By: Jack Coey
Judson walked by the funeral parlor and read the sign: Foley Funeral Parlor: Cremations & Burials. He was in his seventies and alone in the world. He’d left Laura and his son in his early fifties for a waitress with big tits. That’s when they came to Keene and the waitress lasted until she found a man with money: Bye, bye. Judson worked in supermarkets and lived in boarding houses. He dated women but wouldn’t live with another. He drank beer in the Legion Hall on Friday night, and if he was lucky, he would get invited to a woman’s apartment, and one time even, to a woman’s home when her husband was off fishing. Matter of fact, the next Friday night, the women was with her husband, and she ignored Judson, which was a good thing, because the husband looked like a Marine-type that would put one between your eyes – no problem. Judson was good-looking with a full head of white hair and blue eyes which allowed him to get what he wanted from women without ever having to commit anything. Laura was different; she knew his flaws, and was sympathetic and patient with his problems, and worked to make him a more actualized person which got to be a drag. But the waitress with the big tits offered good times without all the self-improvement, and it was too bad she didn’t stick around longer.
“Women are like buses, wait twenty minutes for another,” he told himself.
Usually he was pretty aggressive going after women, but he was slowing down. Normally he’d flirt, but now he was thinking about death more, he didn’t feel like it so much. He kept thinking about death, then, he’d get angry with himself for thinking about it so much. Or he would brood over things done poorly in his life like abandoning Laura and their son, Harlan. Harlan would be twenty-eight now, and he was ashamed when he admitted he didn’t know what he did or who he was with. Terrible really. Judson walked the streets of Keene, thinking about what to do with the rest of his time. He made himself walk by the funeral parlor: Foley Funeral Parlor: Cremations & Burials. He kept thinking about Laura and Harlan. As far as he knew, Laura was in Nashua probably retired from nursing. He went to the library and looked her up on the internet and it gave a Nashua address. He walked the streets some more and had the idea he should ask for forgiveness. What better way to devote the rest of his life? Foley Funeral Parlor: Cremations & Burials. He could take a bus from Keene to Nashua and could find where Belmont Street was. He could find Harlan after talking to Laura. It sounded like a good plan to him – then – he began to have doubts. Why not leave it in the past? What good could come from it at this point? Foley Funeral Parlor: Cremations & Burials. Do I really want to die without Laura and Harlan knowing I feel badly about how I behaved? Even if they withhold forgiveness at least I’ll die knowing I did everything I could to make amends to the people I hurt. That in itself is the most noble thing to do with the time I have left. He remembered the time, he and Laura had a bad fight, and he got drunk, and drove a car which he smashed into a parked car after driving for a couple of miles. By rights, he should have killed himself or someone else, but he was spared, and he believed he was kept alive for a reason, and maybe this was it?
He was in a quandary as to what to do. After he was dead none of this would matter anyway so why bother? It’s not about being dead, it’s about being alive, and alleviating suffering in life. He decided to check on the bus schedule and price. He could go in the morning and come back in the afternoon. He chose next Thursday to go.
On the bus ride to Nashua, he hoped Harlan and him could have a relationship even though they hadn’t been in each other’s life for twenty years. He would have to beg Harlan’s forgiveness and could he live with himself if his son didn’t forgive him? He imaged Harlan looked like him and maybe that would help. What if Harlan had children or Laura a new husband? He coached himself to be accepting of anything he would find, after all, he deserted them. He was nervous and thought he should have contacted Laura before showing up in person. He thought he should call her on the phone before going to see her. That idea made him less nervous. It was a bad idea to show up after twenty years with no fore warning. After the bus pulled into Nashua, he was hungry and walked down Main Street until he came to a doughnut shop. He walked in and ordered two doughnuts and a cup of coffee. As he bit into the first doughnut, he noticed a paper on the counter. He took it up and flipped through the pages until he saw this:
Laura Wilder, aged 68, died Tuesday afternoon of cancer. She retired as a nurse from Nashua General Hospital in 2014. She is survived by a sister in Gloucester, Mass. and her son who’s serving in Iraq.
Judson bowed his head in despair. Foley Funeral Parlor: Cremations & Burials.