Free Doves

A writers’ group meeting can be a great source of inspiration for a new story, although in this instance the usual disclaimer ‘This is a work of fiction’ might be appropriate.  😀 

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Is there anything more inspiring than the majestic sight of pure white doves soaring into the blue sky? When the service finished, I watched as the funeral directors released the birds before we made our way to where the ground lay in wait to receive the coffin.

It had been a good turn-out and despite all the animosity between us I had kept my promise. Six black horses had pulled the hearse in a carriage of white and gold, pall bearers had acted with dignity, resplendent in top hats and black tails, and even the celebrant had found something nice to say about him. Was it ethical for a woman of the cloth to tell lies?

For all his pretence of being a straight businessman, several of the Neanderthals in the crowd weren’t the type you would want to meet up a dark alley, or anywhere else for that matter. Mingling between them were various suits, and a spattering of good-time girls glaring at each other as they cried crocodile tears without smudging their mascara.

‘Another one gone then, Frank. How are you? It’s been a few years.’

‘Can’t complain, Bodger,’ I replied. ‘Yeah, it must be two or three since I last saw you. How you been keeping?’

‘Not bad, not bad. Slasher’s funeral wasn’t it? Not many of the old crowd left now. There must have been, what? thirteen or fourteen of us at the start.’

‘Thirteen. Don’t you remember they called us the Witches Coven? Just you, me and Dave left now. Oh, and the Accountant of course, but I heard he’s on his last legs after catching that tropical disease.’

‘Yeah, I heard that too. Can’t help thinking it serves him right. I wonder what did happen to all the money? With the others gone we’d have been rolling in it by now. Still, you seem to be doing all right for yourself. A little bird told me you’re paying for this shindig,’ Bodger said, giving me a sly look.

‘Well, for all his bravado, he was skint when he died. Those “ladies” don’t come cheap, and you have to honour a dying man’s last requests.’

‘I know you grew up together, but I didn’t realise you’d seen him recently. You were with him just before the end then?’

‘In a manner of speaking. I’ve got five witnesses to say I was out of the country when he breathed his last.’ I’d said more than I intended but Bodger kept pushing so it was quite a relief when the minister finished the service, we paid our respects and made our way towards the vehicles for the drive to the wake.

After I had a quiet word, the celebrant made sure he went in a different car and I was able to avoid him for most of the afternoon. It was only as he left that he managed to get in a passing hint.

‘Funny thing that Frank. You arranged all the funerals for the gang. At every one there were white doves, but always one less than the number of people surviving from the original gang. Bit like that Agatha Christie film. What was it called? And then there was one?’

‘Didn’t know you were a reader, Bodg,’ I told him. ‘You know, when they set the doves free sometimes they return home, sometimes they don’t. It’s possible there’ll only be two left for yours unless Dave goes first. Peace and Love my friend. See you soon.’

He stared at me in shock, but I think he got the message. A short while later all the guests dispersed, leaving just me and the minister.

‘Excellent service as usual Nathalie,’ I told her. ‘Any problems?’

‘No, everything went to plan as usual, but I’ll be pleased when it’s all over. Believe it or not, burying bodies in concrete is a lot easier than conducting a funeral service with an empty coffin. You wouldn’t believe the amount of paperwork I have to adapt before we get to this point. At least we don’t have to worry about the Accountant; two more and Rio here we come. I need to start doing some serious hot weather shopping.’

‘You do that Darling. I can’t wait to see you in a bikini but we were wise to wait until the heat was off. Thirteen million is going to go a lot further than a single million for my share. Another six months and we’ll be as free as the doves.’

© Voinks April 2018

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