Tuesday, February 9, 2010


I once wrote a story a long time ago called "Snow."  It was a brooding story very much in the influence of James Joyce.  Things really haven't changed so much since I was 17.  Anyway, we are supposed to get this big snow storm tomorrow.  Who knows if it's going to touch down.  I kind of hope it does just to get a little change of pace, though I would like to be up and about when it happens to walk around in it and see the panic in the faces of drivers on the city roads.  There is always something funny about the snow in the city.  Anyway, I'm feeling restless as usual and wanting to get out of the city and out into somewhere with space.  But I am trying to leave my job with grace and in doing that I have to swallow a great deal of hobo pride - as much as it pains me and makes me tired.

In any case, as I said last night, Part I of From Here to The Last Mound of Dirt is finished.  I will begin posting excerpts from Part II now.  Part II is drastically different in its perspective from Part I.  There are no short first person sections that break it up. Part II is made up of three long sections from the respective persepectives of a funeral director, Douglas Bryant, a limo driver, Peter Kosciuzko, and two gravediggers, Jack Simmons and Ed Verlaine.  Each of these characters exists at varying distances from the O'Donnell family, who are the focus of the novel.  This section is really the crux of the novel and the whole concept rides on it.  So, please follow along and let me know what you think.

Bryant and Sons Funeral Home stood white, bright and proud along Old Town Road.  The black lettering of the name was no different than any other funeral home in a ten mile radius of town.  The curves of each character were set with a bolder font, which made the name seem bigger.  The name Bryant – in bold – was regal, classical and, most important of all for the said family in propriety, memorable.

    Douglas Bryant paced the cement front steps impatiently.  In his pocket he thumbed at a piece of loose, callused skin that was on the edge of his middle finger.  He checked the watch on his other wrist.  “Damnit,” he thought. “That bastard O’Donnell is running late.”  He’d heard from Susan, his wife,  that Ben had gone on one of his famous benders again.  Susan had heard this from Ben’s sister-in-law, Erin.  Connor was always the more respectable brother, never carrying on like Ben had.  Funeral Director Bryant wondered if there had been any public displays as there had been years ago, the kind everyone talked about.  The most famous was when that widow who lived on West Meadow found Ben sleeping in a bathtub on the piece of beach behind her house.

    Douglas reminded himself to stop picking at his skin.  His hand rested in his pocket, slowly sweating onto the fabric.  A light breeze pushed his white hair back.  He looked across the street at the brick high school which stood equally as proud.  A small faint smile moved over his lips.  Cars moved in and out of the school parking lot and he felt as though he could hear the uncaring shouts of the students in and outside of the hallways; hear the stick and pull of cleats on the wet September fields.  There was a chance the football team might be good this year.  His son, Frank, was a nose tackle.

    Douglas listened to the traffic pass and continued to think of his son.  Frank was born with the same unfortunate husky build that he had carried his whole life.  However, Frank had used althletics to turn that shape into something positive, something admirable in terms of sacks and tackles.  Mr. Bryant sighed and realized he was picking at the skin on his finger again.  They weren’t getting along – he and his son – and Douglas blamed it on himself.  He was tough on Frank, wanted him to have a standout season and get a chance to go to a big university.  That would give him the possibility to get away.  Douglas looked up at the proud black lettered name on the building.  It would give Frank a chance to avoid entering this business, a business that he – Douglas – was supposed to love and cherish as much as his father Abraham.  God rest his soul.

    The loose skin fell off Funeral Director Bryant’s finger and dropped in a corner of his pocket, lost to him.  From the white noise of traffic two cars veered into the parking lot.  Douglas checked his watch and then peered into the window of one of the cars.  Ben O’Donnell was riding in the passenger seat.  The car stopped and one of Ben’s son’s stood up from the driver’s side.  It was Tom O’Donnell.  He was the strange son, the one with all that potential, who’d been at the head of the class but who’d never gone away.  The one who’d tried to kill himself three years ago.

    “How late are we?” Tom O’Donnell asked, his sharp face squinting in the sunlight.

    Funeral Director Bryant didn’t want to be stern, he didn’t want to seem like a hard ass. “Fairly late I would say,” he began.  Realizing that his tone sounded gruff, he tried to change it, but found his voice cracking. “Your family has been waiting for about twenty minutes.”

    The passenger window rolled down.  Ben O’Donnell, wearing sunglasses – surely not out of grief, thought Funeral Director Bryant – stuck his head out.

    “They can stand to wait.  All of them, Douglas.”

    Douglas Bryant was taken back by this blatant rudeness.  But before he could say anything, Tom O’Donnell spoke up.

    “I’m sorry, Mr. Bryant,” he said. “We’ve been getting calls all morning.  My father’s been having a tough time –"

    “Don’t apologize for me,” Ben O’Donnell said.  He opened the car door and got out.  Douglas Bryant noticed Ben stepping with a certain looseness in his step, almost a wobble, but it was held together. Yes, he still had to be drunk.

     “Dougie can take a little joke. Can’t you, Doug?”

    “It’s up to you how you want to honor your wife, Ben.  I’m not one to make judgments.”

    “Sure you are.”

    The second car honked and Tom O’Donnell gave a small wave. “We’ll meet you inside, dad.”  Then he stooped in, his dark face vanishing, and both cars continued around the corner of the building.

    “Let’s go, Ben,” Funeral Director Bryant said, walking briskly up to the heavy white front doors of the home.

    Ben followed him.  His limbs felt light and alive as he watched Doug Bryant’s round frame move in front of him.  Doug pulled open the door.  Ben stopped.  His head felt remarkably clear, there was no ache or bluriness.  Everything was bright and seemed to sit exactly right,  even Doug in his greenish black suit and his slightly damp parted white hair.  Ben took off his sunglasses.  He looked Doug up and down, then hugged him.

    “You’re a saint, Doug.”

    “Thank you, Ben.  I appreciate that.  But anything we can do, you know –"

     Ben passed by him and stepped onto the red carpet.  It was thick and gave with his shoes.  The carpet could carry him along on its spring, it would be able to carry him through this entire ceremony.  He didn’t need carrying, though.  This was where her wake was.  Connor over there by the door looking in at the crowd as I entered, like I am now.  He’s not here. Can I make out his ghost?

    “This way, Ben,” Doug said from his side.


  1. You are a creative writer and I enjoyed reading your post. Keep it up.

  2. Thanks for reading, Gretta. Let me know if there is anything you want to see up here.