So the guy who was like a 2nd father to me my whole life and taught me how to cook died 3 weeks ago. I kinda had a feeling, even though it took everyone else by surprise, and had been planning on flying out to Maine just after Christmas to visit. But even that was too late.
So 2 weeks ago I flew out for the funeral. I can count on one hand the number of times in my life I've entered a church to attend a function being held there, religious or otherwise. And now, I can count on one finger the number of times I've entered a church at 1030am with a giant red solo cup that is obviously a bloody mary (complete with ridiculous garnish) in my hand. One person said something to me, but I quickly pointed out how disrespectful everyone else was being by NOT showing up to the funeral with a drink in hand. He would have wanted it that way, and every last person there goddamn knew it for a fact and left me alone, except for Doug. Doug, who walked in with me while stubbing the last of a real Cuban Romeo y Julieta out on the palm of his hand, clapped me on the back harder than you'd think an alcoholic architect from Lawn Guyland possibly could and yelled out "FUCKIN' A RIGHT, KID! FUCKIN' A RIGHT!"
The service was great. We all cried in the appropriate spots, Henley came up from Boston reeking of hashish and played a ripping sax solo in the man's honor before sliding in to a heartbreaking rendition of When the Saints go Marching In, and my hair had literally never looked better on any day ever in my entire life.
Oh, and The Devil Herself was there. But we'll politely pretend that's inconsequential, since the current rules say it should be.
The wake started off great. Like the all-time top 5 ever event we knew it was supposed to be. Open bar, catering by a local company that the man helped start back in the day, done in his style but without being copycat bullshit. I had been down there in the morning before the service icing down the raw bar and shucking oysters so that everything was laid out and ready before the town showed up. I saw at least 90% of the people I wanted to see, which is wildly impressive given how long that list was. We got his real goddamn cannon out of storage, got some black powder and wadding from somewhere, and touched that fucker off way too many times. I made extreme velocity potato salad at some point, using the cannon. I think I smoked a cigarette at some point. I know I smoked a few too many joints. I goddamn know I was really fuckin' drunk for the first time in over 3 years. At some point I did shots with The Devil Herself, but we'll politely pretend that's inconsequential. Because it's supposed to be.
Lloyd died DURING the fucking wake.
He wasn't there, and it wasn't unexpected. He was an 88 year old WW2 vet. Ran away at 16 to join the Navy and ended up storming the beach at Normandy on D-Day. He was in hospice care, probably kicking Death in the balls a time or two before he finally gave up the ghost. But here we are at the wake of one of the very icons of the town and another icon of the town dies. Shit timing.
So that puts a tiny bit of a damper on things, but we've all agreed that we're gonna go down to the backshore a little after sundown and light a huge bonfire and continue getting trashed in honor of these two larger than life people that have just left us. Well, most of us have agreed. Joe has had one too many and wants to go home and bang his wife and take a nap in front of the fire and Ronnie is too shitfaced to drive so for the first time anyone can remember he's gonna leave his car in town and catch a ride home with Joe.
Irony is a cruel motherfucker sometimes.
We got down to the beach, burn permit in hand and giant bag of illegal fireworks in the trunk. We could see some flashing lights up the hill aways on the way out of town but paid it no mind.
Then we heard the distinct sound of a helicopter landing, just up the hill where we saw the flashing lights. Then a car full of frantic friends pulled up to the beach taking a headcount, trying to account for everyone that was part of our core group. Seemed like everyone was accounted for, either at the beach or in the car or still at the bar in town. The only people who had left were Joe, his wife, and Ronnie.
Ronnie never made it home. He left most of his skull and brains on a huge tree on the side of State Route 166. Smart enough for once in his life to not drive home drunk, but not smart enough to wear a fucking seatbelt. Joe's wife is alive, but still in the hospital with a broken back and spinal injuries. She might walk again. Joe is fine, physically. He's looking at 10 years for vehicular homicide and he killed his best friend and maybe paralyzed his wife and some of the group that live in town year-round have agreed to take turns keeping a suicide watch on him until the State takes that over at some point, but he's fine.
Ronnie was a good friend. Might have been the funniest guy I ever knew, DEFINITELY responsible for the absolute single funniest moment of my entire life. That's another story but it's a story involving hillbilly strippers, a biker bar, and assaulting a cop with a giant realistic dildo that was found on the side of the road so I'll tell it someday. He tells it better, but you'll have to settle for my version now.
Now nobody's interested in a bonfire. Sober drivers are identified for those who just want to go home. Drunk drivers can't leave town because the road's closed up the hill and the cops are gonna check everyone before they let them through, so a fair number of us go back downtown to the bar. Including The Devil Herself, but, well, you know.
I woke up in the guest bedroom, which was a relief at first. But those weren't my clothes on the floor and that wasn't me I smelled all over myself.
(This is why I don't take it that far these days with the fucking booze. I can't trust myself. Shit like this makes for great stories, but it also makes for broken homes and child support. I'm a fucking asshole for letting this go down. I need to squash this immediately and make sure it stays squashed forever. It's never that easy, of course. And now it's VERY fucking consequential.)
The morbid nature of my business gave me a good excuse to bail, and Jules is my ride-or-die homie so she was happy to come pick me up and take me to breakfast without asking questions.
Well, any questions about that, anyway. She was more than happy to ask me about what's going to happen to the restaurant now that he's dead.
There's no way the family can afford to keep it, and the girls don't want to run it anyway. They're gonna have to sell it, once everything shakes out in probate.
So I got Jules to take me back to Larry's trailer where I was supposed to be staying, and I started sending emails and making discrete inquiries. Chasing money has never mattered much to me but that doesn't mean I don't know how to scare up some capital when the situation calls for it.
I managed to get back to the airport and on a plane back to Cascadia just before the snow got bad enough to delay or cancel flights.
So that's how I find myself sitting here in my underwear this first Friday night in December toasting the recently dead, hoping The Devil stays quiet, and trying to decide if I want to accept the offer to go back to where it all began and play with $2mil of someone else's money and give up probably everything that's good in my life to realize this insane vision I have.
So how was your guys' Thanksgiving?