In front of me on the altar lies my best friend Arturo, cold, grey, and dead in a box. Arturo’s mother cries throughout the service, silently soaking her dainty handkerchief with tears and snot. Beside her, his father holds the sans-handkerchief hand, looking stoic and strong, but the heavy lines of his face reveal the war this tragedy has caused inside his head. Oh, poor babies. Is it wrong to feel so little when so many people are mourning?
His sister Eva—god, she looks tight today in that black dress—speaks after the priest gives his eulogy, generic but comforting to those who would have it. She is so sincere. I am impressed. She says they all miss Arturo, his bright smile, his laugh, his winning attitude. That it is such a tragedy to have one so young taken from them before he had the chance to affect the world. Cut down in the spring time of his life. Strong and handsome, Arturo was a man who loved his family, his friends, his country, his God.
I zone out.
I imagine the taste of her lip gloss on my lips, something fruity, sparkles smeared on my face. I try and imagine the color of her panties. I stare at her tits gently jiggling in her dress as she gesticulates meaningfully during her speech, adding appropriate emphasis to the most poignant, heart-felt moments, when his auntie who is sitting next to me grabs my hand and looks deeply into my eyes. Hers are filled with tears, red, swollen. I do my best to play it like I have been captivated by Eva’s words rather than staring at her amazing rack, but the woman is so lost in her sadness that I could have been screaming and cursing and throwing things across the church pews and she still would have thought I was displaying a sensible expression of grief over Arturo, my sweet lost best friend.
Eva finishes and sits and some cousin who I have never met comes up and plays some sad sounding song on the piano I don’t know but which really opens the water works in the crowd. I hide my face in my hands to avoid any more sincere exchanges of misery. I close my eyes, enjoying the darkness, and press my palms hard into my eye sockets. Hopefully the redness the pressure causes will be enough to convince people I have been suffering silently, tears barely held back in this moment of extreme loss.
Oh, poor Arturo. If only you were here to see how hot your sister looks today.
With my head swimming, full of Eva, I notice myself coming to half-mast—probably best not to stand up from the pew with a boner—I fill my head with all the unsexy thoughts I can muster: my sixth grade homeroom teacher, the homeless man who used to pee on my window and then shit himself while napping on my block, taxes, the rotten fish smell of the wharf on a hot summer day. I focus so hard on not getting hard that I barely notice when the funeral procession begins. Arturo’s dad passes me, misinterprets my attempts to thwart my erection as grief-induced detachment, and places his hand on my shoulder in a show of support.
“Come, David,” he says, “let’s pay our final respects.”
I look up at him, my eyes still glazed and red from the pressure of my palms, and nod silently. As one of the pallbearers—it’s me, his father, three of his male cousins, and some ridiculous curly haired guy he went to college with—I take my place at the head of casket opposite his father, good old Gus, and cast my eyes across the solemn, expectant crowd. They are all miserable. I hope that none of them can tell that I feel nothing for Arturo right now. It is the living sibling I am more concerned with at this point.
I catch Eva’s eyes and think I read the briefest glimmer of a message there. Hope for later? A promise? Is she thinking about me as much as I am thinking about her? I shudder and close my eyes, my lips pursed, and swallow hard. I conjure unsexy thoughts at a heretofore unreached pinnacle of torturousness. I grimace at the choice scenes playing across my mind’s eye.
Gus catches my revealing facial expression and says to me, “It’s ok. You can let it out, son. It’s ok to let go.” Gus, if I let go of the careful mental balancing act happening inside my head right now, I would bear your son’s coffin down this aisle with my cock like diamond, laughing at how stupid you all look.
I decide against letting go.
The casket lifts slightly and I take the cue and we start leading it down the aisle of the Roman Catholic church holding the service, with its idols and stations of the cross and blood sacrifice. Roman Catholics are a strange bunch. I do not and will never fully understand their mysteries. Gus is a believer though, and Arturo’s mom, Adoracion, well, just look at her name. I feign it for them, if only so they don’t suspect.
We make it halfway down the aisle when a woman wails and throws herself on the coffin. Her weight makes my arm hurt. I turn and place my other hand on her and realize that it is Adoracion in the flesh. She grabs my lapels, tears streaming down her cheeks, and collapses into me. Eva grabs her mother and I hand her off, but not before Eva lightly brushes my hand with her own. I nod to them both with as much gravitas as I can muster and continue down the aisle, my hand still tingling from the electricity in Eva’s touch.
A hearse waits for us at the bottom of the stairs leading down from the entrance of the church. Much of the audience, if you want to call them that, lines the stairs on either side of the path to the hearse. The rest of the onlookers file out behind us. Solemnly, with tremendous weight and importance, we lead the wood and metal box containing the sad, empty flesh of poor, sweet Arturo into the back of the hearse and shut the rear door. Tears erupt in the crowd when the latch connects, signaling the very last car ride Arturo will ever take. I am tempted to call shotgun.