Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Episode 35 - A Good Send Off

The funeral procession left the church and made its way down to the cemetery at the edge of the village. Michael put on his dark glasses and took a fresh white handkerchief from his pocket. Wiping the sweat from his brow he led the mourners to the cemetery behind Sonny’s white coffin bedecked with blood red roses.

The tiny church had been standing room only with all the mourners and Michael was amazed to see that some of the locals were standing along the road down to the cemetery with heads bowed, as the procession passed.

At the cemetery Michael stood next to the priest as Sonny’s coffin was lowered into the newly dug grave. Staring down into the open grave Michael felt nothing but contempt for his dead lover. The hurt he felt when he saw Sonny and Carl together in Barcelona had grown so much that Michael’s head was swimming with hate. As the first spade full of soil hit the coffin Michael collapsed by the side of the grave.
‘Oh the poor chap’ said Malcolm rushing over to try and catch Michael as he fell ‘it’s all too much for him’
‘And this heat doesn’t help’ muttered Ken ‘it’s a wonder no one else has fainted.’
Gloria rushed over to help as Malcolm supported a sobbing Michael for the rest of the service.
As the priest made his final sign of the cross over the grave, Malcolm lead Michael back to his car and drove him back to the villa.
‘If you’d rather we all left’ said Michal putting a glass of cold water into Michael’s still shaking hands. ‘I will explain to everyone that you would rather be on your own’
‘No, I’m OK now, please let everyone in. Sonny deserves a good send off and some of his friends have travelled along way to be here. It would be rude to send them away without at least having some refreshments.’
‘Of course, of course, I’ll go and arrange the drinks for everyone’ said Malcolm glad of the excuse to leave Michael in Gloria’s capable hands.
‘It’s OK Gloria, you go with him. I just need a minute by myself’
‘Right you are dear. I’ll get Fliss to help me with the buffet’ said Gloria switching seamlessly into organising mode.
Michael took off his jacket and loosening his black tie walked into the bathroom. Splashing the cool water over his face and neck he looked at his reflection in the mirror, it was just a touch of the sun, he thought, that’s all. Drying his still shaking hands on the towel he walked back into the lounge.
Fliss had thrown open the patio doors and most of the mourners were standing outside in the shade. Michael walked amongst the crowd accepting condolences and slowly made his way over to the drinks table set up by the pool.
‘I’ve poured you a scotch on the rocks, you look like you need it’
Michaels’ heart stopped as he turned to see Carl holding the glass out to him.
‘You have been so brave Michael, I was just saying to Andy and Gerry that I really admire the way you have coped with everything. I know that Sonny would have been so proud of you trying to fight off those robbers.’
‘I didn’t do anything’ stumbled Michael as he sipped he cold whisky ‘I didn’t have a chance; it was all over so quickly.’
‘Bastards, I hope they rot in hell’. Said Carl ‘Poor Sonny, he was such a dear, he wouldn’t hurt a fly.’
Except me, thought Michael.
‘The last time we met’ continued Carl ‘was in Barcelona. I was over with Andy and Gerry looking for the bar. Sonny was so happy, we had a lovely day and he was really looking forward to telling you about their proposal.’
‘What proposal?’ asked Michael, this was getting far too confusing, maybe it was the heat or maybe it was just the strain of being on show but Michael was starting to sweat.
‘Andy and Gerry had offered him top billing at their new bar. He was thrilled, no more travelling back to the UK for work and leaving you for weeks at a time. He was telling us how happy you had made him and how he wanted you to come out to Barcelona with him when he was performing. It would be just like a holiday, he said’ Carl covered his face as he tried in vain to hold back the tears. ‘I’m sorry Michael, I promised myself I wouldn’t cry. The last thing you need is me blubbing away.’
‘Don’t worry, would you like to use the en-suite and freshen up?’ asked Michael as he led Carl into the house. ‘Take as long as you need’ he added ‘I’d better circulate, will you be OK on your own?’
‘Sonny was right’ sniffed Carl ‘you are a kind man’
Michael walked back through the house and stood alone in the kitchen.
‘Oh my God’ he sobbed ‘what have I done. Is that what Sonny was trying to tell me, why didn’t I give him a chance to explain, why didn’t I listen to him?’
Sinking to his knees and sobbing Michael didn’t hear Clara as she walked through the open door and into the kitchen.
‘Come on Michael, I think its time you had a rest, it’s been a long day. Don’t worry about your guests Gloria and Fliss are there to look after them. I think that you’d be better trying to have a little sleep.’ Clara said as she lifted Michael from the floor and gently steered him towards the bedroom.
Handing him a sleeping pill from the little pill pot in her handbag Clara poured Michael a glass of water. ‘Here take this, it’s not strong, it’ll just help you sleep for a while.’
Wordlessly Michael washed the sleeping pill down and passed Clara the empty glass.
‘That’s good, now you lie on the bed and get comfortable. Don’t worry about a thing. I’ll stay and clear up when everybody’s gone, you just sleep.’ As she closed the bedroom door Michael’s eyes were already closing. Walking back through the house Clara smiled to herself. Well well she thought, it looks like I’m not the only one who has a secret round here.