I wipe the tears from my eyes and sniffle. I open the front door to find my friend, Beth, standing there with yet another bowl of potato salad. This one is covered in paprika. I can’t stand the stuff. Her husband Mike is standing beside her, uneasy in his suit and tie; he’s a jeans and t-shirt kind of guy.
“Oh, Mary, honey, “she starts, “I’m so sorry about your brother Larry. I don’t know what you and Martha are going to do now that’s he’s gone. It’s—”
Mike grabs her wrist, grunts, and gives her the evil eye. She stifles immediately.
“Here we brought you some potato salad,” Mike says, as he pushes the bowl towards me.
I sniffle again. “C’mon in. We are leaving for the cemetery in 5 minutes.”
Mike and Beth walk with me towards the dining room. My sister Martha rips the bowl of potato salad from her hands. “Thanks so much, guys,” Martha says, as she blows them an air kiss.
Martha begins re-organizing the bowls on the dining room table. “Let’s see, I’ll put this right next to the macaroni salad and the other potato salad that’s almost empty,” she mumbles.
I can’t even think about food right now.
Mr. Garrison, the Funeral Director clears his throat.“Ok, folks, it’s time to go,”he announces. “Please take one of these ‘Funeral ‘ flags, and put it on the driver’s side on the hood of the car. It has a very strong magnet. And please put your headlights on. Oh, and stay together. Although funeral processions have the right of way, cops and 18-wheelers still have the right of way in all situations.”
Martha nods and smirks at Mr. Garrison. She loves an organized man with a plan.
Martha and I ride in the first car, following the hearse. I can’t drive anymore since I have too many speeding tickets. Maybe I should have walked. At least I wouldn’t have to listen to Martha drone on.
“And where is Joshua?” she begins. “He’s supposed to be Larry’s best friend. If he showed up when we told him Larry was sick, maybe he would have done something. I just don’t know why he wasn’t here.”
Oh, here we go again. La-la-la-la, I can’t hear you.
As we pull into the cemetery, I see the familiar red Mustang. Joshua’s here!
The hearse driver pulls up to the gravesite, and opens the back of the car. Our cousins, the pallbearers, carry Larry’s casket over to the gravesite.
Martha and I follow behind them. As the pallbearers lay the casket down in its place, Martha runs off to the side of the crowd to speak to Joshua. She’s probably asking him which potato salad he would like, and which color napkins go best with paprika?
Martha comes over to me and tells me Joshua wants to speak with me. I feel the tears burning in my eyes again. Martha’s right about one thing–why didn’t Joshua come sooner?
The Priest steps forward to begin the funeral prayers. The Deacon opens the prayer book and hands it to the Priest. We all gather around the casket. Joshua begins to weep. “See how he loved him?” is whispered from the crowd.
Joshua turns to my cousins. “Open the casket,” he tells them.
Martha’s eyes bug out. “But Joshua, he’s been dead for four days, and he’s stinky.”
“Do it,” he says.
My brave cousin Johnny steps forward and slides back the lid.
“Larry, get up!” Joshua yells.
My eyes almost popped out of my face as I saw my brother Larry open his eyes and sit up.
The crowd was paralyzed for a moment. “Help him out,” Joshua says.
Johnny reaches over and gives Larry a hand. Larry climbs out of the casket. Camera-phones flash and click throughout the crowd. Cousins run up and slap Larry on the back. “Good to have you back, man.”
“I’m updating my Facebook status,” Beth calls out to me.
A bunch of folks start running to their cars. I’m not sure if they are scared, or what.
The Priest turns to the Deacon. “What are we going to do about this Joshua character? Who’s going to come to our church anymore if they can visit with Joshua and his friends and learn the ways of God? No one will come to us anymore and we’ll have to close down the church. “The priest takes a deep breath. “Hmm, maybe we can get him arrested? Practicing medicine without a license? “
“It’s worth a shot,” the Deacon agrees. “We have to stop this guy. He’s bad for business.”
Mr. Garrison, the Funeral Director, shakes his head, and says to the hearse driver, “I don’t understand it. I embalmed him myself. It makes no sense.”
Martha, Larry, Joshua and I get into Joshua’s Mustang and head for home. It’s such a relief to have Larry back. Martha and I could never cover the bills without him.
Maybe I can do something nice for Joshua. I have that really expensive perfume I’ve been saving for a special occasion……
**** This is my interpretation of The Gospel of John, Chapter 11, in a modern-day setting. For the REAL story, visit www.biblegateway.com and pick your choice of bible translations to read the story.
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