Four Feet Under With My Buddies
Young Max is living at home and going to community college to save money. But his social life is nonexistent; he hasn’t been with a man in months. Then one Friday night he decides to go to the school gym and work out because there’s usually no one else around. That’s when he finds two of the hottest guys on campus shooting hoops in the empty gym. More
The day we buried old Clyde, it rained. A slow, steady drizzle began at noon and lasted for the next thirteen hours. And the only thing I could think about was I hadn't gotten laid in months.
I stood outside beside my mom, dad, younger brother, and housekeeper, Mattie Johnson. We all wore black and held miss-matched umbrellas with frayed edges.
The only one who actually cried was my younger brother. And that's because we were burying his pet rat, and we couldn't have cared less. He'd insisted we all congregate in the backyard in a show of mutual respect, and we all decided to support him. He's only ten; he made up a shoebox to resemble a miniature casket with brown paint and tiny little cabinet handles he'd pilfered from my dad's tool shed. He even read a short eulogy he'd written on the back of a school essay in blue crayon and expected each one of us to say a few words about Clyde when he was finished.
When I glanced at the expression on Mattie Johnson's face as she gazed down into a dark hole that looked about four feet deep, I smiled. Her eyebrows were quirked, her lips pinched, as she searched for the right words to describe the pet rat that had always made her either jump or scream.
Mattie Johnson cleared her throat and rolled her eyes. She took a deep breath and said, "Ah well, rest in peace, old Clyde." Then she shot me a serious, urgent glance, letting me know she was finished and it was my turn.
I reached for my brother's shoulder and said, "He was a great little guy. We'll all miss him. He was one of a kind, buddy." Then I flung my father a look to let him know it was his turn.
My father cleared his throat and glanced down at the shoebox in the hole. He seemed to be at a loss for words until my brother's little head went up with an unyielding glance that even tugged at my heart. That's when my father softened and said, "Max is right. He was a great little guy, and we're all going to miss him, kiddo. He was one of a kind."
I rolled my eyes at my father for mimicking me, and he shrugged. He could have come up with something original.
Then my mother talked about the time "good old Clyde" escaped from his cage and we couldn't find him for three days. Mom laughed and smiled; she held my younger brother's other shoulder and sent him reassuring glances as she spoke. She rambled with a singsong tone, and for a minute, I worried she might break into a chorus of The Sound of Music and expect us all to yodel.
The only one who didn't smile this time was Mattie Johnson. And that's because she's the one who found Clyde the last time he'd been lost. He'd somehow found his way to her bedroom off the kitchen and into her underwear drawer. When she opened the drawer to get dressed the next morning and reached inside to pull out her granny panties, she saw Clyde looking up at her with his beady red eyes. She screamed with such might, we all came running down to see what had happened. By the time we got there, Mattie Johnson was out cold across the pink and white chenille bedspread and Clyde was still in the underwear drawer rummaging through her panties.
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