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Leslie Stops the Whole Damn Funeral
by David Breeden

Leslie stopped the whole damned funeral. Which wasn't all that hard—I mean, funerals don't move along like football games or even good TV shows. No. They drag, sort of. Like golf on TV or something like that.

No. Leslie got things stopped right quick-like.

It's not like people don't die or something—high school people die in car wrecks and stuff like that all the time. One of my friends, she fell out of a truck and got her head run over. Things happen. It's not like they don't. It's not like Mike died in a car crash, either. It's not that. It's just that people die and people go to funerals. It happens.

Anyhow, we'd all been sitting there forever. Mike up there, all dolled up in the kind of suit he wouldn't be caught dead in, except he was dead, so his parents could do anything they darn well pleased with him. Three-piece suit. I mean, give me a break.

Leslie, she sat there beside me. And she was doing pretty well. A little sniff once in a while, but pretty good. Through Mike's uncle talking about what a good football player Mike had been. And me and Leslie sitting there, knowing full well that Mike hated football. Just did it to please his folks. Just a little sniff out of Leslie, anyway. And then Mike's sister singing that song. Some kind of Neil Diamond song or something. I don't know. Anyhow, it would make anybody cry it was so awful. But Leslie just sat there and sniffled a little. I just gave her a fresh Kleenex. And me, I wasn't feeling a thing.

Then the preacher. Minister. Whatever those guys call themselves. He didn't even know Mike. Surely didn't know that Mike had decided he was an atheist. Like me. He didn't know Mike smoked dope and cigarettes with me and Leslie every chance he got. Didn't know that, I'm sure. Not by the way he talked. Didn't know about the way we'd drink vodka and laugh till all hours. The three of us.

Anyhow, I know what Leslie was thinking about all through that. Because I was thinking the same thing. She was thinking about how horrible it was that Mike pulled out his handkerchief when he was hunting. How you just can't do that. Somebody's bound to think that's a deer's white tail bouncing and shoot and ask questions later, which is just what they did. That guy. But what are the odds, I want to know. What are the odds? Life does suck.

Then the preacher got all choked up, hearing Mike's mom taking on the way she was. And the preacher slowed down. I know what Leslie was thinking. She was thinking of that last night the three of us had together. How we got really drunk and went walking downtown, the whole town all decked out in Christmas lights. She was thinking about how we ducked into that ally and smoked that joint and then some cigarettes, then went walking some more and how beautiful the lights looked. It was a wonderland, really. Even Christmas carols didn't sound so bad. And Mike there between the two of us. And I don't know if Mike was holding Leslie's hand or not. He was holding mine. I know that. Sometimes he held both. But Leslie didn't know that. No. She never knew how Mike was going to dump her, as soon as he got back from that hunting trip. She didn't know that. And I wasn't going to tell her now was I? Let her believe the way she wants. Let Mike be what she wants him to be in her memory. And I have what I know. That's the way I see it.

But that preacher, or whatever you call him, slowing down. And choking up. And then he looks around the room. Overheated room, with all those warm bodies and one cold body in there. And Leslie's sniffling. Me feeling nothing. And I'm about to give Leslie a fresh Kleenex. Then the preacher, he says, "Is there anybody in the room wants to say some final words?"

Leslie stands up right then. And she stops the whole damn funeral. Right like that. She stands up in Mike's letter jacket and says, "Yes, I have some final words," Leslie says. "I'm pregnant with Mike's baby."

I guess that stopped me too. I dropped the Kleenex box anyhow.

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