The story so far:
'Is there anything you'd like to tell us about your father's condition?' asked the officer. The question caught me by surprise. Maybe I should let them do an autopsy this time. That would serve the dead son-of-a-bitch right.
'Natural causes according to the Deputy Coroner,' piped up the man with the latex gloves. 'Ticker stopped...seen it a thousand times.'
The officer seemed satisfied. Father had just dodged a bullet.
The attendant finally pulled the sheet back over father's peaceful face...serene for the moment. But before long the other stiffs would have to put up with his impatient glare along with that smart-**** grin of his.
I stood there, continuing to stare at his cold body, wondering how much we really are alike.
The attendant swatted a fly with his clipboard before he asked me to sign on the dotted line...with a lavender pen. I struggled to hold back my own smart-**** grin. Now was not the time to enjoy any impromptu irony. The fly landed on my father's covered head. Both of them laid still...still as could be. Death does that.
I've been here enough times to know that the grieving relative will often choose to stay with the body until we are strong-armed out of the room. Finally the officer placed his sweaty swollen fingers and reddened knuckles on the shoulder, no doubt smearing my white tee with a greasy fingerprint. As he leaned close I could smell the Aqua Velva and jelly donut. This time his unwanted grip suggested that we move on.
"He'll always be with you," said Officer Whatshisname. The cop was more clairvoyant than he could possibly comprehend.
Not this time, I replied under my breath. Not this time.
The chill of the room was finally getting to me. It's hard to continue rubbing your hands to stay warm when you're pretending that this will be the last time you'll ever see a loving father. Loving...that's a joke. But it certainly was time to stop pretending I wanted any more bonding moments with the perpetually dead. But before I allowed the officer to escort me out of the dark cold room, I reached over to my father's nose and gently picked up the motionless fly. I brought the fly close to my lips and softly blew air across it's fragile wings. The officer's eyes widened as I let go of the fly and watched it take flight towards the double doors and out of sight.
The cop said, 'Nice trick, kid.'
He then hustled me out the same doors towards the light and colors of the city, leaving Father alone with all the other less lively stiffs and an attendant who was more interested in his next lunch break than he was in rolling the most experienced dead man he'd ever met back into his metal drawer, his temporary resting place.
We walked outside. The officer led the way to the Honda, as though he knew it was mine. I ignored his interest as I enjoyed the hue of the morning sky and the colors of the busy boulevard. He continued to talk incessantly about moving on with life as he suspiciously searched the inside of my car. There's not a lot of room in the Prius to keep anything out of sight.
"So, OJ," asked the cop. "What you gonna do with the shovel and flashlight?"
OJ? That wasn't the name I used today...oh yeah, I get it. It's just my turn to be a tool in an old worn out OJ Simpson joke. How fitting.
I smiled as though I appreciated the comparison. But in truth, I suppose it was less of a smile and more like a peaceful grin. No doubt I looked, for a moment, nothing like OJ, but more like my father than ever. The fake tremor in my voice was gone. "I'm done with that shovel, Officer. You can take it home if you like, I have had all the gardening in the dark I'll ever want and need again."
"Sorry, kid" replied the cop. "It'll take more than that to bribe the city's finest."
I reached out to him and this time more firmly shook shands. "Thank you, Officer."
"Detective Carter," he replied with a sly smile.
So after I politely shook Detective Carter's moist oversized hand, I took his advice. I moved on with my life...for the time-being. The Prius purred as I pulled it on to East Boulevard and watched the Detective fade away in my rear view mirror.
I had to head over to the funeral home. But that can wait. I decided to save that final performance of a grieving son for tomorrow. Besides, Father had always made his own arrangements, prepaid everything. But this time I think I'll just talk them into ignoring that silly religious mumbo jumbo about how he can't be embalmed. It's time for all the **** to stop. It's time for me to move on as Detective Carter said. It's time for me to come out and be who I am...live my own life, with the people and friends whom I choose. No more running away from town to town. No more running away from myself. No more pretending.
All I needed was this one last death certificate and to contact the insurance company. In six months or so I'll deposit what will be the final insurance check, insuring that I won't have to run away anymore. Maybe I'll even meet somebody, settle down, and act like I'm as normal as the next guy whose buried his old man five times.
There'll be no more resurrections. No one...not me, not any of the dead presidents in my bank account, will ever want my father to walk this earth again.
Or so I thought.