A blind boy finds love.
The golden Italian sunlight snuck through the branches of the olive trees like a snake with several heads, slow-cooking the small group of relatives’ well groomed skin. There was a rectangular hole in the ground before them, in which a rectangular box would soon rest for eternity; or at least until it deteriorated or the bugs had completely consumed it. It was taking almost as long for the gravesite workers to figure out how to lower the box into the hole properly. It was hoisted in the air by several ropes, which they were supposed to use to ease it into the soil, but the ropes kept slipping which made the coffin slam against the ground violently. Each time, the mother would gasp and break down into a deeper set of tears than those that she was already crying.
Her husband had his arm curled around her shoulders, which he began to grip a little too tightly after the fourth drop of the coffin. He exhaled, choking almost on his on breath as he let go of his wife and approached the situation.
Richey on the other hand, had none of this on his mind, for that would be impossible. The boy was blind. He instead sat a few feet away from everyone else, pulling out blades of grass by their roots. Of course, his family thought he was being disrespectful. They thought that standing around that hole in the ground would make up for all the shit that they gave his poor brother, but he knew it wouldn’t. Besides, what would it mean to him if he couldn’t even see what was happening? What would it mean to his dead brother if he obeyed his parents or the rules of some trivial ceremony? Absolutely nothing.
This wasn’t about them, no matter how hard they tried to make it so. His death didn’t mean a trip to Italy, a quaint little ceremony and maybe some crying for a few days. It meant that they’d never see him again – well, for Richey, it meant that he’d never feel his presence, never hear his deep voice or his never-failing advice, never smell his Prada cologne (which had been given to him by the designer himself) again.
He felt numb.
“Jesus god damn Christ, what is wrong with you people?” Richey heard his father hiss. Soon after, he heard a hard slamming noise. He turned toward the sound as if it would give him a better idea of what the commotion was about.
What he couldn’t see was that the fifth time the workers dropped the coffin, the lid had flipped open momentarily and his brother’s corpse had begun to slip out of the box. His father pushed the workers away violently and opened the coffin completely, picking up the top of his son’s body and placing it back in the coffin. The first and only tear that he’d shed about the loss slid off his jaw as he looked at the young man for the last time. It landed on the cheek of the model, as though it was a tear of his own. He shut the coffin.
“Rich, come here,” he commanded, his voice wavering.
By then the mother was on her knees, hysterical. She had turned away from the hole, and was squeezing her eyes shut so tight that it was sure to reverse the effects of all the botox injections she’d gotten in her forehead the month before. But that had only crossed her mind slightly.
Richey stood and carefully followed the sound of his dad’s voice, using his cane to ensure that he didn’t fall into the grave. How horrific a sight that would be, especially with the already ridiculous coffin drops. The workers, unbeknownst to everyone else, had actually stolen a few of Rosemary’s (the mother’s) medication and washed it down with a bit of the vodka that one kept in a flask in his back pocket. They weren’t sure what it was, but the young men knew it was much stronger than whatever was in their mothers’ medicine cabinet. It would’ve been impossible to properly lower the coffin in the state they were in.
“What is it, Dad?” Richey asked once finally reaching his father.
“Grab this rope,” he instructed, placing one of the ropes in the boy’s hand. “And walk to the other side of the… the, hole.”
George was often convinced that though his son was blind, he could do anything just as well as a seeing person. Richey was sometimes appreciative of this, because he didn’t like being babied and he figured that it made him quite a lot more capable than most blind people, but often his father pushed him to do things that actually put him in danger. He’d never refuse to do any of it, though.
He took the rope on the side opposite to the one he’d given Richey.
“Okay, now we’re going to lower your brother’s… c-coffin into the hole,” George found it exceedingly difficult to pronounce anything that acknowledged that his first born was actually deceased, “Because these goofy fucking assholes can’t do their own jobs. Now I want you to lift the c… just lift it, and let’s get this done, okay?”
“Kay Dad,” Richey responded, licking his lips nervously. It was a habit of his.
They began to lift the slim mahogany box, slowly but surely, as the father guided it into the hole. The dead one had asked to be buried in a black box, but his mother found it too morbid. It didn’t take long before it was just about to touch the ground.
“Alright, it’s almost there… just be careful, ease it slowly… Now, let go,” George directed as the box settled into the dirt. He carefully pulled the ropes from below the coffin and set them aside. He exhaled. “Alright, that’s it.”
And that was the funeral of the famous American model, Ralph Dare, who had jumped from a 20th story balcony in Milan the week before.