The Goodbye Girls' Blog

Funeral: Real Fun

Oh no, not I, I will survive

Aislin texted Sarah that she was running late. She tried to stay within a reasonable approximation of the posted speed limit, but her anxiety gave her a lead foot. Nick was standing in his driveway as she shot past. He raised a hand to flag her down. She tooted her horn but kept going. Look at you, Girl. Slaying your dragons.

She pulled over abruptly, scrolled through her playlists for the soundtrack to Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, selected “I Will Survive,” turned up the volume, rolled down all the windows, and burned out. Her driving horrified a couple picking their way around puddles on the sidewalk. Their disgust gave Aislin the giggles. She raced through the wet streets, rocking and bopping to the music.

As she approached Picnic Park, she increased the volume. She spotted Sarah instructing the tent set up crew. They all turned and stared. She parked beside a delivery truck but didn’t get out right away, just sat there, letting the music pump her up.

Sarah, dance stepped over to the car, singing along loudly to the final lines, did a shimmy shake, then struck a pose with one hand on her hip, the other pointing skyward.

Chasing Sleep

Rain falling heavily on the roof provided the soundtrack for Aislin’s fragmented sleep. It teased her by increasing and decreasing intensity. Each time the flow ceased, she tensed, hoping the storm had moved on. In the vacuum of sound, she relaxed, giving in to her need for sleep, only to startle awake as a new round of rain pounded on the roof.  

Was cancelling due to weather a possibility? With that thought came the image of hundreds of bikers, wet and angry, denied their ritual of sending off one of their own. She had a feeling that bikers were not the fair-weather type. Then she thought of Twiggy’s vest, drenched, draped over his bike, being towed by 10-Gauge. Such a sad, miserable image. But, before she wallowed too far in that puddle of despair, Weronika came to mind. And sprung a new waterspout of anxiety.

A few days ago, Aislin and Sarah, curious about her appearance, did an online search. There were plenty of interviews with her about her missing husband but no photos. In each interview, Weronika said she knew her husband was murdered. She did not come right out and say it, but she implied she knew by whom. 

And when she needed a break from that source of anxiety, her thoughts landed on Twiggy’s extended family. It was Donny’s job to invite Twiggy’s wife and their children to the podium. He tried to wriggle out of the assignment by saying he wasn’t sure how many women Twiggy had married. And what about long-term girlfriends? He had no idea who they were or how many. Was he also supposed to invite them? And what constituted long term? More than a week? Sarah had fingertwacked her brother.

Aislin The Ageist

“Gran, dinner’s ready!” she called up the stairs. No answer. Aislin bounced up the stairs and tapped on Letty’s door. No answer. Letty’s car was sitting exactly as it had been all day. Aislin slipped her shoes on and went out to The Behemoth. At that point, she began to have a slow-motion, out-of-body experience. From afar, to a chorus of birdsong, she saw her hand reaching out to knock on the metal door. She saw herself leaning over to peer through the window by the door. She saw herself peering at Letty and Otto tangled together on the sofa. She saw them turning towards the window and looking back at her. She saw her shock reflected in their faces. 

She spun and scrambled back to the house. Grabbing the bag of chips and her wine, she flew upstairs, slamming the door behind her. She texted Sarah. 

Sarah called immediately, but her words were lost in a volley of snorting laughter. “Sorry, I can’t stop laughing. You stumbled into your gran and her lover getting it on! God, I hope I meet someone I want to get it on with when I am seventy-five. That’s just the best. I can picture your face.”

Sarah continued to snort and snuffle wetly. She stopped long enough to blow her nose. “Sorry. Under control now. Come on. You must have known this was on the horizon. The sexual tension between those two was intense. Why are you so horrified? They are both well over the age of consent.”

Calmness Through Order

He waved his hand, silencing her retort. He picked up a sandwich, studied its contents, took a large bite and chewed slowly, nodding. Three more bites and the sandwich was history. “Oh, I needed that. Sometimes I go too long between snacks or meals, and I feel a bit faint. Beverly, bless her, always kept a full assortment of snacks in her desk, which she pushed at me throughout the day to keep me fueled. After a Scotch, I used to go in there in the evenings to see what I could rustle up. Not sure why I never bought my own snacks. I think it was the joy of doing something illicit, however minor. I do miss her.

“So, back to you. You and your best friend, your soulmate, your business partner had a difficult conversation that led you to pack your bags and leave. Without saying goodbye to your grandmother. Or taking your turtle. Am I on track here?”

She stared at him. She was so invested in nurturing her anger she had forgotten all about Secretariat. She had impetuously packed up and moved numerous times, and he was always with her. He was her one constant companion. If it had not begun to hail, she would have driven off without him. A tide of shame rolled over her.

“I guess I really am the shallow, selfish, self-absorbed twit everyone says I am.”

Winds Of Turmoil

As Aislin drove home, gale force winds gathered force deep within her. She jammed the car into park, slamming the door behind her, not bothering to lock, then stormed the house.  

As Otto watched her from the window of The Behemoth, his phone vibrated. He glanced at it, saw Nick’s number but let it go through to voicemail. He slipped out, locked the door, and hurried down the street. 

The house shook as Aislin walloped the front door closed, jarring Letty upstairs in her room. Letty carefully crept across the floor, avoiding the creaky spots and quietly closed her door. 

Aislin burst into the kitchen, looking for her grandmother, looking for a fight. She scanned the garden. Letty usually left a trail of tools and debris, but it was devoid of all signs of occupation. Letty’s car was in its usual spot, yet there was no sign or sound of her in the house. 

She poured a glass of cold water and sat at the table. A few days ago, in this same room, she felt surrounded by love and a sense of belonging. Now, as she looked around, she felt nothing.

Damn The Torpedoes

Weronika thinks she knows enough to put us in a jam if she’s so inclined. She doesn’t have facts, but she has an inkling. A gut feeling that her man is no more,” said Donny. “And she’s a street fighter. She is not afraid to skin her knuckles or bloody the nose of someone else. If she feels slighted, ignored or ‘managed,’ she will capitalize on that inkling to inflict maximum pain and suffering.”

“So what do we do? We can’t do a simultaneous event for her murdering husband because officially, he’s not dead. Awkward!” said Sarah, sitting back dramatically.

Letty’s eyes drilled into Sarah, who squirmed under the intensity. “You do realize you are speaking about a crime? A crime that we are helping cover-up? It’s somewhat more than awkward. What has happened to your morals?”

No one spoke as they digested the reality pill Letty just served up. In the silence, Aislin studied Otto’s face. If any of them was capable of restarting the conversation without further igniting Letty, it was him.

Living Life Large

When everyone had served themselves and settled at the table, Otto cleared his throat. “Today, at long last, I have fulfilled my lifelong wish: I lived up to my last name ‘Lawless.’ As a child, in my fantasy life, I was a daredevil, a rule-breaker, a ne’er do well. In reality, I was a rule follower, an ethical business owner, a taxpayer, and a paycheque producer. Today, I broke the rules! I was in a biker clubhouse. The RCMP pulled me over for the first time in my life, and I’m 79 years old! I was license revoking professionally unethical, and it was the most fun I have ever had.”

Donny hand clapped the table making everyone jump. “Hear, hear! Otto, my man, you are an inspiration to all us young, law-abiding dullards. Hope fills my breast.”

Sarah turned to her brother. “What are you going on about? You’ve never been law-abiding. Ever.”

“Shush now, sister, and let the good man speak. He has more on his chest he needs to share.”

Heading To Hell

Letty untangled herself first. “Enough of that,” she said, patting her hair back into place. “Shall we have drinks in the garden so you two can fill us in on what you’ve been through? Aislin, go fetch Nick.”

A rush of happiness flooded her weary body. Nick was sitting on the front steps looking at his phone. “Hey, join us in the garden for drinks for the debrief. Letty’s orders.”

He shook his phone at her. “Something’s come up. Would have enjoyed the debrief but duty calls.” 

“Bummer. Another lethargic turtle? I like to think I am your only turtle-owning client.”

Nick grinned. “I hate to break it to you, but you aren’t my only turtle-owning client because you didn’t keep your appointment; ergo, you’re not a client. Remember?” His face deflated as his smile faded. “It’s a personal, not professional matter.” He stood up, stretched and sighed. “I’ve avoided it as long as humanly possible. You know what they say, ‘You can run, but you’re just going to die tired.’”

Three’s A Crowd

Arriving at Letty’s brought more shockwaves. Squeezed into the driveway was Otto’s enormous RV. The beige and brown exterior wore a patina of green mould. Its enormity dwarfed the garage.

Standing in front of the RV were Nick and Letty. Aislin twitched as she resisted the impulse to pull down the visor to check her appearance. If she looked as wrung out and ragged as she felt, it was best not to know.

“The Behemoth will look less imposing once it’s been power washed. I may have to ask Nick for assistance. I tried to do it last week, but I was standing too close and the force of the water blew me onto my ass,” Otto said by way of apology. “It’s a good sign that they’re talking, isn’t it? I know Letty has harboured ill feelings towards Nick for years.”

“She’s built those ill feelings into a towering inferno.” Aslin was unsure of the best approach. Letty looked steamed. She decided on a charm offensive.

“Gran! Nick! You have no idea how wonderful it is to see you.”

Love Lies Bleeding

Aislin was suddenly profoundly exhausted. And she still needed to eat.

“Was a lunch break part of our itinerary? I’m so hungry I can’t remember what we’re supposed to do next. Beverly had just handed me some food when Theo burst in and started in on her. Why is she still there if it’s just a side gig and she has her own business?”

Beverly has been a joy to work with from the very first day she arrived. Her commitment to her craft is a gift. She truly cares about people’s appearance, dead or alive. She has been integral to the business. And to my sanity. As questionable as that may be at this moment. But, she understood that I needed to sell. I am deeply sorry the only interested party was the Thunbergers.”

“How much does she know about what we’re up to?”

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