It’s overcast. I’m on the wide porch of a friend’s house, chewing the fat on a vacation weekend. The house is perched on a little main road which cuts through a nondescript small town.
There are sounds of kids laughing and playing. Easy traffic. A dog barking. Lawnmowers running. A distant radio.
My wife is inside with everyone else, small bursts of laughter come from indoors. I’m on a rocking chair counting cars.
This is an old porch. The kind my father used to sit on. I can almost see his ghost, shirtless, reading baseball box-scores. Or carving a pine stick without any real reason for doing such.
And all of a sudden I see vehicles. Lots of them. A chain of wheels and bumpers that stretches backward to the tree line.
The first car is a police cruiser—lightbar flashing, driving at a dirge-like pace. Another patrol car follows. Then comes a slow-moving, extended Cadillac, black, with funeral curtains, and chrome fenders. The Caddy is followed by the world’s longest procession of traffic, each car with its
high beams on. A gazillion headlights. Maybe more.
The cars are soon flanked by a railroad crossing. The train is about to run. The barricades close, and the procession’s lead car slows to a halt at the gate.
The faroff whistle sounds out train-whistle code—two long, one short, one long. Earth rumbles beneath the diesel locomotive’s power. The motorcade begins to accumulate more vehicles behind the Cadillac while waiting for the train to pass.
There’s a man on the porch of the house next door to me. He's within spitting distance.
“A funeral,” I hear him say to his grandson over the din of the passing train as he opens his front door.
They step off their porch together to stand barefoot in the front yard while cars pass and the procession gets longer.
“Why’re we standing here like this, Grandpa?” says the…