Harlan counted again: 67 years!
The numbers were bright as they flashed in his head. In all those years he had made every trip to Wiscasset, Maine but one, the time he was in the hospital in McKees Rocks, PA for his coronary by-pass. 67 years to celebrate a death, a heroic death, but a death forever cold, no matter how hard they tried to warm it up.
With eight hundred miles of road under my butt in the last three days, my blood sugar barely holding the line, a couple of old wounds still talking sass to me, whatever else was bugging me besides my errand, fell off the face of the Earth when Disher Menkin’s wife Elsie, the new widow, still somewhat of a knockout though she’d collected some flesh under her chin she’d never try to hide, a few other imperfections lost in a surprisingly good figure, hardly ever taciturn at best, said, “Where the hell have you been, Coop, when we needed you most?”
“You’re a big gasbag, Jersey,” the tallest one of the lot said with loud emphasis and staring at the smallest of his pals with that old in-charge look, “nothing but a big gasbag, I swear. You’re always bragging about your brothers and what they did in the service and you weren’t even in the Boy Scouts, for cryin’ out loud. How’s it make you such a storyteller all the time? And you never let go! Like you’re itching to tell us a story we already heard a half dozen times and then some.”
“All things bright and beautiful
All creatures great and small
All things wise and wonderful
The Lord God…”
“I was told I should report here. What do you need me to do?”
“Shovels are over there, buckets are behind you. Dig or help carry it away.”
“Each little flower that opens
Each little bird that sings…”
“I’m sorry Mrs Jones but you’ll have to move back. They’re going as fast as they can.”
“I just need to know if Tommy is OK. He is OK isn’t he? He said he was feeling sick this morning but you know what they are like on last day of school…”