have really loved his father.

Finally the time came for Fletcher to help carry this kind old man to his grave. Or at least to the herse. Fletcher has never done anything like this before. This is the first funeral he’s ever attended where he has actually eaten countless brunches with the deceased. “What if I screw this up?” he thought. Releaved to see other men who seemed alot stronger than he made his way to the first available handel. His father Wayne, being one of the men to carry the coughin, met his eyes and gave him a care free “Yikes” kind of look.

“Shouldn’t we blow out the candels? …No? OK.” Fletcher says under his breath. They lift carefully. Proceed down the steps and Fletcher trips over his own shoes giving the candles enough unbalance to tip over and set fire to the flowers displayed on the coughin. Panic ensues and Fletcher along with other pallbarrers attempt to pat the fire out.

It was then Fletcher visualised what the worst thing that could happen to him right now would look like. Luckily those event’s didn’t take place. The coughin made it to the herse and everyone piled into their cars and hit the road. As soon as Wayne turned on the engine and to everyone’s suppries he turned it off again looking like a mix between being perturbed and emabarased and silently walked back into the church. Everyone knew what it was but Beth just spelled it out. “We forgot my mother again.”
“Someone needs to put a leash on her.” DiQuanda quipps.

On the drive there, Diquanda asks aloud how it felt to carry the coughin. “It was sort of heavy.” Fletcher replied frankly.
“Deadweight.” Wayne said grinning a smile as crooked as the devil’s hind leg. Beth playfully slugged him in his arm as the rest of the family (with the exception of Grandma Ethel) enjoyed a hardy chuckle.

Everyone get’s out of their cars and over to the grave site. Fletcher notices a third cousin with impecible taste in clothing.
“Hey, isn’t that what’s his face? You know… half brittish.” Fletcher asks openly.
“Franklyn” His sister answers.
“Yes, that’s it. Thank you. That dude has got some style… What was I listening to you for? I should’ve brought my other jacket.” Beth suddenly cuts in and says in a strict tone of voice,” Fletcher, it’s a funeral not a fashion show.” Wanye at that moment adds while gesturing slightly to a man in the croud, “Speaking of fashion, who weres a Redskins jacket to a funeral?”
“Someone who prefers to stay warm.” says DiQuanda.
“…and support his favorite team.” says Fletcher.
“Goooo Redskiins!” the siblings mime for their parents.

The ceramony is soon continued. Fletcher and Wayne as well as Franlyn and his father plus two other relatives lift the coughin ot ouf the herse and place it gently over the grave. The stuttering female paster attempts to say a few words and encourages everyone to stand by the grave and pay their respects. Nobody in the family said anything when it was their turn. They wanted to but felt like nothing they could say could really live up to what everyone expects. Beth had something else on her mind as the family waited in the “allready did it section”.
“Did you see that?” she asked Wayne.
“See what?”
“That family cut in front of us in line.”

Everyone is done and the stutter lady struggles with what the gathering is to do next. The siblings stand somewhat behind the croud and suddenly old man in front of them passes gas. Not once, but twice. The two simultainiously back up and begin laughing as quietly as possible. So much so that tears start to form. Suddenly Tim walks up to the pair with a goofy smile and embrases them both. Without saying a word the man leaves and the brother and sister are confused.

Everyone is walking back to the car. Beth Stops dead in her tracks as she sees her mother still sitting in the backseat of the car. “I’ll never live this down for the rest of my life.” She said with her head downcast. Wayne in a sad attempt to joke away the moment delivers, “Or for the rest of her life, which can’t be too long.” It was the look in his wifes eyes that made him realise he messed up big time.

The family is now sitting at a dinner table in the basment of the church eating sandwiches and drinking coffee. Everyone is talking and sharing stories. DiQuanda shared with her brother that when Darhma greeted her at the door and said ‘Thank you for comming.’, she freaked out and all she could say was ‘Same to you too.’ They both shared a laugh.
“Wanna hear something stupid I was thinking about earlier?” Fletcher bated her and gleefully she complied.
“I thought, what if, when I was carrying the coughin I trip over these shose and accidentally set fire to the whole thing. And right after that Darhma would get up and say, ‘Fletcher, What have you done?'”

As soon as the line was delivered DiQuanda’s loud laughter was heard throughout the local, peicing everyones conversation. Dead silence and everyone looks towards the twins who can’t take it any longer and both laugh right out loud.

The End

In Loving Memory
Lennart Johansson


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