When It Falls
A True Story

Some people don't believe it until they see the body.

They get the notices, they see the newspaper listing, and they turn over in their hands the funeral home stationary with maps printed on the back, but somehow it doesn't add up. Alright, they say to themselves, this person is dead. It sounds believable enough - noun, verb, adjective - so they agree to it with a certain level of detachment. They acknowledge it, but only as fiction. It isn't happening, not really. They're watching a movie.

It's only when they see the body, when they look down on closed eyes and sealed lips, that the disillusionment falls away. Their faces, a moment ago blank as sleepwalkers', suddenly come alive. Oh my god, they say, stumbling backwards and clutching their mouths. Oh my god.

It didn't take quite that long for me. As I brought the car to a stop at the cemetery gates, I was convinced that I understood, but the disillusionment was there, suspended all around me, hanging just out of sight. Kim is dead, I had told myself, but it was a fact, the way there are two thousand five hundred eighty feet in a mile, they way the earth is the fourth planet from the sun. It didn't mean anything.

I rolled down the window. A large man, dressed in black and sweating under the Texas sun, leaned down towards me.

"Here for the Dryden funeral?" he asked.

I felt it then, collapsing over me in leaden folds. Its reflection filled his kohl-darkened eyes.

"Fuck you," I said.

He stepped back in surprise, and I floored it.

11/24/05