Fiction exerpt: The Eulogy

The minister took a deep breath, looked to his left where an Asian man was sitting in a wheelchair, and started talking.
“Karl Park, here, asked me to read this eulogy for him. Some of you may know Karl. Here is what he wishes you to know.
“Jerry was playing cards all day, in silence, a cigarette burning his lips and eyes permanently squinting, which served him well at poker. He read silence like no one I knew. Not only did he detect a player’s bluff a mile away, he could tell his cards before they were laid down. He had little use for words. Also, I never saw him use a match or a lighter as he always lit his first cigarette from the flame of the gas stove in the morning, and then each cigarette from the previous one after that. Starting around 12, he was stealing Marlboro’s from uncle Tits. He switched to Camel’s when he could buy his own. He learned to play cards in the Korean War and then on the job, in the Northwest Territories, with other gold or diamond miners. There rarely was much else to do after work, aside from going out to town once a week. He said no woman would live with an old man who’d been a bachelor all is life. Not one bit of bitterness mind you. I think he was just content, set in his own ways, and he liked his quiet space; he wouldn’t want anyone to disturb that, not even a woman.
“I didn’t know Jerry from his talking except for one story. Jerry’s uncle’s real name was Dick for those of you who didn’t know. Dick wasn’t married so his teenage nephews joked about his manhood. Jerry called him Tits one day and the name was disclosed openly by accident and it stuck. Of course later Jerry understood better about being a bachelor and that it did not mean anything about one’s manhood, but it was too late.
“As some of you know, for the last three years Jerry has invited me home with him. But perhaps very few of you know how that happened. He was very private and perhaps laughed inwardly at the rumors that came of it.

(soon to be published in a collection of shorts called CONSTELLATIONS)

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