Years had passed since he was gone. Died on this very day back in 1975. Massive heart attack. No-one saw it coming. Not her, not me. One minute he was drinking coffee and then boom; out like a light.
He seemed to go quickly. Complained of being dizzy. Little pain in his arm. Said his chest was tight. Mom poured another cup and turned around to find the fat man on the floor grabbing at his heart. He said no words. Just kept looking up at the ceiling. Breathing hard, or, not breathing at all. Laying there in pain.
I felt bad because I continued eating my breakfast. Two eggs, bacon, sausage patties, buttered white toast. Potatoes on the side. In fact when I saw him on the floor I asked if I could have his. Mom nodded her head. He’s too old to eat like that anyway, she said. Go on. Finish it boy, she poured me another orange juice.
Meanwhile, he laid there on the tile floor. Mom stepped over him to answer the phone. It was her sister from Arkansas. Asking how she was doing? And, what were the kids up to? She didn’t ask about the old man. Mom told her he was playing oppossum on the floor. Probably playing a trick on us all, she laughed. She kicked the side of his round leg. Get up you old buzzard, she said. Anyway, he’s always up to something, mom told her.
I remember coming home from school and the body was still laying there in the kitchen. Mom was sweeping around it. Are you gonna get up? she asked. You can’t lay there all day. I got work to do, she continued sweeping and shaking her head.I sat at the table watching. I’d never seen a dead body before. I looked straight at him. He didn’t look back.
Mom. You think something’s wrong with him? I asked. She laughed. No mom. I think there’s something wrong with dad, I said. She just stood there smiling. Has he been there all day? She nodded. Don’t you think you should call somebody? She put her broom down. She looked at me.
What do you want me to do? she asked. What am I supposed to do? she yelled. I don’t know what to do. It’s not my fault, she said. This was bound to happen one day or another. You call somebody, she said. Go on. End it. Call somebody and put this game to rest, she pleaded. This is just like him. Always quitting at the wrong time. There’s bills to pay. A mortgage. How are you going to get along? I shrugged my shoulders. That’s what I thought, she said. That’s what I thought. Well, I’m ready if you are. Get him out of here.
I dragged dad’s body out to the barn. Mom didn’t want any strangers in her house. I laid the old man out on straw with a pitchfork in his hand. Mom said, make it look like he was working. Wouldn’t want anybody to think he was lazy. I dialed 911. Told them that the old man had died. Could they send somebody out? Mom continued cleaning.