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This page last viewed: 2017-12-04 and has been viewed 1567 times
by Cathy Fisher
Warnings: Perhaps a little angst, but not much
Summary: Something happens at a funeral. I know, not very detailed, but
any more would give it away
Comments: This was not intended to be my first story, but it woke me up at
four in the morning and would not go away until I wrote it down. It is my
first story and has not been beta'd.
Disclaimer: Yeah, everyone knows that I could never afford to buy them much
less pay for their upkeep. Just borrowing them for the purposes of my
story. The bereaved wife is mine, though.
I stood at the side of the doorway and greeted all of the mourners come to
pay their respects to my husband. I knew I should be showing some emotion,
feeling something, but I couldn't. Too many years in a house that was as
military as my husband, I guess.
Don't get me wrong, I loved my husband, very much, and his death was the
worst thing that has ever happened to me. It came very suddenly, with
little warning. I never even got the chance to say good-bye. So why was it
I could feel nothing in this church, this place where we had come to mourn
Dully I watched as the last elaborately dressed officer walked by me. He
grabbed my hand and said something, but I don't know what it was. His voice
was a speck of dust in the whirlwind of my mind. I smiled woodenly and said
something, I don't know what, just to make him go away.
Finally, they signaled to me that they were ready to start and I walked to
my place at the front of the church. As I walked, I looked around and felt
vaguely surprised at all of the military brass that had come to pay the
respect to my husband in death that they had never once given to him in
life. I felt a brief spurt of anger and resentment well up, but once again,
I instinctually quelled it until I felt nothing once more.
I can't remember much of the service. Others tell me it was beautiful and
that they sobbed the entire way through. All I know is that some general,
whom everyone had assured me was the best person to handle my husband's
eulogy, stood up and spoke for half an hour on a subject he knew absolutely
nothing about. I think there were other speakers, but I'm not sure. I just
know that I was relieved when it was over and they began to get ready to
move the casket.
Suddenly, something remarkable happened. The back doors to the church
opened and a ripple of silence spread over the audience like a stream on a
small rock. Curious, I turned to see who had entered.
Four men in uniform stood just inside the doorway in a strict row. I knew
instantly who they were. How could I not? They had been the whole of my
husband's life for two entire years. He had even testified at the trial
that condemned them to death before a firing squad. I knew that they had
escaped death and had somehow managed to obtain a pardon, but what were they
Angry murmurs began to rise but were instantly stifled into an echoing
silence as the four men walked to the front of the church in complete unison
and snapped stiffly to attention before the casket of their once-nemesis.
In a curious daze, I watched as their leader, a man with silver hair and as
many wrinkles around his eyes as my Rod had had, approached me and offered a
single white rose.
"Permission to honor your husband, ma'am?" He spoke quietly, but his voice
echoed strangely in the tomb-like quality of the church.
Why, my mind screamed, as I nodded numbly and accepted the rose. He made
your lives miserable for two years. He even testified at the trial that
condemned you, for goodness sake. Why?
With the smart precision born of many years of military practice, the silver
haired man stepped back into line with his men and snapped to attention.
For a moment, they just stood there. Then in perfect unison, without a word
being spoken, they saluted, held and released the salute as one. Then once
again without a word or a command given, they turned together and marched
out of the church, their steps creating the rhythm of a drum roll on the
church's wooden floor. Gone, as quickly as they had come; much as they had
acted during the time my husband had devoted all that he had to catching
Chaos erupted from the crowd come to pay their respects to Rod, furious
voices wondering loudly at the audacity of those men to come here, now.
Suddenly, as I looked around at the angry, indignant faces, everything
became clear to me.
I knew now who, in the end, had shown Rod Decker the most respect.
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