I let the ash from my part smoked fag fall into the open grave of the cancer consumed cadaver of my best ex-friend. It is what he would have wanted. His wife spits at my feet, the crone. That is what she has always wanted. Her spittle forms tiny pies of mud I absently kick into the pit so to the cheap veneered wood they stick. A little piece of her bitterness and envy for you to take into eternity my friend. Lest you forget. I say nothing. That act, that look, quite enough. I just smoke, until I've smoked beyond the butt. And in it goes. To expire in a fizzle in the damp muddy pit of a freshy opened grave. 'Now see here'. 'Have some respect'. And other grunts of made up outrage.
Somebody gasps, and drops her bag. And it bounces, once, twice, thrice. And then in it goes. A general bewilderment. What to do? Like dropping a shoe on the track. What to do.
I don't recognise old men. I am blind to them. Nieces and such. Old men, with their faces wrapped in creases and their eyes clouded are a mystery to me. I have no idea who it is, but at his age he should know better than to creep so close to an open grave, no matter what chivalry has to say. Maybe it just seems to be unseemly to leave it lying there. Perhaps if someone had held his belt for him it never would have happened. He almost had it for a minute. Surprisingly elegant fingers twitching inches from the strap. So very nearly did he snag it and rescue the fallen bag. But yawning graves are treacherous and of course in he goes, in he goes.
With a terrible crack and a feeble scream he smacks his head on a finial of brass and lays very, very still. Why do they pad them on the inside I wonder, where health and safety is a concern of the past. Some people gasp. I almost laugh. One bright spark says 'oh my god. We've got to get him out'. The young bucks start to scramble in after him. First one, two then three of them. In they go. In they go.
The coffin lid is slippery and they tumble around as though they were dancing on E to an early eighties acid house track.
'Get his feet' one of them commands.
'Leave him alone' somebody shouts.
'We don't even know if he's breathing'
'if he isn't then he's in the right place'
'could you pass me my bag?'
This last comment ignored as by now the widow is wailing like a wasted banshee. Then the hubbub breaks into a mele with scrambling bodies trying to climb free of the yawning grave. Arms and legs entangled. Feet pressed atop of heads. Elbows in crotches. An evil pulsating mound of mourners under mining under pinnings and subsiding sliding into the hungry ground as one after another they tumble, tumble down - and in they go, in they all go.
Until all that is left is the black handbag perched curiously on someone's twisted broken leg. I look on bemused and light a cigarette. Well old friend, it seems you can take it with you.
"Shall I cover 'em up now?" asks the gravedigger who appears beside me just like I were mister Ben.
I say 'yes', and flick the ash of my cigarette.