Please Send This Author Comments!
This page last viewed: 2017-06-23 and has been viewed 1515 times
The Eulogy-How Do You Sum up
Rating: PG-13 for mild violence and cursing
Warnings: character death
All reviews welcome.
I came back from therapy in a happy mood. Dr. Richter was on leave—boating around in the
But I digress. I was in a happy mood, but then the orderly let me in my room and I saw
I just stood there—staring at him. He stood up and looked back at me, as if he were searching for the right words to tell me.
"Face…." He started to say and then stopped.
I looked away, waiting for him to finish.
"We aren't sure that he's dead,"
What was I supposed to say to that? I mean, he comes in here and tells me that my best friend in the world is just gone and what am I supposed to say? He didn't say anything else either, just looked over my shoulder at the door.
"He could have…" I started to say, then stopped. Face could be alive, but not likely. Hannibal and B.A. wouldn't have stopped searching if they thought there was a chance.
"Who…who did this?" I asked.
"Rivals of the guy we were after, we guess,"
I nodded and grabbed my bag from underneath my bed. "How are you going to scam me out?" I asked as I shoved some slacks and t-shirts into my bag. I paused. I didn't really have a nice suit to wear, in case there was a…and Face kept my uniform in storage.
I nodded. That was typical Face. He made scams look so easy even if he did whine about them.
B.A. was in the van, keeping a watch out for Decker. He didn't say one word to me, not one, as I got in, just pulled out slowly and drove till we got to the orphanage.
"You want me to…" I asked.
"Keep watch for what?" I muttered. B.A. and I didn't say anything while we waited. Wasn't anything to say, really.
"Maghill wants to know if we want to pray with him in the chapel," he said. B.A. and I looked at each other and then got out of the van. I'd never been inside the orphanage before, but I'd heard Face talk about it. The chapel was tiny and I remembered that Face said he once got into trouble for running a dice game in the back row on Sundays. Had to polish all the pews for two weeks as part of his punishment. I rubbed my hand on the smooth wood and then knelt.
Father Maghill prayed aloud for us, but I don't remember what he said. Something about Face resting with God now and I hoped it was true, because if anyone needed rest it was Face. All that scamming, skirt chasing, shooting, and taking care of me must have been hard work. Me. Who was I going to call in the middle of the night now? I opened my eyes and glanced at
At last they were through praying. "If there's anything that I can do," Father Maghill said.
"There is one thing,"
"Anyone else?" he asked.
"Leslie Bectall—'cept she's a nun now, down in.." I said. Father Maghill nodded.
"Father, Face left most of his money to this place,"
"I trust that you'll take care of it when you get a chance," Father Maghill said.
And that was it. No body to bury. No funeral to arrange. Just pray some and divide up the money. After we left the orphanage. B.A. and Hannibal stopped at their places and grabbed their things. Then we went to Face's latest beach house. He'd been renting this one—no scams—or so he'd told
"Probably just one of Face's dates,"
"What time was he released?" the voice said.
I recognized that voice. I pushed my way past
"So Murdock isn't due back for a few days? I'll try him then. Thanks!" he said and hung up the telephone. "Geez, you guys are hard to reach." He sank down onto a small kitchen chair.
"You look bad, kid,"
I put down the gun and walked out, right past B.A. who was standing in the dining room now, apparently unsure of what to say, so he was pretending to keep watch.
"Got twenty bucks I can borrow?" I asked. He flipped his wallet over to me and I got the money I needed out. Didn't ask me why I needed it.
"Murdock, Face says there's a first aid kit in the upstairs bathroom and grab some towels too,"
"It's movie night and they're showing
"Captain Murdock, get your ass back here now!"
"I'd just be in the way," I said lamely and then was ashamed. Face wouldn't leave me in that shape. I turned around and went back with
He'd lost blood. More than a pint, he said. "They were pissed when they found out I wasn't Murphy's accountant. That's they only reason they took me off the boat before it exploded. Caught me going through the ledgers and I just played along. Guess you didn't notice, but I was in one of the carts the catering people were pushing around," he shook his head. "Didn't anyone make survive?"
"Doesn't look like it,"
"Not even the little …" Face stopped. "Murphy's grandchildren were on the boat. What kind of monster kills little kids?"
"Took out a gun to shoot me but I jumped overboard. The shot at the water, but it only winged me. I floated like I was dead, though, so they took off," Face explained. "Then I just made my way back here. Tried calling the van a couple of times."
"Just make it neat," Faced joked. "The last time you stitched me up the scar looked awful."
"I'll do my best,"
I went back to the kitchen while
By the time that the coffee was ready, Face was on the couch, snuggled under a blanket, dozing. I handed
"I'll take B.A.'s coffee to him,"
"Stay," he said, just as softly, but insistent. "Face needs you."
I sat down. Face was breathing in soft little sighs, like he was in pain. He might not even be asleep, just too tired to keep his eyes open. I leaned forward. His skin was pale from the loss of blood and his eye was swelling shut. I hated it when the bad guys beat Face's, well, face. He could cover up all the other bruises but I'd have to look at the ones on his face for weeks until they finally faded. I leaned a little closer and brushed some hair out of his eyes.
He opened his blue eyes and smiled at me. "Thanks, Murdock" he mumbled. "Hey, can I have something to drink?"
I didn't say anything, just sat there looking at him. He smiled at me for a moment and then I saw worry creep into his eyes. "You okay?" he asked, struggling to sit up. I just stared at him.
"Come here," He said, patting the couch beside him. Without speaking, I moved over and sat next to him and he covered us both with the blanket.
"I'm sorry. That must have been rough. But as you can see, I'm alive. Pinch me," he said gently. I turned away.
"I have to go. They are showing
"Okay," Face nodded, obviously hurt but not arguing. "Tell
B.A. didn't say anything to me on the way back to the V.A. B.A. hadn't said anything, I realized, not even when we'd found Face in the kitchen. I grabbed my bag and headed to my room. If I hurried, then I could still get some of the popcorn.
Lunch came and went, and dinner and before I knew it, a week had passed and it was movie night again. One of the orderlies knocked on the door and told me the movie was starting soon, but I didn't move. "Come on, it's your favorite,
Another knock later, but this time it wasn't the orderly, it was Face. "Mind if I come in?" he asked.
"Yeah," I said, but I really did mind. He walked wearily into the room and sat down. I could tell that he was still hurting from the dark circles under his eyes and they way he walked slightly bent over.
"Why aren't you in bed still?" I asked.
"Can't rest," he said. He leaned against the wall. "Besides,
"Thought it was your favorite movie," he said, after a moment. I shrugged. He nodded as if he understood.
"Murdock," he turned and looked straight at me. "It must have been terrible, thinking I was dead. I keep trying to imagine it the other way around. You gone and me…."
"You can't imagine it," I said, but I didn't know where the words were coming from. "If I got whacked tomorrow, you…" I got up and started pacing. "You were dead and I didn't even pray for you. All I could think of was…was how you weren't going to be there to get things for me anymore. Like a banjo. I want a banjo. I didn't even pray for you, Face."
"Okay," Face said.
"What do you mean, okay?" I asked. "It's not just okay. I should have….said something or did something or got you flowers or something."
"Do it now," Face said. I looked at him, not understanding what he meant. "Throw me a funeral. A big one. Flowers and women standing around weeping and everything. And you can give the eulogy."
"You're not dead," I protested. Sometimes Face was crazier than I was.
"No, I'm not." He agreed pleasantly. "But if I'm dead I won't be around for you to tell me how sorry you are that I am dead." He ignored my baffled look. "And, too, they'll probably dress me in a brown suit. I don't look too good in brown. This way I'll be sure to look good."
"And you want to lie in the coffin and have everyone go by and say how natural you look?" I asked, picturing the scene in my mind. He pretended to consider the idea.
"That might be a little too much for B.A. to handle," he said sadly. "B.A.'s been walking around punching things."
"Yeah?" I asked.
"Yeah, can't figure out if he's mad I'm not dead or not," Face laughed wryly.
"He's not mad you're not dead—he's just mad that he had to think you were dead," I assured him.
"Really? Think of that. I hear people do and think some crazy things when they first hear the news," Face said, looking at me carefully. "Too much of a shock."
I looked down at the floor. "Face, I'm sorry. I should have…and then when you weren't I just…"
"Apology accepted," Face said, before I started talking again. "But if you really want to make it up to me, you'll throw me a funeral. Thank of it as a dry run."
"Don't even joke about it," I protested. "I'm going first."
Face shook his head. "I don't know if I could handle that. But I'll settle for a nice dinner—but I still want the flowers and eulogy." His watch alarm beeped.
"Got to go, I've been in here too long," he said.
"Do you need me?" I asked. He shook his head.
"No," he said gently. "
I could tell he was serious.
I sat on the bed, crossed legged again, and thought. I couldn't even figure out how to scam a banjo. I was an inmate of an insane asylum. How was I supposed to plan, prepare, and execute a dinner party. I didn't even know who to invite. Well, no, I did. Us, Amy, and Father Maghill. I wandered down the hall to find a telephone directory.
I heard from
I was sneaking back in one morning when it suddenly dawned on me. I really didn't need Face to break me out every time. Well, if they caught me going back and forth they'd plug up my rabbit hole, a loose screen on the windows and then a hole in the fence. But even if they did, I could still figure a way out. I had both times I needed to before—when B.A. got shot near Bad Rock and then when they all got caught by Lynch. And it was a good thing to, because both times it had gotten a little hairy. I remembered how Face had stood there, his hands tied behind his back, the look he'd had when his cigarette had gone out. He'd thought he was about to get shot full of holes. He hadn't known I was there, waiting for the right moment to lob my flare.
It was a few minutes to six when I slipped back into my room. Betty would be bringing me my morning medicines soon. I hurriedly cleaned up. The staff was worried about me sleeping during the day so much. I knew they'd even called Richter in the
Face's favorite restaurant was catering and I had already rented a beach house. I figured that it would take me only a few hours to get everything set up and decorated. The only thing really left to do was to write Face's…a speech for Face. Didn't know what to say though. Maybe it will come to me later. I rolled over and fell asleep.
"Yep," I said to my image in the mirror above my sink, "still pissed at me."
B.A. pretended to be an orderly picking me up for some medical tests at another hospital. Didn't say two words to me and I knew he was still pissed at me too. Face was happy to see me, though he still looked weak-too weak.
"Got a secondary infection," he explained, waving me over to the table where he was sitting. "Worked on that assignment I gave you?" his voice fell to a whisper. I nodded.
"Just need a date," I whispered back, glancing over at Hannibal who was looking at us unamusedly.
"A date for what?"
"Nothing important," Face declared, "how long do you think this case is going to run us?"
"What do I do?" Face asked.
"Stay here and let Murdock keep an eye on you,"
The next few days were weird, even for me. Face slept a lot or else lay on the couch and pretended to watch TV. I wanted to talk things over with him, but he was too tired to even whine. B.A. and Hannibal switched off watching the marks. When they were at the hide-out, they were asleep, or checking on Face. "Mostly just ignoring me," I thought, "but I deserve it."
I spent my time chewing on a pencil and tearing up paper. Still didn't know what to write. I glanced over at Face who was sitting at the kitchen table, alternately dozing and eating some soup. His skin was still too pale and his hair needed cutting. It didn't even look like he'd washed or combed it today. I walked over and put a hand on his forehead. It was warm again.
"Come on, Face," I said, pulling him to his feet. "Let me tuck you back in bed and shove some more pills down your throat."
"K," he mumbled.
After he was settled back in bed and had swallowed some aspirin, he grasped my hand. "Stay," he said. I sat down on the bed next to him.
"How's Billy?" he asked.
"Off visiting," I said. "Off visiting….Amy. He went to see Amy."
"Pity. I kind of miss the mutt," he mumbled. I tucked the blankets around him tightly.
"Sleep," I ordered.
"Can't. Bored," he closed his eyes though for a few minutes, then, without opening them, "what are you trying to write?"
"Uh, nothing," I gulped.
"No," he guesses and opened his eyes. There was a twinkle in them. "It's my eulogy. What do you have so far?"
"You're morbid," I said, "and I'm not telling. It's going to be a surprise." Especially to me.
He looked disappointed. "Well, what are we going to eat?" he whined.
"Not telling," I teased. "You'll just have to wait." He sighed dramatically, but didn't try to weasel any further information from me before he rolled over and went to sleep.
Face nodded. "Just tell me what you have in mind."
"He had a fever this afternoon," I protested.
"I'm fine, Murdock," Face tried to assure me, but I wasn't buying it. He must have read my expression. "Murdock, they murdered little girls. Little girls. They're like rabid dogs that need to be put down."
What was I supposed to say to that?
"And Murdock can be my date for lunch," Face said, straightening his tie. For some reason he had insisted on wearing one of his most expensive suits and nicest tie, though he'd complain incessantly for weeks if they got ruined. "And," he went on, "the lunch tab gets taken out of the case fund." He was speaking lightly, but I knew he was covering up how nervous he was. The way he kept straightening his tie and running his fingers through his hair gave him away though. I glanced at
"Just don't order the filet mignon,"
The restaurant was an expensive little place near the marina. Face and I arrived early, before the lunch rush. We studied our menus for a few minutes, checking out ear pieces and the listening device we had planted, just in case. B.A. lingered nearby, looking snappy in his white apron.
The waiter came over and started to list the specials of the day. Face waved a hand. "We'll each have lobster and filet mignon and some of this wine," he said, pointing to something on the wine list. I heard
The food arrived before the bad guys did, but Face only ate a few bites of each dish. He didn't even touch the wine. But he kept encouraging me to eat and drink. "Can't get food like this in the hospital cafeteria."
Fielding didn't see us when he first arrived, didn't notice much of anything, too busy being lord of all he surveyed. Everyone scurried around, bringing him wine, flowers for his table, and fresh bread. It was a few minutes before everything settled down. Face put down his fork and waited patiently. At last one of the Fielding's monkeys glanced over towards us and paled. He tugged at Fielding's sleeve and pointed. Fielding's mouth fell open when he saw Face. I almost laughed at him.
Face smiled and raised a glass to Fielding, then sipped it very slowly. Fielding paled, but still didn't say anything. He turned away, angrily, and then rose, whispering angry orders to his entourage. They left the restaurant, visibly shaking.
"Well, that went pretty easy,"
"We'll have a take-out bag," he said. He sounded tired again, now that his fun was done. Out in the car he buckled himself in and then closed his eyes. I leaned over and touched his forehead. Another low-grade fever.
"Home and straight to bed," I said, turning the key in the ignition.
"You think I'll tumble in bed just for some steak and wine," Face mumbled. I laughed a little.
"There's a rumor going around that you're easy," I said. I backed the car out carefully and then eased down the street, checking for a tail. There was a car following us, but it was just B.A. Hannibal must have sent him back to keep an eye on us.
The radio squawked and I picked it up. "This is Howling Mad," I said.
"You got a bird on the wing," B.A.'s voice came over.
"Yeah, I see you," I said back.
"I think he means that cab," Face said, sitting up and pulling his gun out of his shoulder holster.
"What do we do?" I asked.
"Just let him follow us," Face said. "Too bad we have to ruin out hide-out. That's a nice little house. I was hoping we could use it again."
I made a left, heading back towards the marina. "I know a place we can go," I said. It only took about ten minutes to get to the beach house I had rented. The stuff I had collected was piled up along the wall in the dining room.
"Is this where you picked for my party?" Face asked. He poked through some of the boxes. B.A. slipped in through the back carrying a large machine gun.
"Cab's parked outside," he said. "Probably contacting Fielding."
Face nodded. "Is the telephone on, Murdock? Better call
I stepped into the kitchen to call the van. When I came back Face was sitting on the floor, leafing through one of the boxes of photos I had found in one of the storage lots. B.A. stood near one of the windows, keeping watch.
"We took this one on leave in
"Put those down, fool, cabbie's got company," B.A. said, stepping back from the window. "Five. Two's going round back."
Face put the photos down reluctantly and pulled out his handgun. I pulled mine out as well and double-checked to see if it was loaded. We were surrounded and outgunned. Too bad
With one look between us, we retreated to the front bedroom. There was a door there, leading directly to the balcony, so we wouldn't be boxed in. B.A. stepped into the closet and slid the door shut. We could already hear them, moving around in kitchen and living area. I crouched down next to the dresser. It'd give me partial cover if they came through the door. Face glanced around, then lay down on the bed as if he'd passed out, his gun tucked under his body.
The first one to step through the door was a large goon wearing a bad, bad, brown suit. "hey, in here," he shouted when he spotted Face. He hadn't even noticed me. I felt like jumping up and shouting, "Here I am!"
Face didn't move. The others swarmed in behind the first. "Where's the other one?" the guy who was obviously the leader said, coming close to the bed.
"Get up," one of the goons prodded Face. Face lay there limply. "Hey! Move it."
They were so focused on Face they still hadn't noticed me. "I said get up," the goon said again. He leaned down and slapped Face's cheek, hard. In one smooth move B.A. stepped out of the closet and placed the barrel of the gun against the leader's head.
"Don't move," he said quietly. All eyes whirled to him. I stood up and pointed my gun too. The man who had hit Face yelped when Face sat up and pointed the gun straight at him. A few minutes later all five were stripped down to their shorts and tied up in the dining room under B.A.'s watchful eye. I patrolled the house, every so often stopping to glare at the goons. What a bunch of idiots. Who fell for such an obvious trap?
Face had fallen asleep, curled up on the bed under a warm blanket. He looked peaceful, but flushed. His fever was rising again. "We need to get him back to the house. We'll leave these nuts for the police. I've already sent them the tapes we made. Fielding babbled everything to one of his henchmen in the car after seeing Face."
"He wanted a what?" he asked. "And you've been busy getting it all set up?"
"Yeah, it's kind of my …um, well I guess it's his way of punishing me for being such an ass," I said, looking at my sleeping friend. I heard
"A funeral is what he wants, a funeral is what he gets. Got the eulogy ready?" he said, slapping me on the back. I groaned. There was no getting out of it.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, the funeral was delayed while the deceased struggled to recuperate. Face's secondary infection lingered.. Finally
The day of the party arrived and I still didn't have it written. Me, who runs off at the mouth all the time, couldn't think of what to say. B.A. picked me up the night before so I could get everything ready; he even helped set up the tables. Amy caught a cab from the airport. Sweet Amy. She looked so classy in the little red dress and pearls. Father Maghill arrived, two bottles of whiskey in each hand.
Amy smiled at one of the pictures. It was of the team and Trish at the baby's christening. Face was holding Little Ray and smiling down at the child. I swallowed. Face hadn't had the chance to have children of his own.
At last the guest of honor arrived, wearing a beautiful white suite with a silk shirt and a new tie. Everyone hugged him and laughed. Everyone but me. I stayed in the back, fussing with the food, until it was ready to serve.
"Amy, you look so good in that dress. I might have to put an new entry in my book," Face said, grinning at her wolfishly.
"Oh, which volume?" she retorted, laughing. Father Maghill poured whiskey all around.
"Whiskey? Where's the champagne?" Face pretended to complain.
"Whiskey's the proper drink for a wake, boy," Father Maghill chided. "Did you learn nothing from me?"
"Nothing but how to get into trouble," B.A. said, sipping his water. "You are the noisiest dead person I ever met. You may be wearing white, but I don't think it's gonna fool the angels."
Everyone thought that was the funniest line they'd heard in years. Face laughed and smoothed his tie, then looked at me and winked.
"Is this a funeral or a roast?" Face asked.
"If it's your funeral, it's sure to be roasting soon after,"
Soon dinner was gone and it was time for the speech. I nervously stood up and cleared my throat. It didn't help that I was on my fifth glass of whiskey. Everyone looked at me expectantly.
"I was supposed to write the eulogy, you know, some pretty words and sum up Face's life. I don't think I can, though. I just know that," I paused and took another gulp of whiskey. "Billy! Billy came back." I leaned down and patted my dog on top its head and then put down the rest of my dinner for him.
"My speech, Murdock" Face said insistently.
"Oh, yeah," I said. Where had I been? "Uh, glad you aren't dead." I sat down again. Face groaned.
"That was what I've looked forward to for nearly two months?" Face whined.
"Guess you're just going to have to wait until you are dead for real and try again,"
"Fool, there ain't no dog," B.A. said, but without any anger. He leaned back in his chair.
Father Maghill cleared his throat. "I could say a few words, lad, about your childhood. For example, there was the time you cut up your rubber pad to use.."
"Face had a rubber pad on his bed?" Amy leaned forward. "was he a bedwetter?"
"Uh, Father, not that story," Face interrupted.
"I could tell about the date with the general's wife,"
"Or how we found out you was allergic to English peas," B.A. said.
"Maybe about the time you knocked yourself unconscious by running into a tree?"
"Which time," I said, leaning forward.
"What about the twins out in
"No," B.A. said, "the time he made that date with that hot babe and she turned out to be a m.."
Face stood and held his hands up in mock surrender. "Fine, fine. Wait till I'm dead and gone to say what a great guy I am."
"Yeah," B.A. said, "and you have nice hair."
"And neat penmanship," I offered, finishing off the whiskey in my glass.
Father Maghill leaned forward and poured me some more. "Lad, you keep your fingernails neatly trimmed."
"You look good in a dress," Amy said brightly. Her nose was red from too much whiskey.
Face sat down, laughing. "Thanks for the party, Murdock," he mouthed at me.
Later, after everything had been cleared up and Father Maghill and Amy had left, I found Face sitting in the kitchen, looking through his pictures again. The case with his medals was sitting next to him. I poured us some coffee and sat down next to him.
"I'm sorry that I didn't write a better speech," I started to apologize.
Face shook his head. "It was perfect. If I ever die for real, that's what I want."
"Yeah, but I never got to say… that…" I stopped talking.
"You don't have to say it, Murdock," he said. "Just don't let Father Maghill tell the rubber mat story. Please. Think of it as my last request." I nodded.
Then he smiled at me.
Please Send This Author Comments!