WAKE, ZIPLINE by Angelo Maneage

The waters are synchronized. There is a decanter of coffee fuming. Grandma is sad.

Eating pizza, strangely. Songs are playing, strangely, and I catch one directly above the table we are at in this separate room (but all the doors were open, so it was more like a section of a bigger room, like a house is a room with sections of itself). My grandma, aunt, grandpa, my Uncle Bobby are all sitting here, with a few other people and pastries that are covered that I’m told to eat but confused to because they are not eaten.

Pizza boxes were stacked sort of like one row was pepperoni and one wasn’t. They were both cheese. There are eight ounce waters next to them, in a square, being taken in a diagonal. This feels like it means something. Uncle Bobby asks if he could have a pop, but we told him no.

She tells me this exactly that way: “Grandma is sad.” She shows me houses on her phone, ones that she looked at because my grandpa wants to move, Aunt Chrissy shows me a house too. 20 pizza boxes are behind us; Uncle Bobby looks as if he might take the empty ones. The pastor’s wife, I forget her name (I’m not sure if that is rude or not because she remembers mine), talks with my grandma while I’m looking at her phone.

This house is a ranch, it’s red and long. There is a lake by it; grandma loves the lake, she always gets a pass to the one at the city every year. I went with her once and there was a dead bird in the water.

The house is sold.

A voice plays over all of our thoughts. The pastor’s wife is behind me so I give grandma her phone back; I don’t want the wife to touch my head, but she might.

Her voice is sloshy. Sincere about markets, or catering, death, something about money in a donation. Something in or on her eyes that I’m not sure I like; exhaustion in her voice and she always has a limp, but her lids seem to character act. I really might be angry because my mom’s fiancé is tall so his legs have nowhere to go but down while he’s driving; I spilled coffee on my pants I’d just picked up from the tailor.

There is a setting up of a camera. Two voices but mostly one. It’s a bit sloshy. That one starts to talk. It’s definitely Gary. I want to see this. I want to hear it. Everybody is talking; nobody is even eating pizza. Aunt Chrissy tells me this is Gary, but I already knew that. I listen, staring; I get up and push the way to the section where its watched.

A large room; the Gospel House. You can see the pipes or vents, whatever they are, from the ceiling from the floor. Carpeted. Very beige. This is a church that is for ex-mafia men in the local area, and their wives and families; it is very warming.

Pictures of Gary are in stations every 14 steps, I counted. In a collage, not making a larger Gary, but something of that. Like if he were a square, which he wasn’t; he’d smoked in a funeral several times before, jumped in the pool, drank in the car immediately after without putting a towel down.

He always looked old, I’d noticed. Youthful wrinkles, strangely. In a way he never looked healthy, but there was something confusing that with his beam. He would pick you up and put you on his shoulders if you were a certain height and weight, and carry you around, and you would be in the pool, somehow, he would be on your shoulders then, fighting a stranger you’d never seen, laughing, the stranger too, with another stranger you’d might have seen before holding the other up. Splashing in every picture, there’s something hinting at a Hawaiian shirt.

It isn’t really a traditional church or clergy, so I thought maybe that they would have left his body out of our site. And it didn’t feel too good to see him immediately; it felt like I was invading or like I wasn’t prepared, as prepared as he was. I’d never been that close to death, I don’t think. Or influence.

His daughters, crying, congratulated me for graduating college; I’d met them before in younger cases. Congratulations, you.

Wearing my cap, I hugged them, individually. I met a cousin I’d met before, also waiting in line. She’s older, crying. She uses Facebook to look at me, she mentions; she congratulates me.

My mom’s fiancé says he heard about 30 properties the family is keeping and how expensive that is, money, money, people, pool boy, and admiring that reality.  

Gary is surrounded by flowers.

The video projected above a piano on four screens. A still silence, near movement, near the end. One man clapped once, but after that first contact understood that nobody will and began to warm his hands up.

Picture dark, grainy curtains. This is heaven, he says.

I realized my pants were unzipped in the hallway with all the people I’d just met with; at the last funeral I was at, my pants ripped as my grandpa and I lowered his mother’s urn into the ground. I zip them up.

My mom wants to go home. She had been crying for a few years, today especially; I had been weird all day too. She talked about how she’d gotten him an autographed football and how it was displayed on the shrine, I saw, and how good it made her feel. This made me feel good; this made me feel like we’d all missed a point.

I hadn’t been told that they were going to do this, but everybody brought bags of sand and began to fill the room with them. Each section, water is shot in from Pat and firemen outside with hoses. The whole fire department is here. Everybody is here. Even people my aunt works with, and her customers. Dons, city workers; everybody is cheering, dancing in the middle while the filler is poured. An inflated ball is in the crowd. Another. A volley ball net.

We are at the beach. Gary is dead.

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