At the cemetery, which was called a burial park, and looked like a snow-covered golf course, we walked across the graves and their snow-covered plaques marking where the dead were buried — no headstones here — toward the rectangular cut out of earth where our friend’s pine coffin would be buried. The day, which had been sunny and almost Springlike during the perfect funeral service, had turned grey and the temperature dropped at least 15 degrees. Collars went up, hats were pulled down, gloves came out.
After shoveling some dirt to finish covering the pine top of Melz’s pine coffin, I spotted a very successful friend of the deceased. The young Melz had dreamed of being Fellini, and was in a way, he had a video company and directed and edited short films for business that I’m sure were artful. He was a very talented and tasteful guy. Melz’s friend and colleague who waved to me as I turned from the grave must be talented too, he sold his first great idea for several million dollars, I learned recently.
He and his wife smiled as I made my way over to them. We spoke briefly about the miraculous perfect game pitched by our mutual friend the rabbi as he sent off his best friend from childhood. 81 pitches, all strikes, 27 Ks. Nobody has ever painted a masterpiece in fewer strokes, every color and gradation perfect, unforgettable and untouchable in its architecture and balance.
“If he dies before us, who’s going to do our funerals?” he asked, puckish and urgent.
“Shit,” I said, “you’re right, we’d be fucked.” Then in an inspiration as sudden as one of Melz’s ridiculous absurdities thrown into the conversation, I said, “wait, I’ve got it, and you’re just the man for the job. We get Sokoll on tape doing our eulogies. We get final cut, so we can tweak him until it’s perfect… it’ll be great. I’ll send you my eulogy right away so you can get to work.”
Later, when we presented our concerns, our friend the rabbi promised us he’d do his best to outlive us so he could do our funerals live.
“Let’s go tuck Melz in,” said his wife gently after a round of smiles.
We walked over to the grave and continued shoveling, burying the pine box that contained the used up shell of the body that once housed our friend. There was odd comfort in this tucking of Melz in, and I took some more of it, a second round of shoveling, trying to fill the rest of the hole.