COPYRIGHT Paranoia by Joseph Finder. Copyright 2004 by Joseph Finder. All Rights Reserved. Sharing not permitted.
The guys from the funeral home came within an hour and zipped his body up in a body bag and took it away on a stretcher. They were a couple of pleasant, thickset guys with short haircuts, and both of them said, "I'm sorry for your loss." I called the funeral-home director from my cell and numbly talked through what would happen next. He too said, "I'm sorry for your loss." He wanted to know if there would be any elderly relatives coming from out of town, when I wanted to schedule the funeral, whether my father worshipped at a particular church where I'd like to have the service. He asked if there was a family burial plot. I told him where my mom was buried, that I was pretty sure Dad had bought two plots, one for Mom and one for him. He said he'd check with the cemetery. He asked when I wanted to come in and make the final arrangements.
I sat down in the ER waiting area and called my office. Jocelyn had already heard there was some emergency with my father, and she said, "How's your dad?"
"He just passed," I said. That was the way my dad talked: people "passed," they didn't die.
"Oh," Jocelyn gasped. "Adam, I'm sorry."
I asked her to cancel my appointments for the next couple of days, then asked her to connect me with Goddard. Flo picked up and said, "Hey there. The boss is out of the office—he's about to fly to Tokyo tonight." In a hushed voice, she asked, "How's your father?"
"He just passed." I went on quickly, "Obviously I'm going to be out of it for a couple of days and I wanted you to give Jock my apologies in advance—"
"Of course," she said. "Of course. My condolences. I'm sure he'll check in before he gets on the plane, but I know he'll understand, don't worry about it."
Antwoine came into the waiting area, looking out of place, lost. "What do you want me to do now?" he asked gently.
"Nothing, Antwoine," I said.
He hesitated. "You want me to clear my stuff out?"
"No, come on. You take your time."
"It's just that this came on sudden-like, and I don't have any other place—"
"Stay in the apartment as long as you want," I said.
He shifted his weight from one foot to the other. "You know, he did talk about you," he said.
"Oh, sure," I said. He was obviously feeling guilty about telling me that Dad hadn't asked for me at the end. "I know that."
A low, mellow chuckle. "Not always the most positive shit, but I think that's how he showed his love, you know?"
"He was a tough old bastard, your father."
"It took us some time to kind of work things out, you know."
"He was pretty nasty to you."
"That was just his way, you know. I didn't let it get to me."
"You took care of him," I said. "That meant a lot to him even though he wasn't able to say it."
"I know, I know. Toward the end we kind of had a relationship."
"He liked you."
"I don't know about that, but we had a relationship."
"No, I think he liked you. I know he did."
He paused. "He was a good man, you know."
I didn't know what to say in response to that. "You were really great with him, Antwoine," I finally said. "I know that meant a lot to him."