Short Fiction: Eulogy

“Well, what can you say about Uncle Bert that wouldn’t further tarnish his reputation? He was a good man, I suppose. Not in the traditional sense of the word, but perhaps in comparison with some of his ‘business associates’, none of whom have turned up today to pay their respects, I see. Although, to be fair, Bert’s friend Hank did phone me before the service. He was on his way to the airport—he had to leave the country unexpectedly—but he wanted to offer his condolences. He also asked me if Argentina was a non-extradition country. I’m sure Bert would have appreciated the sentiment.

“It’s good to see all the family here. Aunty Veronica—you and Bert were married thirty-six years. And Ling-Soo (I hope I’m pronouncing that correctly), you and Bert got married three weeks ago, is that right? Yes, well, I know Uncle Bert wasn’t the ideal family man, but still, it’s great to see Aunty ‘Ron and Ling-Soo sitting together without any enmity. Ha, you know, Ling-Soo, I’m not even sure if you can understand me. That’s not a race thing—I’m sure you’re capable of  speaking English—it’s just that I’d be surprised if you were older than fifteen, and so you may not know the word ‘enmity’.

“Anyway, uh… Uncle Bert… Oh, that’s right—the fishing story. So… one memory I have of Uncle Bert is the time he took me fishing. We spent two days on Kelly Island. Fished the east side, in the surf. We caught some tailor, a few whiting—oh, and I reeled in a ninety centimetre flathead! I got a terrible sunburn though, standing in the sun for hours. Bert was passed out drunk by two in the afternoon. Had to drag him up to the sand dunes so the tide didn’t wash him away. Ha! He had about a hundred mosquito bites by the time he woke up. It turned out, however, the trip was just to get me away from my house. While we were gone, Bert’s mate, Spoony—remember him?—yeah, well he broke into my place and stole my T.V. and stereo, and the watch Granddad gave me. Uncle Bert always denied it, but that was just Bert, you know? He never backed down, and he was a liar. So, Uncle Bert, if you’re looking down at us today (or looking up—let’s be realistic), I just want you to know you’ll be missed. Not right away, but someday, way down the track, we’ll probably remember you with fondness. Also, could the owner of the blue Nissan please move your car. It’s blocking me in and I have an appointment to get to.”

 

© 2019 MILES VENISON ALL RIGHT RESERVED

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