by Cal Marcius

He went straight to the pub after the funeral. Drank his pint without taking a breath. Ordered another. The hurt was boiling inside him, the anger. He’d known the guy all his life, but he had to read about it in the paper. Nobody had called him, so he didn’t bother calling anyone back.

He’d gotten up in the morning, put on his black suit and white shirt, the only smart clothes he had, and went to the church. The suit had seen more funerals than weddings lately. The price you pay for getting old, he thought.

He ordered a third pint, thought about the last time he’d talked to John. He didn’t look ill. Talkative as ever, but then it’d been a few months ago. They never said how he died, not that it mattered now. He wondered why John’s daughter hadn’t been there, then remembered they’d fallen out.

With his fourth pint he had a bag of roasted nuts. She should’ve turned up for the funeral, he thought. Falling out or not. She was still his daughter. Then again, there weren’t many people he’d recognised. Only one or two familiar faces. A disgrace.

He finished the pint, was about to order another, when someone beside him said, “I’m having what he’s having.”

He looked to the side. “I’ve just been to your funeral,” he said.

“I’m not dead,” John said.

“Figured that much.”

They didn’t say anything for a while, drank in silence.

He had a smile on his face now. “Guy had the same name,” he said.

John shook his head. Said, “Stupid old fool.” And patted his friend on the back.

Cal Marcius is a freelance writer who lives in the frozen wastes of northern England. He has been published in Shotgun HoneyOut of the Gutter, Near to the Knuckle, and Yellow Mama.

Twitter: @CalMarcius