| 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 look on in my face answered her. Maureen--at one time the bartender at a Club I operated in the center of the city--now a spokeslady for a popular brewery on their TV ads--Billy was the love of her life--she had married a wealthy businessman--some things never change. Billy Mac, with his wide Irish face and grin--disarming to the uninformed, had 'a touch of the whore' as the Irish would say, a gift or antenna that could seek and seduce a mans darker side. When the seduction was completed--the person or institution was usually left better educated on trust issues--or resulted in hot pursuits and some serious beatings. He seemed to enjoy the risk. Threats of physical harm--jail--public embarrassment--fazed him not.
The brunt of an Atlantic snowstorm was due in our area in a few hours and it had started its overture on our ride from the city. 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--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 Bill.
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 laying nestled 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. Suddenly the driver exited the vehicle and proceeded to dump Billy Mc's ashes under the cars rear wheels for traction. There was something ironic to that scene--as Billy was not one for waiting around either. Maureen stared at me, "Billy would have done the same thing" I offered--as I opened the car door and grabbed the empty coffee cup off the console. The storms 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--the ashes enmeshed in tire tracks. I was able to fill half a coffee cup of Billy before returning to the car. Maureen had turned to the side window gazing at white memories.