Toyota Prius backseats are not made for sitting. At least for tall guys like me. After four hours back there, legs wrapped around my ears, I could barely move, not to mention the fact that my tailbone felt like I'd been sitting on the business side of a claw hammer for half a day. So when we pulled into the parking lot of the funeral home, I was the first out of the car.
I leaned against the car, not caring if my already-rumpled black suit jacket got a little dirty, arched my back, closed my eyes, and stretched. The morning sun shone warmly on my face as I breathed deeply, filling my lungs with the clean, crisp Los Angeles air.
Suddenly I felt arms wrap around my waist. My eyes shot open. I looked down.
A short guy, hair cropped close, wearing a Redskins sweatshirt and a black fanny pack, had his arms around me, head resting against my chest, crying softly.
Dad was out of the car by this time, but he didn't rush over to save me; in fact, I thought I saw him chuckling quietly behind his hand.
"I was at your wedding," the short guy cried.
I looked around bewildered, hoping for some help. Mom, still in the car, pressed the automatic door luck button.
"Um...well, thank you for being there, Mr...?" I asked, patting him tentatively on the back.
"Mark Jr.! I'm your UNCLE ROY," he cried. "And I was at your wedding!"
"Well, Uncle...thank you."
He held on for another minute or two, sniveling a bit, then dried his eyes on my suit jacket, pulled away, and stood, too-close, face-to-face, smiling demurely down at his feet, hands clasped in front of him.
Just as I started to get a little creeped out, I saw the funeral home door open, and out barreled a monster of a man--my height, but a good fifty pounds heavier, with biceps the size of cantaloupes, and no real neck to speak of. I breathed a sigh of relief; the big man was coming to rescue me.
"MARK JR! YOU'RE MY NEPHEW!" he bellowed as he got within arms-reach. "I WAS AT YOUR WEDDING!"
Funny; I don't remember my wedding to have been quite this overpopulated with strange, dysfunctional relatives.
"Well...Uncle; thank you for being there. You should have got a thank you card, but if we missed you, it was inadvertent, and I'm sure we can get that cleared up without any bodily injury."
Too late; he nearly yanked my arm out of socket with his two-handed, sledgehammer-swing, handshake. He grabbed me as the momentum started me toppling over, and lifted me off my feet in a too-tight bearhug.
"I HAVEN'T SEEN YOU IN EIGHT YEARS!" he yelled into my ear. "YOU'RE GETTIN' SO BIG!"
"Thank you," I wheezed back at him, but I don't think he heard me.
He let loose suddenly and, as I crumpled to the pavement, gasping for air, he rushed over to my Dad. "MARK! MY BROTHER! HOW YA DOIN' BROTHER?" Dad saw it coming, and performed a smooth parry-thrust maneuver, tossing his long-lost brother headlong into the side of a mustard-yellow Hummer H2. The H2's passenger door wouldn't open after that, but the impact didn't seem to affect Uncle Matthew's head any.
"DID YA' ALREADY MEET YOUR UNCLE ROY?" Matthew bellowed, as he dusted off his hula-girl-on-a-surfboard print Hawaiian shirt, bent over and pulled up his blue and red striped tube sock, and fastened the Hi-Tec sandal that had come off his left foot. He pointed at the short, closely-cropped guy, still crying over against the side of the Prius. "HE WAS AT YA WEDDIN' TOO!"
"Yep. Met him already," I opined. "Unforgettable experience; trust me."
"My wife didn't come," Matthew interrupted, quieting down to a moderate shout. "She's been pukin' all night. We 'et leftover enchilada's from the taco truck fer supper last night, but I think we shouldn't 'a left 'em out on the counter for more than 'bout three days, 'cuz--dear LORD, they made us sick!"
As we made our way to the funeral home chapel, he continued describing, in great detail, how the enchiladas had affected his bodily functions. "But, there's NO way," he proudly stated, "that I'm gonna miss my own Mother's funeral just 'cuz of some diarrhea. In fact, I ain't gonna lie to ya', it hit me somethin' fierce on the way over here, and I didn't get stopped quick enough, but it's OK, dontcha think? You can't see anything on these dark pants, can ya? And I stopped and threw the undies away in the dumpster at the church right down the way."
We had to wait while Dad ran after Mom, who'd, sometime during his description, made an abrupt U-turn, and made a beeline for the Prius.
I expected there to be soft organ music playing, once we stepped inside, with family and friends sitting in the pews, talking softly to each other, remembering times with Grandma--good and bad. Laughing softly from time to time, weeping quietly and comforting one another. Instead, when we walked in, all eyes were glued to the front of the room where, just to the right of the casket, a scrawny looking man with a scraggly looking beard and disheveled hair was attempting to yank a potted plant from the arms of a teen aged blonde girl.
"My work sent it," the girl sobbed as she tried desperately to hold on the the plant.
"Ya, but she was MY mom," he retorted, "and so I'm gonna put the plant in my apartment. Now give it to--" suddenly his voice broke off. A collective gasp went up across the little chapel. He stood staring toward the floor for a moment, then, as he looked up, his gaze seemed to visibly cloud over, his mouth set, and he hissed at the girl, advancing on her suddenly, "You MADE ME DROP my cigarette; you're gonna pay."
Uncle Matthew leaned over and whispered into my ear: "That's your OTHER uncle, Hicker. He was at your wedding!"
-To Be Continued...
-Disclaimer: This is a work of art, a mere fictional story. Any similarities to individuals, dead or alive, is purely coincidental.