Funeral for a Friend-Chapter 32

Maureens sad day…her story.

We had just moved into an apartment a couple blocks away from our house. No pets allowed, but I did keep Fred, a goldfish I won from a fair. I even bought him a bridge for his bowl.

A Grim Discovery—

On coming home from school today, I notice that Fred had jumped over the bridge, right out of his bowl, and is now behind my dresser. Must have flopped around back there until he drew his last breath.

Our beloved pets of the past were all buried in our yard at our old house: Friggin the cat, Willard the rat and a stray bird that we tried to save, were all there. I live in an apartment now, with no dirt, and no place to bury Fred. But, there is plenty of dirt across the street, at MGM. Donnie showed me the way in… Should I?

The Burial—

I quickly change my clothes. I am wearing the army pants I got from The Surprise Store. T-shirt, hair in bun. I look like a soldier. A soldier on a mission. A mission to bury Fred. I put Fred in a brown paper lunch sack and grab a spoon for digging, before heading out.


I climb the telephone pole with the barbed wire to get inside. I go to the little river where Donnie and I have ventured. Fred would want to be buried by the water. I dig him a little grave, put him in, say, “ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” and then cover him up with dirt. I put some eucalyptus caps in the shape of a heart, and am ready to get the heck out.

I go back to my exit place and think to myself… Well, I’m already in… why not explore a little? Maybe even brag to Donnie a little, about how far I ventured on my own. So, I start off.

Soldier On—

I continue straight ahead. The other side of the fence is Culver Blvd., but you never even think of that busy street when you’re inside. Two different worlds entirely. I march on. The boys in my neighborhood growing up would never invite me to play army with them, but I am playing now. I come upon a stray cat. It is meowing at me like it wants me to pet it, but when I come close, it is skittish. Yet, it keeps teasing me to come closer. It runs to a structure that looks like a house, then to another one… leading me into open space, which I know is not smart, but I soldier on.

Mission Aborted—

Then the dreaded noise! The jeep! Shit! Did he see me?  

I look like a boy. I hope I don’t get shot with a salt rock. The guard comes tearing out of nowhere right toward us. We split up. I do a baseball slide under a house, just to find that the back was fake and completely missing. A small bush is my camouflage. I see the cat jump over the fence and right out of here. That is not a viable option for me. Too tall, too sharp at the top, no foothold. Donnie would be so disappointed in me if I get caught.

I wait. My legs are shaking involuntarily, and I just keep silent. I wait for what feels like hours. And actually… it probably has been. I decide to give up. I wave my arms in the air in surrender. If I had a white flag I would be waving it. I only have a spoon, which I’ve been clenching so tightly, that I can barely straighten out my fingers.

No guard. He has long gone. I surrender all the way back to my exit point. How embarrassing to surrender (to no one) all the way across the lot. I will NOT be bragging about this. RIP Fred.

Story by Maureen Miller

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