I met the loneliest man in the world in one of those modern monstrosities which we people in this enlightened country pretend are appropriate places to grieve.
The places that I'm talking about have sprung up over the past few decades. The recently built chain funeral homes, the sterile white ones with the plaster columns out front that attempt to make a cinder block and vinyl building look classical, the ones where inside people are reduced to signs on the wall which direct friends, family, and business partners down a long echoing hallway to small decorator perfect rooms designed to create a quick and smooth in and out flow of traffic, the ones were the staff exhibit the same barren, professional sympathy as doctors in large, pretentious hospitals. Those are the places I'm talking about.
He was alone in his rented hall. I stopped to wonder why he was there alone and to indulge my voyeuristic whims. It wasn't wise to remain alone in these places. Doing so risks being swallowed up by the fake flowers, filtered air, and formal inhumanity of it all.
Perhaps, the reason why he stayed longer in that room than the others who had been there at some point during the day was because he hoped that, if he waited long enough, the building could give birth to something more spiritual than the fumes of furniture polish and the powder that formed so many death masks. Maybe he hoped to find some solace away from the chattering hordes of distant cousins. Or he might have been the only one who really mourned.
I won't ever know why he was there alone. That place with its cold modern atmosphere had stripped him of his humanity and placed him forever out of my reach. This wasn't a place to find answers, except for one, single scrap of information. It was posted next to the door and would soon be graven into the marble slab that would mark the 4-by-8 plot of ground that would belong to this man until our civilization has passed away as well.
I read the sign by the door: The Funeral of John Doe. A name-the last bit identity left to the dead.
Fiction » Spiritual Rated: K+, English, Drama & Tragedy, Words: 435, Favs: 1, Published: 6/19/2003