James LePore: Project 52/2015: Uncle Aldo (Joey and Eddie, 3)

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14814_1761684lSt. Anthony and the Child Jesus, © James LePore

“Talk about coincidences,” said Eddie

“Uncle Aldo,” said Joey. “Unbelievable.”

“Do you remember when Sylvia went to the Peace Corps?”

“No.”

“You were just a kid.”

“What happened?” Joey asked.

“She was sent to a village in Africa,” Eddie replied, “to live with the Berbers.”

“From Great Neck?”

“It’s a tribe.”

“I know. I was trying to be funny. What happened?”

“She was stung by a scorpion the first night,” said Eddie “She almost died. They had to send her home. Uncle Aldo tried to burn the village down.”

“What?”

“They arrested him getting on the plane.”

“He was crazy even then,” said Joey. “Although I don’t blame him.”

“Of course. Your daughter gets bit by a scorpion, you try to incinerate two hundred people.”

“What happened?”

“He pleaded temporary insanity.”

“How old is Sylvia?” Joey asked.

“Fifty?”

“Who’s that with her?”

“Her husband,” said Eddie. “I met him last night at the wake. You were outside smoking the whole time.”

“I thought she married a black guy.”

“That was three husbands ago.”

“Did she remember you?” Joey asked.

“Yes,” Eddie said. “She was very grateful that we drove all the way up here for the funeral.”

“Did you bring up the goat?”

Eddie looked at his younger brother, and was about to say something sarcastic, but decided against it. He looked around instead, at the small crowd around the gravesite murmuring quietly, occasionally taking sideways glances at the bronze casket sitting gleaming in the hot sun. “Don’t worry,” he said, “we’re not taking him back to New York.”

“He’ll be fine with those alpacas.”

“Here comes the priest.”

The priest, a husky middle-aged man with a red nose and deep blue eyes,  stood before the casket and spoke.

“What is that?” said Eddie.

“Latin.”

“How do you know Latin?”

“I was an altar boy, remember?”

“What’s he saying?

May the angels lead you into paradise. 
May the martyrs come to welcome you 
and take you into the holy city, the new and eternal Jerusalem.”

“Jerusalem?” said Eddie. “I thought that was a city for Jews?”

“Don’t make fun of the Church, Eddie. You think I’m happy about bringing that goat all the way up here?”

“I’m not.”

“It’s the best deal.”

“What’s the best deal?”

“The Catholic Church.”

“How do you know?”

“My gut.”

“Did the priest try to touch you when you were an altar boy?”

Joey didn’t answer. The priest had stopped talking and the mourners were placing flowers on the casket.

“I’m sorry,” said Eddie.

“Those alpacas looked like good people.”

“I know. I’m sorry about that remark.”

“Don’t worry. You’re an animal person.”

“I am.”

“I’m trying to teach you stuff, Eddy,” said Joey. “But you won’t listen.”

THE END (For Now)

james

About Project 52/2015: I like to take pictures and I like to write fiction. This Blog will combine the two in what I am calling Project 52/2015, one of my images mated with a piece of very short fiction each week in 2015. Enjoy.

James LePore is the national bestselling author of numerous novels, most recently, God’s Formula, which he wrote with Carlos Davis. Visit his website.

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