The funeral had been painless so far. Comparatively.
He had barely known the deceased after all. A kid he had known in grade school.
How did he end up a pall-bearer? Christ.
Standing in the arched doorway, David thought about the look Sherry gave him on his way out the door. That soft look of acknowledgment that he was doing the right thing. He had tried to talk himself out of this a thousand times. She though he needed it.
A trip 2500 miles to attend a funeral for someone he hadn't seen in 25 years.
David rubbed his eyes until they hurt, and the blackness that accompanied their closed nature sparked with electricity from the pressure. Perry was a good friend in the fourth grade, no doubting that. Pick up baseball games, stay overs, board games, sure. It was all there in the past, but did he feel anything now.
An odd nausea started to set in as he remembered something Perry had said all those years back. Late one night as they lay in the dark in the bunks of Perry's room. The question had come from below David just as he dwindled toward that goal line of slumber, at first he thought he imagined it.....
"David, does your Dad ever hit you?"
He didn't answer. But now, in the rigid awareness that came with adulthood, those pieces came crashing together.
The black eyes. Perry's occasional limp. The infrequent but common absences.
Funny what you miss when your 10. As David looked up to the table where all the trimmings and hors-d'ouevres were located he saw Perry's father, standing there, shoving finger sandwiches down his throat, and yes, laughing with who David believed was Perry's uncle Frank.
Suddenly the nausea exploded.
Running to the basement, David's vision blurred, he turned the sharp right and slammed his left shoulder into the door, swinging it open. Weakness had begun to permeate David's body, and the wobbling legs held it together long enough for him to stumble into the stall and vomit hard.
As his system purged itself, the tears came. Huge pounding sobs, that gathered air deep into his lungs. The weeping was immense, as he slid to his rear end, swiveling his weight to his left to reach for the stall door and swing it shut.
He never cried this hard before.
He never felt this guilty before.