| THE CREMATION
It was the conclusion of short service--the minister of the chapel asked--would the person who is accepting William MacGinnis's ashes please come forward--there was an uncomfortable silence--pregnant seconds dragged by--my companion squeezed my hand giving me a side glance--my return grasp and the negative look on in my face answered her. The beautiful Maureen--my years ago bartender in the after-hours Club I had operated many years ago--now a spokeslady for a popular brewery for their TV ads--Billy was the love of her life--she had married a wealthy businessman--but some things never change. Billy Mac, with his wide Irish face and grin--disarming to the uninformed- the Irish would say, "had 'a touch of the whore"--a gift or antenna that could seek and seduce a man's darker side. When the seduction was completed the person or institution was usually left better educated on trust issues--it also resulted in hot pursuits and some serious beatings. Billy seemed to enjoy the risk. Threats of physical harm--jail--public embarrassment--fazed him not.
The brunt of an Atlantic snowstorm was due in the Boston area in a few hours and it had started its overture as we headed south to the historical town of Plymouth. New England weather had decided to live up to its reputation and put on a show for Billy Mac's funeral service. As the service ended there were a few handshakes at the entrance--mostly from my past--gamblers hustlers--degenerates of another generation, the interest was more in my companion, thankfully, we were able to nod and smile our way through the small congregation--we were in no mood to exchange memories of Billy Mac.
One of the four unsavory characters who had arrived in an older Cadillac--probably hoping to hasten the close of the service--accepted the ashes. They had parked the Cadillac at an angle that provided no traction and the Atlantic wind had driven the snow into drifts now piling against the vehicles--Three of the men had begun rocking the vehicle as the driver unsuccessfully spun its wheels. The Atlantic gale had gained in ferocity. The other vehicles, leaving slowly, moved past the scene with the collective thought that ...if these were Billy's friends,...It was probably safer to ignore the situation. As we approached my car the driver exited the Cadillac and proceeded to dump Billy Mc's ashes under the car's rear wheels for traction. There was something ironic to that scene--as Billy was not one for waiting around either. Maureen stared at the blackened snow patch as I opened her car door; she smiled-- "Billy would have done the same thing"- I leaned in and grabbed the empty coffee cup off the console. The storm's tempo was increasing and we had 30 odd miles back to the city. The Cadillac had since fishtailed out of the chapel parking lot--the urn package had blown into the wind--half filling the cup from the ashes enmeshed in tire tracks I returning to the car. Maureen had turned to the door window gazing at white memories.