This was the strangest funeral I had ever attended. The girl in the coffin was not a friend, not family, not even a co worker. We had met a few lonely nights ago at a little underground bar called The Nightcall. She was dressed in a flimsy blue dress and cherry pumps. With a cigarette in one hand and a Jack in the other she looked over at me and nodded. Taking the invitation I bought her a few drinks then we grabbed a cab back to her place.
To be honest I barely remember that night. I remember that she was really kinky and I was to drunk to really process all her little fantasies. All I really know is that the next day I woke up with a splitting headache and her standing over me with a mug of something hot. “I’m going to a party later.” she said as I rolled out of her bed and accepted the mug. “You can come if you want.” Slowly I sipped the brown sludge. Why is she inviting me to a party, I thought to myself. Doesn’t she know this is the last time we’ll see each other? Shrugging to myself I looked up at her. Watery blue eyes stared back. They looked dead. “Sure.” I replied. The girl nodded and walked out of the room.
I sat on her bed staring into space. My body felt like shit. A clock on the wall read 2:30pm. With a sigh I stood and started dressing. “Hey,” I yelled from her room,”Can I use your shower?” If I was going to go back out I might as well smell nice. She yelled a yes back.
After showering and dressing I made my way to her kitchen. It was a bare apartment. There was a table and chair, a couch in the living room and a small television. No pictures hung on the walls. There wasn’t even a cheap piece of artwork. “Like to keep it simple?” I asked trying to break the awkward silence. She nodded.
“So,” she said,”That party begins at 4. And we have to take the train. I’m also hungry so we should probably head out now.” I shrugged. Grabbing a coat she led me out.
We ate at a little hot dog stand before hopping on the light rail to the far side of town. It was a 30 minute ride. To long to sit next to a stranger you slept with and not speak. And yet not a word escaped between us the entire ride. Finally we reached our stop. A soft drizzle had begun outside. We got off the train and I followed the woman down a few blocks. The neighborhood was grungy and falling apart. A few people scurried by in the haze.
She stopped in front of a house that was three stories up and narrow. It was a brick home though the brick was no longer red. Instead it was black with mold. A little nervously I followed her inside. She was wearing a black dress tonight and purple lipstick. “So this is it?” I asked. I hoped she didn’t hear the edge in my voice. All I received in answer was a short nod. Shrugging I followed her up the stoop.
Inside a dull thump of a stereo resonated through the brick. The hallway was empty save for a thick cloud of smoke hanging in the air. I could hear loud voices and laughter coming from a closed door to the right of us. She led me through the door and down a flight of stairs. A warm glow from several red and blue lamps greeted us. At the bottom was a large room filled with doped up people lounging on scrap sofas. “Hey!” someone yelled,”You made it!” Before I knew it I was swept into a haze of smoke, and smiles, and dreams. I don’t know what I took that night. A hot blonde pushed a few pills in my mouth with her tongue . Whatever they were they made me pass into oblivion. My date didn’t seem to interested in making sure I was ok. I remember seeing her with someone else across the room. They were making out. It didn’t matter. I had found a new hook up, a hook up with pills.
The rest of the afternoon and night passed disappeared in a blob of pulsing music and foggy thoughts. In the morning I woke up in an empty basement. A smell of sweat and urine stung my nose. Without the dim lights you could see the black mold and grime that blanketed the walls and floor. I was sprawled on one of the couches. The air was damp. “Hello?” I called. No answer. My head hurt as I stood up slowly. Unsure of what to do I went upstairs and began to look for the girl I came with. The house was empty. My shoes made an earie click on the hardwood floors. Like my first hook up’s apartment there were no decorations, no lived in feel. Finally I gave up. I had to piss. Finding the bathroom I went in. As I stood there, unloading all the smoke and fog from last night something caught the corner of my eye, a shoe. There was a woman’s shoe laying next to the bathtub. Zipping up my pants I approached the tub. A strange sensation began to bubble in my stomach. With a moist palm I hesitantly pulled the bath curtain back. My breath caught in my throat. Laying with her body twisted in an unnatural angle was the girl I’d come with. Her eyes were open, glazed, staring. Her purple mouth was cracked open. A white residue dusted her upper lip every so gently.
The ambulance was there within 10 minutes. She was pronounced dead on scene. With some shock and pity I answered the questions and went through the paper work. It wasn’t until late that evening that I finally made it back to my home. Two days later I received the call. It was from the coroner. After exchanging a polite but rather awkward introduction he asked an even more awkward and strange question. “Well sir, it seems as if this young woman has no family or friends that can be found. Usually for these types we hold a small service just to lay the poor soul to rest. Since you’re the one that found her, we would like to possibly invite you to attend. I know it’s a little unorthodox but you are the only person we have in connection with her.” His voice was dry and crackely like paper.
“Sure,” I said,”I’ll come.” I hung up the phone. The next day I went to the strangest funeral I had ever attended. There was a priest, the coroner, and an alter boy. A janitor stood silently in the back ground, broom in one hand, the other wiped the corner of his eye. “Such a shame,” he muttered,”Such a shame to live such an empty life and to die such an empty death.” A chill crawled up my spine.
Her hair was red and long. It floated like a shroud over her shoulders. A faint rosy blush kissed her cheeks, as if she were not dead but merely asleep. As I stood there, a feeling of tiredness swept over me. I didn’t even know her name. Turning I left the chapel. I spoke to no one. Hailing a cab I climbed in and returned home. Some people haunt you forever. You can’t say why or really understand who they were or their purpose in your life, but they haunt you. She haunts me to this day. Her red hair, her blue dress, her weary nod. The cold way she handed me the coffee mug. She’ll haunt me till death comes to my door and finally frees me from this empty life.