WHO WILL MOURN FOR ME?
By Ron Burch
That is the thought that wakes you up around midnight on a Wednesday night. You roll over to go back to sleep, to try to shrug it off, but you can't. Even though you're drunk, not sloppy drunk, you can't go back to sleep so you sit up in bed and wander out to the living room. You call your ex who answers the phone sleepily. You ask her if she will mourn for you. She asks, Who is this? and then says Are you drunk dialing me? No, you reply, I'm sober. In the background, you hear another voice. She tells the voice to shut the fuck up.
What you realize is that you would like to die in your garden, like what happened to that gangster in The Godfather. Just drop dead in a minute or so around the plants that you loved, near a home you loved, in the sun. But you don't have a garden or a home. Just an apartment on the third floor of a walk up in Los Angeles.
Your ex is talking to you again: why the fuck're you calling me in the middle of the night? While she is cursing at you, you wonder if your funeral would be well attended. Like pictures from the 20s where streets were crowded with black and white people, their faces lost in the graininess but their bodies present for some funeral, probably of a war hero or cinema star.
You tell her that you're sorry. She is now talking with the guy who she is with tonight. This one sounds as if he has an accent so it is not the one you have heard before. And you don't really want to hear this guy. You may have wanted to in the past but that is the past and you are in the now and now is making you wonder will anyone cry at your passing.
She is still talking, now arguing, with the man in her bed and you hang up the phone because you hadn't wanted to start a fight.
You are merely looking for a simple answer.
You frantically start to call your friends, a few that you have known for awhile and it goes to their voicemails. No one is there for you so you call more people. You look at your contact list on your phone, trying to decide, in this moment, who really is important to you and who is not.
You call up a woman that you have gone out on a couple dates with. Maybe it will go somewhere but it is not rushing forward like a horse on an open plain. She mumbles hello and you remember that she has trouble waking up, that it takes her 20 to 30 minutes to finally come to and you say her name but she babbles something incoherent back, something about a cafeteria, and you whisper to her, Go back to sleep, I never called and hang up the phone.
You end up phoning 15 or 18 or 20 people, you don't know, you lose track. You leave short messages for most of them, asking this question, hoping you will get an honest answer but at this time of night when the clock doesn't seem to move and the outside world sounds dead and you are merely you without the distraction of not being you, it is a dire time indeed.
You wonder if you should drink more to make this thought go away but you are afraid that it will only make it worse. That you have already started drinking more to make many thoughts like these go away and sometimes you succeed and sometimes you don't.
And then your phone rings. It rings again and you now feel foolish for bothering people and waking them up in your moment of personal crisis. And you let it ring until it goes to voicemail but then it rings again and it is someone different and as you start receiving a flurry of multiple calls, you know that it will be all right to finally go to sleep until the daylight wakes you yet again.
Ron Burch's fiction has been published in numerous literary journals including Mississippi Review, The Saint Ann’s Review, Eleven Eleven, Pank, and been nominated for The Pushcart Prize. Bliss Inc., his debut novel, was published by BlazeVOX Books. He lives in Los Angeles. Please visit: www.ronburch.com.