“I still can’t believe it,” she said.
“Same here,” he said, putting his arm around her.
“Everything was going so well for him.”
“I hate funerals,” he said, letting out a small cough and continuing, “Seeing his sister was devastating.”
“Poor Stella,” she said.
“I hate having to wear all this black. The whole thing just doesn’t make sense to me.”
“Poor, poor Stella,” she said.
“When do you have to be home?”
“Do you think they’ll catch the guy?”
“I don’t know. I hope they do.”
“They usually catch them right?”
“I think so.”
The sky had cleared up through the course of the day. Bobby and Alice spent a couple of hours at the park next to the funeral home. An old man circled around a soccer field with his dog a few paces ahead of him and a small group of guys were passing around a soccer ball. It was a beautiful day. “When do you have to be home?”
“Right now,” she said, pressing herself ever so gently into his side and making him tighten his arm around her.
“We should get going.”
“I don’t feel like going home.”
“I know. I don’t want you to get in trouble.”
“It’s okay. I’d rather stay here.”
“What would your mom do if she found out you were with me?”
“She’d yell, and curse and probably forbid me to go out.”
“I never thought anybody hated me that much.”
“Janice was eyeing me the whole time.”
“What do you mean?”
“She wouldn’t stop looking at me. I had this bad feeling.”
“I don’t know; a bad feeling. There was something about her look. I think she’s jealous of us.”
“Yeah that’s probably it. We should get going Alice.”
“Never leave me Bobby.”
“You know I won’t,” he said.
As soon as he got home, he changed and threw his suit and tie into the closet, hoping never to see them again. Nobody was home. There was a note on the fridge, which read, “Dear Bobby, I’ve gone to Bill and Charlene’s place. I left you some food on the stove. Warm it up and enjoy. Mom…”
Bobby turned on the television and sat there until he fell asleep. He often fell asleep on the couch.
“Hey sweetheart, how are you?”
“It was an awful day,” said Bobby.
“It’s a tragedy. Poor parents,” she sighed. Bobby nodded his head and sat up.
“When did you get home?
“Just now,” she said.
“What time is it?”
“It’s eleven, I think,” she replied as she went into her room. Bobby got up slowly, yawning and stretching out his arms and back. He entered his room and shut the door. The sound of his cellular phone made him jump a little. He grabbed it quickly. There was a text message. ‘Hey, you looked pretty good today. Why can’t you dress sharp all the time? It was nice seeing you. Janice.” Sitting down on the edge of his bed, Bobby read the message a few times.
Staring down at the street below, he saw a police car cruising slowly. It was a beautiful night. When he sat back down he called her. “Hey.”
“Good evening,” she said.
“I just wanted to thank you for the message.”
“Why didn’t you just message me back?”
“My fingers are hurting.”
“You dialed my number didn’t you?”
“I have you on speed dial.”
“I don’t know…”
“What number am I?”
“Four,” he said and cleared his throat.
“What was that?”
“The cough,” she replied.
“What about it?”
“Forget it,” she said calmly. “Four is a good number.”
“I like six better.”
“Who’s number six?”
“Allen,” he whispered.
“You’re not gonna call him anymore.”
Bobby ran his hand up and down his chest and closed his eyes for a moment. All he could hear was Janice breathing over the phone. “Where are you?”
“In my room,” she said.
“Do you wanna go for a walk?”
“Don’t you ever get any sleep Bobby?”
“I already slept. Come on, you wanna come?”
“I don’t think so baby,” she said jokingly with a low tone, trying to imitate a guy. “You’re welcome Bobby.”
“For what?” he asked.
“The message,” replied Janice. “You wanted to thank me, so you’re welcome.”
“I’m telling you, it’s a nice night.”
“A nice night for what?” exclaimed Janice. “You can come over if you like but I’m not going outside.”
“Alright,” he said.
“So, are you coming?”
“I haven’t decided yet.”
“I’ll give you some time.”
“You know what I was thinking today Janice? I was remembering when I first met you in grade ten, how you’d never stop smiling or laughing. Nothing ever seemed to destroy you. It’s still the same. Still today, sometimes you’re a mystery to me.”
“I do what I can,” said Janice.
“No, you do more. Both of us know you do more.”
“What does this all mean Bobby?” said Janice as delicately and deliberately as she possibly could.
“I don’t know. I was just thinking about back in the day.”
“Oh yes, the good old days!” said Janice.
“Whatever,” Bobby replied.
“Listen, lots of things are happening right now. Good things and bad things, and all these things that are actually all the same. You know what I mean? Everything’s changing and life goes on. That’s just how it is and it’s beautiful. You’ve gotta love it, and if you can’t, then that’s too bad. Better get used to it, because that’s how it really is. Nothing else matters.”
“I guess you’re right.”
“It doesn’t matter.”
“Nothing does,” said Bobby in a whisper. “Do you believe in God Janice?”
“Of course, I speak to God!”
“Is that right?”
“Whenever I’m feeling really lonely, I talk to him. I don’t ask him for anything. I just talk to him.”
“So that’s what you do on your spare time.”
“Yeah, what do you do?”
“Nothing,” said Bobby.
“No, you talk to me,” she said.
“You can go to sleep Janice. I don’t want to keep you up.”
“How’s your girlfriend?”
Bobby paused in silence for a quick moment and said, “Growing up slowly.”
“Oh Bobby,” Janice laughed. “I don’t know whether to feel happy or sad.”
“You’re a greedy little dog, aren’t you?”
“Perhaps, but it’s not like you’re Mother Teresa!”
“What about the kid?”
“That’s such an ugly word. ‘It’s such a nice night! She’s so nice!’ you should really stop using that word.”
“I’ll think about it.”
“Don’t think about everything, you might get a headache.”
“I already have one.”
“Take a pill.”
“You’re supposed to make it go away.”
“Get some sleep Bobby. I’ll be seeing you.”
It took him a while to move and get under his covers. When he finally did, he fell asleep almost instantly. Another message had come crashing into his phone as it sat idle on the bed, somewhere in the sheets.
Exactly four days later, another funeral was held.