The procession made its way down Dyke road like a slow applause for a movie star. Only the movie had just ended for Clay Biffley. Today was digging day. Today was it for him. Today the movie ended and he was a gift to the slough.
Garry Perry left his cap at home remembering that it was not a good show of respect to have your hat sitting on your head in front of the deceased. That would be wrong. Even Clay Biffley could not forgive that.
All of Finn Slough was out on the street as a soupy coloured grey fog had rolled in sometime in the morning and had refused to leave. No one seemed to have mentioned it as a problem but the way every one in the procession kept looking upwards with those “oh fug-a-loo” eyes there was certainly an appearance of weather regret.
Birds on the street stood without bobbing their heads. The winds did not blow through the reeves. The Lulu Island joggers slowed down and walked.
The procession itself was clumsy if for no other reason then the joggers running on the road would blatantly rumble in to the crowd saying “get out of my way”, and “move it muddy flatters”. But that was to be expected and so the pall bearers, which included Garry Perry, eventually began moving in a zigzag motion to accommodate the joggers, who while not moving fast, were still defiant. The zigzag was not a small feat as even in death the enormity of Clay Biffley weighed heavy on the ragtag group’s hands. Char McCool said in fact it was Clay Biffley’s soul stuck in the coffin box that made it so though Billy Bulkley had his doubts that anyone soul could be stuck in a wooden box.
Billy Bulkley was one of the pall bearers and had known the man quite well during his life. He would often arrive to Clay Biffley’s home with a pack of cigarettes and a sparking topic of conversation that often burned until the early morning. Garry Perry didn’t know him too well, though. He would often be arriving to Clay Biffley’s flat when Garry Perry was leaving and would often be leaving when Garry Perry was arriving. They were cordial but not friends.
The only biographical information Garry Perry knew about Billy Bulkley was that he was a Simpson Indian from around Prince Rupert.
Prince Rupert itself seemed so much like a mystery. Garry Perry knew that it was so far up north that it almost touched Alaska and that it rained even more there then it did down here. He thought he had read a book that told him about how many people lived up there on only fish and beer. He wondered how anyone could live eating like that. The lifestyle and distance seemed so far away that Garry Perry thought you would have to take a spaceship to get there and once you did it would be difficult to ever leave.
He had no idea how Billy Bulkley came to live in the slough. But he was glad his big hands were on the other side of the coffin because he felt so depressed he wasn’t sure he could make it the whole way to the greenish slough finish line.
Coming to the edge of the cliff that looked over the slough, something strange happened. Billy Bulkley turned his face away from the water, as if looking at it would bring him great pain. He started walking backwards and soon the lack of coordination from Billy Bulkley created a collective stumble motion and all six pall bearers tripped and lost grip of Clay Biffley’s coffin, which subsequently tumbled to the ground – face down.
“Uh, sorry-a-pology,” Billy Bukley said meekly but he wouldn’t look at the slough.
Char McCool raised her arms pointing her index fingers upwards like an maestro before the final gusto. It was well speculated that Char McCool loved having all the eyes on her because it reassured her that there was some merit to her slough-doo even if the rest of the sloughians believed they only listened to humour her. The other five pall bearers picked up the casket in concert and awited the maestro’s orders, who had been chosen to lead the ceremony as her slough-doo was the closest thing to a religious figure they sloughians had. She was also the only one who seemed to get the final speech right.
“Let me tell you, loud man true. You lived a life, quiet in Slough. Where once a life sprang from the begin, you shall slow to become one with the Finn. Sparks fly from all of us, from the fire of life, but we all burn out when sparks become ash, when the taste has no spice. So fear not as we place you in the water that cools. You have joined seabed of great minds not a weak bucket of sad fools.”
And with that they disposed the coffin abruptly in to the water as if Clay Biffley was no more than an old tool that had outlived its use, a screw that had been stripped of its edges. Even the Lulu Island joggers stopped their fast remarks for a brief moment.
ONE MORE SMOKE FOR THE ROAD
9 years ago