The wind blew directly into his face just as he was releasing the ashes from the cracked cookie jar, turned ceramic urn, and off the end of Regal Beach Pier as directed. The pier, her favorite spot due to a favorable childhood memory she couldn’t recall. And this is where, she had said a hundred times, she wanted to spend eternity. Now that seems an eternity ago.

Beaten by time, scarred by neglect; once a favorite family outing destination; but the best of the park had been drowned by rising tide and toxic sewage run-off; leaving the rotting pier now a condemned stand-alone refuge for the walking dead.., desperate mundacity on parade.

Mary’s ashes were all up in brother Marty’s business, breaking the serenity-of-sorrow spell cast upon the few in attendance. Marty was Mary’s brother, and Marty was a Brother of a higher Order. The latter by belief - a divine calling; the former by blood – an accident of birth.


Marty was a religious order celibate celebrant hiding behind a vow of silence which he came very close to violating while brushing off his sister's ashes from his modest communal mourning attire; and after cleaning his glasses and blowing his nose; was able to focus on the reaction from the other three in attendance.

There was well-to-do widow, Aunt Phyllis, who of course would be there; even if Mary wasn’t her only niece. This is what Aunt Phyllis does, at least three funerals a week. Says it’s the only thing left that gives her strength – cosmetic self-esteem makes her look more alive; but it was the funerals making her feel more alive. Everything is relative – even the deceased.

There was her only other older but not oldest brother Sam; a mid-management insurance officer, who no longer worried about retirement, whose company's loss would be his gain. Happy that Marty had also a vow of poverty badge.

And then there was the very old Ms. Ryan, Mary’s junior year drama teacher that didn’t teach Mary so much about acting but plenty about drama; who had been a long time pinnacle partner.
Someone said a couple of words appropriately philosophical and specifically vague; nobody remembers who – perhaps a passing street parson with shoe-gaze visions; before Aunt Phyllis, in her black Lincoln Town Car, sped out of beach parking and down the highway beating rush-hour traffic to another funeral cross-town at Final Resting Acres; a real memorial-park, a real burial; promising to be much better attended.

Sam was next to follow. Had an appointment with his real-estate agent. Looking to upgrade – something big and beautiful with three baths and a pool.

And old Ms. Ryan who was actually the first to leave but at her age the last to reach the parking lot, rested on her walker to wait on a taxi to take her to an early-bird special then bingo-nite at a neighborhood house of worship. She won thirty bucks last week.

And Marty with a bothersome impacted sinus, hinting of Oreo cookie sweetness, reflected; what was the point of Mary’s life.., What was the point of his? Even though he had chosen what he thought a meaningful path – helping the sick, poor and decrepit; but mostly fundraising and keeping the rectory free of wine stains.., still he came up empty; a career of blind-faith beliefs banished from beyond the grave.

Searching past the stink of fish bait, the boats in the channel, even farther than the far-off tankers; across the endless ocean for an answer; some sort of meaning. Cause if he were to speak what would he say. And if he did find something to say, something outside well-rehearsed sacred clichés whose meanings are buried with the dead; would it mean anything; even to himself.., tomorrow.


© 2016 by Steve McNuttin