“Beer?” asks Michael as he sits down on the couch next to Gabrielle.
“Sure,” she says, taking a bottle from him. The glow from the television illuminates his
face as she sneaks a glance in his direction.
“Hope you don’t mind me just showing up like this,” says Michael.
“I don't mind at all,” Gabrielle shrugs, “I’m used to it by now.”
When the movie ends, Michael gets up to go outside and Gabrielle follows him. He sits
down on the curb in front of her apartment and pulls out cigarettes. As he smokes, she peels
the label off her bottle and lets the strips of paper fall to the cement.
“How was work?” asks Gabrielle.
“It was o.k., busy,” says Michael. “I'm so sick of that place.”
Gabrielle stares up at the sky, watching grey clouds roll over the nearly full moon.
Michael scuffs out his cigarette then reaches over and scratches her back.
“You want to go back inside?” he asks.
Nodding, she stands, stretches, and walks back into the apartment. He stands in the living
room as she checks for dirty dishes that need to be put in the sink and for lights that need to
be turned off. She walks into the bedroom and he follows. He takes off his shoes as she clears
off the bed of her clean clothes and schoolbooks. She pulls back the covers, turns off the lights
and they both climb into bed.
The doors swing open to the church. Gabrielle holds on to Bridgette’s arm. Down the aisle,
she sees a long black box. The black box is open. There is something inside. The profile of the
face looks nothing at all like Michael’s after slamming into his steering wheel. The cheeks are
flatter, the nose more pointed. Rather than spiking his hair into its normal shape, the mortician
smoothed it flat against his head. Bridgette walks forward down the aisle, and Gabrielle drifts
along beside her.
The coffin is scattered with offerings from the guests; pictures of a pale blonde little
boy that was at one point Michael; a picture of the cake that had won him a prize in the
culinary program he had been close to completing; pieces of folded paper hold the last good-byes
of those who knew him.
Gabrielle and Bridgette now stand directly in front of the coffin. Gabrielle reaches into
her purse and pulls out a bottle of Guinness, nestles it in the coffin near his right hand and
Gabrielle opens the door, to find Michael standing there.
“Hey, man,” she says. “Come on in.”
“Hey, what you been up to?” he asks.
“Nothing really. Just came back from your funeral.”
“Oh, really?” he asks, sitting down on her couch. “How’d that go?”
“It sucked. You would have hated it. The preacher kept going on about how you were right
with god before you died and how you would be there waiting on us when it was our time,” she
says. Michael chuckles.
“That sounds like the preacher at the church my parents go to. You didn’t stand up and
“No, your mom and girlfriend seemed to be enjoying it, and they technically outrank me.”
“That’s not true.” Michael picks up an empty bottle that sits on the coffee table.
“So what are you going to do now that you are officially dead?” she asks.
“I haven’t really thought that far ahead. Maybe I’ll just wander around and peep in on girls
when they shower.” Michael slowly spins the bottle between the palms of his hands.
“Seriously, isn’t there some sort of light you should be going towards?” she asks.
He looks around.
“Not so far. Maybe there is no light. Maybe they won’t let me up. Maybe I'm stuck here.
Who the hell knows?”
“As long as you're stuck here, you promise to drop by and see me again?”
The bottle that he had been holding a moment ago falls to the coffee table and shatters.