I’ve never been to a Jewish funeral before have I? I thought as a series of people took turns shoveling dirt onto the closed casket.
I hadn’t been to any funerals since my mother’s. There were people I had known who had died since, but I hadn’t cared enough about them. The person I’d let myself become couldn’t care enough about them. Not three days ago, I wouldn’t have come to this one.
Still, the uncomfortable thing about being here and listening to the previous prayers was that I knew no religion was fully true. And God definitely wasn’t a being to be worshipped.
Thinking about yourself at a funeral? How selfish can you be?
“Hey,” Ally whispered, putting her hand on top of mine. “You need to take a walk?”
My frustration must have been showing.
“I’m fine,” I smiled, wrapping my gloved hand around her’s and holding it tight.
My thoughts weren’t the only thing I was feeling anxiety over. Even if I wasn’t ashamed of it anymore, I was still self-conscious over my burnt face. It didn’t help that plenty of people had been staring at me. To try and alleviate some of the stress, I was wearing a black veil over my face.
With both the Kaddish and other prayers completed and everyone who’d wanted to having gotten a chance to place dirt on the casket, a beautiful, dark skinned woman stepped forward to deliver the eulogy. She was wearing a black pantsuit that worked with her figure almost as well as Ally’s.
The Rabbi had introduced her as Katie Truman.
“Everyone here today is a bro,” she started. “After all, if you’re here, you cared about Joey and he cared about you. And that means, regardless of how you knew him, you were his bro.” Maybe in the end I was one, but for all the months I’d known him prior, all I’d done was insult him and have my security beat him up. “Now I’m biased of course, but I think that’s something to be proud of. Because while Joey wasn’t perfect, he still did everything he could to make the lives of all his bros just a little happier. And growing up, I was lucky enough to become his best bro.”
All this time, I’d thought Joey was like the rest of us; I’d thought he only had a few people he was close with. But that couldn’t have been further from the truth. The crowd here was filled with dozens of people of all sorts.
I certainly wouldn’t have thought his best friend would be a woman as attractive as the one speaking.
“He, uh, he really would have been ecstatic to see you all here. Probably be dashing around, high-fiving and fist-bumping everyone.”
It would have been nice if all of Joey’s friends were here, but I knew that wasn’t the case. Shay couldn’t come because of what Abe had done to her. I couldn’t exactly use her absence as another reason to hate her.
But Carter and Malcolm should have been here. I’d hoped that they’d show, but I wasn’t expecting it. No matter how much I called and texted, neither of them would talk to me. My brain kept trying to tell me it was because of something I’d done, but I knew it wasn’t the case. Joey’s murder and Shay being put in a coma had obviously hit them harder than me. I was pissed they weren’t here, but I was mostly wishing I knew how I could help them.
I wasn’t the only member of our gang here though. Eve was standing in the back, wearing just a short black silk dress without a trench coat or overcoat, despite the bitter cold. With what had happened to the other three and my feelings about Olivia still complicated, she was the only one I’d talked to since New Years.
Her and Joey had always seemed pretty close. I’d thought their bond was based off of them being the ‘normals’ in the group, but with what I’d recently learned about both of them, normal wasn’t a word which suited either.
Captain Troyan was here too. He’d finally shaved but he’d been silent when I’d tried to talk to him, still in a funk. Even so, I was glad he was present.
“The day I moved away from Bluejay, and him, was one of the most devastating in my life. But…” she paused, choking up. Joey had dropped Katie’s name as one he’d wished he could have said goodbye to. And from what she was saying, it sounded like there were really close. I had to wonder why he’d never brought her up. “But it doesn’t hold a candle to how I felt when I got the call to find out what had happened to him.” Her face made a small smile. “Still, I can’t imagine he’d have wanted to go out any other way.”
I tightened my grip on Ally’s hand to try and control my frustration.
Eve had given me the short version of what had happened. Abe took down Malcolm and Shay, Joey showed up and traded his life for Malcolm’s. Abe then brought all three of their bodies to Eve’s house where he beat the crap out of Carter and Olivia. Eve had been sleeping, waking up to find Carter crying over the other four. When she’d tried to talk to him, Carter had freaked out, grabbed Shay and used his lightning to fly out of there.
Once Malcolm and Olivia had woken up, they exchanged information, but Malcolm was apparently so broken he walked off immediately afterword. Eve decided to call the police so Joey could get a proper funeral, but since they couldn’t tell the real story, they had to make something up. It turned out that Abe had murdered a lot of people that day so they based it around that.
“We all know about the massacre that took place. And while my prayers go out to all the families of those who lost people, Joey was no victim. He saw what was happening, saw the man…the monster responsible, and despite no longer being an officer of the law, took it upon himself to try and stop them.”
Eve had sold the story that Joey was just driving by City Hall when he saw people being murdered, and was killed trying to stop the murderer. She’d said that she saw it all go down, but was too scared to do anything and just wanted to hide. And she lied that after being horrified by what she saw, she took Joey’s body back to her home in the hope that he could still be saved. To keep Daddy from finding out that the two were still living in Bluejay, Eve had her name kept out of the police report.
“When the two of us would talk about what we wanted to do when we were grown up, I’d always say that I wanted to see the world and everything that makes it up. But Joey just wanted to be a hero. He was a jolly man, and he just wanted to help others.” She looked up to the sky. “Guess we both got to live our dreams, Bro.”
Taking a breath, I let go of Ally’s hand.
It was good that even now, Joey was being treated with reverence. But it wasn’t enough. Once Abe and Daddy were beaten, I’d make sure that the real story was told. How Malcolm was only alive because he’d given his life. How I was only alive because he’d been willing to take the beating of a lifetime. Katie, Joey’s family, everyone else here and everyone in the world would know just how much of a hero he was.
With Katie’s eulogy finished, she slowly moved over to and hugged Joey’s parents. The Rabbi then led us in a few psalms, closing out by reminding everyone of the address of the wake, leading to the conclusion of the service.
A part of me just wanted to rush over to Katie and tell her the truth, but I knew it had to wait. I also wanted to talk to Eve but by the time I’d turned my head around to look for her, she was already gone.
“Damn wicca,” I whispered to myself, as the crowd began to go back to their cars.
“There are no flowers here,” Ally spoke.
“Huh?” I responded.
“There are no flowers. Pretty much every other funeral I’ve been to, there have been flowers, people putting them on the tombstone and the casket. I know it’s not just a matter of class. Even non-wealthy people tend to have cheap flowers.”
Staring down at Joey’s marble casket, I gave some quick thought to Ally’s quandary.
“It’s a Jewish custom,” I said with confidence, recalling having learned about this in one of my classes. “They believe flowers are meant for festive events, not something like a funeral. Simplicity is preferred. Dirt dumped onto the casket and rocks left on tombstones.”
“Huh. Interesting,” she said, staring down in the same direction as me. “Do you want to go to the wake?”
I shook my head, eyes not blinking.
“His family will be mourning, “Sitting Shiva” it’s called, for a week. We can visit some other time in private.”
Ally opened her mouth, but seemingly realized quickly exactly why I didn’t want to go. I just couldn’t be around that large group any longer.
Used to love attention, I thought. Ate it all up.
“Come on,” she said warmly, having wrapped her arms around one of mine. “Let’s go home.”
I nodded, but before starting to walk, I pulled away from Ally. Picking up the shovel which had been used earlier, I dumped one last clump of earth onto the casket and then forced the tool back into the ground.