“Travis was a good man,” Reverend Ryan said, standing, hands folded chest-level in front of Travis’ coffin. An American flag, honoring Travis’ service in World War 2, folded to regulation rested atop the brown box below in which his corpse rested. Ryan has a headful of thick gray hair and neatly trimmed stubble along his jaw. Jenna, and her mother (Eleanor), sat in the pews every Christmas and Easter. Ryan had baptized Jenna last autumn at a Catholic cathedral on 5th Avenue and Lincoln Street in Seattle, Washington. The church banned Jenna after an undercover cop caught her (and a group of friends) spray painting obscenities on the church building. Jenna raised her chin skyward; her eyes followed. Sitting in the pew, Jenna wondered if she’d go to hell for the ex-communication. (If so, she’d hoped this black dress wasn’t flammable.) Jenna had just finished repaying her parents the thousand-dollar fine ordered by the judge for the property damage. The megachurch in which Eleanor held Travis’ funeral had benches, the kind that well, the style of brown, long benches seen in almost any church in America.
Jenna wished this place had a pillow to sit on, but with these heels killing her feet, even the hard bench felt better than none.
“It’s a shame Travis died—not much older than me.” Ryan’s eyes traced the room; the stoic faces pulled at something in his disbelief. “Travis headed the program to promote sexual purity—teaching our youth to remain pure until marriage. Travis was a man of God,” Ryan said, throwing his hands heavenward.
Revisionist history much…? Jenna folded her arms across her chest and slumped in the pew. Sexual purity, really…? I can’t believe this shit, Jenna thought, snorting a laugh. Jenna could’ve beaten the fuck out of the reverend for that goddamn lie. Granddad most certainly was fucking none of those things. Jenna winced at the snivels, grinding on her nerves, of people who never wanted to stay ten seconds around the son-of-a-bitch when he was alive. And the people dapping tissues on tearless eyes pulled at something in her pale, freckled skin folded her hands into clenched fists. Cousins Jenna hadn’t seen in ten plus years showed up, hoping Travis had left them something in his will.
“Jenna, dear,” Rev. Ryan said, “do you have anything you would like to say?”
Warmth rushed through her. Yeah, Jenna thought. I’ve got plenty of shit to say about the son-of-a-bitch, nothing I can say in a church, though.
“Um…You know, Rev., I’m still so like processing his death and stuff. But, you’re right.” Jenna stood to her feet, leaning against the bench in front of her body. “He was some…well, he was some man.” Jenna gave a tight-lipped smile, returned to her seat, crossed her legs, and licked her lips to erase her words. The ice of an awkward silence broke with the reverend’s nervous cough.
“In that case, the service has concluded. Father, Son, Holy Spirit.” The reverend motioned the cross as Catholics do. “I have a”—Ryan held his wrist to his face—“couple in Kent that I need to marry, and I’m running late.”
Eleanor heaved to her feet, turning to speak to the attendees. “I’d like to thank everyone for coming,” Eleanor said, wringing her hands in front of her body. “Dad would have appreciated this.”
Jenna rolled her eyes. Oh, fuck all the way off.
“Meet us at Edison burial ground in an hour,” Eleanor told everyone.
“Thank God this shit is over with,” Ryan whispered loud enough for Jenna to hear. As Ryan pulled his jacket over his shoulders, a mini-bottle of whiskey fell from his pocket to the wood ground upon which his feet stood.
Jenna swooped to grab the bottle. Without her glasses, she squinted and traced the label with her finger. “Holy water…?” She forced a crooked smile.
“Bless you in Jesus’ name, dear.” Ryan winked, placing the bottle in the pocket of his khaki pants.
(unedited sample. I’ll share the full-edited version once I post it on Kindle.)