Gone

"I'm glad they're gone."

"Me, too."

"He didn't look too good to me."

"They said he did, but you're right. He didn't look too good."

The two young men were straightening up the rose colored room. Ted, the older, was picking up the folding chairs while Tom picked up flower petals and gathered the flowers.

"This is the first time we got to keep the flowers, huh, Ted?"

"Yeah, I guess so."

Ted went over to the coffin and looked in to see that everything was in order before he closed it.

"They all got bats in their belfry. They're as batty as he was."

"Yeah, I believe it. He sure was batty, huh?"

"Yeah, well, it's all over with now. He gets buried tomorrow and we don't have to see them jerky ladies anymore."

"Thank goodness. He sure was batty, huh?"

"Yeah, Tom, you said that."

""I know, but it's true. He was the battiest person in the whole world. Nobody could match him. Nobody."

"Not even you."

"Not even the old ladies. What do you mean not even me?"

"You're not as batty as he was, that's all."



Upstairs in their small apartment Tom set the table for dinner while Ted opened a can of spaghetti.

"It seems odd not having to set three places. You feel it too, Ted?"

"I guess so. Want beer or soda pop?"

"Guess I'll have soda pop. We gonna keep this place, or what?"

"I was thinking of getting my own place with my inheritance. Something maybe a little better than this. I never did like this old dump. Can't see why old Gregory stayed here. I tried to get him to get a better place a lot of times. Can't see why he never did."

"I guess he sort of liked it here. Always nice people comin' in. We never got bad business. The families that chose us were always fine families. I kinda like it here, too. I don't think it's a dump."

"Well, I do. And I don't think the families are so fine, either. Take them old bats today. They carried on like a bunch of mental patients. Probably was, too. Same as old Gregory got to be."

"Gregory sure was batty, but he wasn't no mental patient. He was that way on purppose. That's why he was so batty. He practiced at it. And those old ladies didn't mean no harm or anything. They were Gregory's friends. They tried to do right by him. They wanted to show their appreciation for his kindness. Gregory was always kind to them. Most of them brought their husbands to Gregory when their time came."

"Yeah, well, they didn't have no place else to go. C'mon 'n' eat. We got the only parlor around for quite a ways. What you stickin' up for them for? Thought you were as glad to see them go as I was."

"Yeah, but that was only 'cause it was Gregory. I never had to do that part before. I'm used to consoling them. It made me nervous to have them try to console me. Besides that, they kept remindin' me of Gregory. They kept describin' him so much."

"That's what I mean. They're a bunch of old bats."

"Now I didn't say they was a bunch of old bats. They're nice old ladies. Where you figure on gettin a new place?"

"They are. I haven't decided yet. I figure I'll look around. Must be some place where they need a good parlor."

"I don't see why we can't stay here. They need a parlor here."

"I told you this was a dump and I don't like it."

"Well, you don't need to get mad about it. When you goin' lookin'?"

"Tomorrow."

"Tomorrow's the funeral!"

"I mean after."



"You have any luck findin' a place?"

"Nah, not yet. Can't expect to find a good place real quick. There's a nice place on First Street and another one down by Wellington Avenue. There still might be somewhere better, though. I'll keep lookin' for a while. Where'd that come from?"

Ted pointed to the chocolate cake on the table.

"One of Gregory's lady friends brought it over. Wasn't it nice of her?"

"Batty as he was. Yeah, real nice. Hope it tastes good. What else we got to eat tonight?"

"Well, Mrs. Eggert thought we might like a pot roast, so she cooked one up for us. and Mrs Gray brought over a real nice salad. I cooked some potatoes and carrots and we got us a real nice meal tonight."

"They're all bats. What they cookin' for us for?"

"They're just tryin' to be nice. I think they're bein' real sweet. Not everybody is that nice. They really thought a lot of Gregory."

"Well, old Gregory isn't here any more. I'm sure glad I'm gettin' out of here. I don't want them old bats hangin' around me the way they did old Gregory."

"I'll kind miss them. They always made sure we had a good meal. Mrs. Anderson said she won't forget us even if Gregory is gone. I though that was mighty nice."

"I maybe could see it if they were young, but they're just a bunch of old bats. I don't want 'em around me."

"Well, they're just bein' nice."

"Yeah? Well, let 'em be nice to their own kids or somebody."



"I've found a place. It's over on Harrington Street. It's a real good place that used to be a parlor a long time ago. Doesn't even need remodlin'."

"That's real good to hear. What's it like?"

"It's got three rooms downstairs, plus an office. All real nice. Upstairs there's a livingroom, kitchen and bedroom. Also real nice."

"Only one bedroom?"

"That's all I need with an office downstairs. Why?"

"Well, I was thinkin' that we'd stay together. I didn't know that you meant to move out on your own. Guess that's okay, though. I got this place. I always liked it. And I'll always have good food. Those old ladies really enjoy cookin' for somebody."

"Well, I thought you wouldn't want to leave, so I didn't worry about findin' a place big enough for you. You'd probably have changed your mind and stayed here. Not me. I don't want to live around no bats. I had enough with Gregory. You can have 'em."

"Yeah, Gregory sure was batty, huh?"



The End

2001 F.Shafer Junaid

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