by Jack Swenson
It was Floyd's
idea to bury Doc. Floyd was drunk, and he wasn't
the only one. It was Friday night, and as usual,
nobody had a date. Except Doc. He was going
out. We asked for details, but he was vague.
He left before dinner. Farley, Ray, Floyd, and I
drank beer before and after dinner. I don't know
where Tank was. Tank was working at a brewery
that summer, and he got five cases of seconds
each week for two bucks a case. There was nothing
wrong with the beer. The labels were scrunched,
or the bottles were too full or not full enough.
Doc came back
about midnight. Floyd and Ray were in bed. Farley
was reading, and I was lying on the couch dozing. I
had a nice buzz on. Doc stood in the hallway
wavering. He had a big grin on his face. He
started singing. Farley and I helped him up the
stairs and sat him down on his bed. Doc was
mumbling. "What's he saying?" Farley
asked. I leaned closer and listened. "He's
reciting a poem by Wilfred Owen," I said.
Farley and I
went downstairs. I got two beers out of the
refrigerator. Then we heard a ruckus upstairs.
Floyd was standing at the top of the stairs in
his skivvies. We couldn't tell whether he was
laughing or crying. He looked like he was in
pain. "Doc's dead," Floyd said.
"We have to bury him or he'll stink!"
Floyd seemed to think that it was terribly funny.
Ray came out
of his room, surveyed the scene, shook his head,
and went back to bed. The rest of us helped Floyd
bury Doc. We piled all of his dirty clothes on
top of him. Then we got our own laundry and
added it to the pile. When we got done, he was
completely covered with socks, shirts, and
underwear. All you could see were his arms
and legs sticking out of a mound of dirty clothes.
In the morning,
I was sitting in the living room reading the
newspaper when Doc came downstairs. He
wandered into the kitchen, came back with a cup
of coffee, and sat down. He sat there not saying
anything, slowly making a little circle in his
coffee with a spoon. "Well," I
said. "Did you have a good time last
night?" Doc looked around like he wasn't
sure. "Oh, tolerable," he said. I asked
him whom he had a date with. He frowned. Her
name would come to him in a minute, he said.