My Final Bow

I don’t know if you’ve ever seen someone shoved into a bodybag, but I have. Once. It shook me.

It was at the Alabama-Georgia state line, off Interstate 85. That night, I happened upon two cars parked around a clump of smoldering steel. The driver was already dead. When the paramedics came, they removed him from the scene — in a bodybag.

The whole ordeal turned my stomach sour. I had to pull over at a gas station just to calm down. I ate four honey buns, I remember that.

Look, I’m not afraid of taking my final bow, I swear it. But what about my family? I don’t want to miss out on what happens while I’m away.

And what about my hateful fifth-grade teacher? The miserable soul who flunked me. Yes, that’s right, I failed the fifth cotton-picking grade. I can’t die. Not yet. Because I have unfinished business with that mean little thing. I never got a chance to show her I’m not as stupid as she told me.

Or to tell her I forgive her.

Also, I can’t leave my friends, the lovable fellas in my line of work; who are every bit as off-kilter as I am. Well, except Chuck. He’s got us all licked.

And I’d miss my relatives, both good and bad, who’ve taught me things about myself — both good and bad. The fact is, I’m still learning how to be myself. I haven’t mastered it yet.

I’d still like to see a few more babies, eat more ice cream cones. Or listen to more Willie Nelson songs, or get kisses on the lips by a woman who nicknamed me Fool-Ass.

If I die, that means I have to say goodbye to her. My best friend who sleeps beside me. Who’s busy vacuuming the house right now. Who makes biscuits every weekend, who has perfected chicken and dumplings. Who clips the hair poking out of my ears. Whose head fits perfectly in the notch beneath my arm. I’m not afraid of bodybags. But I don’t want to leave.

And I’ll be frank;

I can’t believe I just told you about the fifth grade.