At Uncle Ellis’s funeral, Marvin hated wearing his nice-nephew mask. Yet, this mask was a necessity.
As light brown-skinned Elder Hollingsworth gave the eulogy, Marvin sniffled and pretended wiping away a tear.
Sitting next to him, Aunt Gwendolyn patted Marvin’s knee. A slender Aunt Gwendolyn owned medium-brown skin, almost Marvin’s skin complexion. Today, she wore a reddish-brown wig.
Years ago, Uncle Ellis told Marvin he was the primary beneficiary of his life insurance policy. Today, to prove he deserved his uncle’s money, Marvin wore the nice-nephew mask.
Again, Marvin sniffled and wiped away a fake tear. Again, Aunt Gwendolyn patted his knee.
The eulogy soon ended. Now, it was time to move Uncle Ellis to his final resting place.
Volunteers for pallbearers were called. Marvin stood up and joined the other volunteers at the casket, something he really didn’t want to do. Yet, this was part of the act. He needed to fool people.
Soon, Marvin and the other pallbearers walked the casket out of the church. Outside, the casket was lifted into the back of the hearse. Marvin hoped this created a good impression.
Next, he entered a limousine and sat next to Aunt Gwendolyn.
With one hand, Marvin covered his eyes and continued sniffling over and over again.
Also sniffling, Aunt Gwendolyn grabbed his other hand and held it.
At the cemetery, Marvin joined the other pallbearers. As they started carrying the casket, he noticed the long walk to Uncle Ellis’s final resting place.
Last night, Marvin was boozing and partying at the nightclub. Plus he didn’t hit the bed until morning. Also, Marvin hadn’t eaten anything since last night.
All this worked against him as he helped carry Uncle Ellis’s heavy casket. As sweat formed on his forehead, Marvin felt almost faint.
Yet, he dared not pass out. He figured fainting may ruin his mask. Instead of looking like the nice nephew, he might look like the idiot nephew.
Still, the heavy casket continued wearing Marvin’s body down. The heaviness forced him to place both hands on his part of the casket handle.
Finally, they reached the resting spot. In the few chairs in front of the casket, Marvin again sat by Aunt Gwendolyn.
When the casket lowered into the ground, Marvin yelled, “Oh lord! Good bye, Uncle Ellis!”
Then, he lowered his face into his hands and faked a loud cry.
Next, Aunt Gwendolyn cried also and wrapped an arm around Marvin’s shoulders.
Dinner was served at a local club house. At a table, Marvin sat across from Aunt Gwendolyn. As he dined on mashed potatoes, he felt Aunt Gwendolyn’s eyes on him.
He looked up at her. Aunt Gwendolyn continued staring at him.
“Something wrong, Aunt T?” he said.
In Marvin’s family, every aunt was called Aunt T.
“Don’t Aunt T me,” Aunt Gwendolyn said. “I didn’t see one tear come out of your eyes. All through the funeral just sniffling. Boy, I knew you were faking.”
Embarrassment burned Marvin’s face.
“Don’t worry, honey,” Aunt Gwendolyn continued. “I was faking too.”
Suddenly, Marvin looked Aunt Gwendolyn right into her eyes.
“Oh yea,” Aunt Gwendolyn continued. “Everybody knew how Ellis was. That man was his own worst enemy. That’s why he never got anywhere. When folks tried to help him, he wouldn’t listen. Yet, behaved as if he was the smartest man in the world. Could never win an argument with him. He was Mr. Know-It-All. Now, Mr. Know-It-All died a damned fool.”
Marvin couldn’t believe the words coming from Aunt Gwendolyn’s mouth. For all these years, he thought her and Uncle Ellis got along. Throughout the years, Aunt Gwendolyn always sent Uncle Ellis money.
Aunt Gwendolyn was a registered nurse who gained a master’s degree. She was now retired.
Then, Marvin asked, “Are you going to miss him?”
“I guess so,” Aunt Gwendolyn said. “He was my brother.”
“Well, he took care of me.”
“He left me his life insurance policy.”
Aunt Gwendolyn remained silent.
Then, Marvin asked, “What’s the matter?”
“Lord, ha’ mercy,” Aunt Gwendolyn said.
In a sad manner, she shook her head.
Fear gripped Marvin.
“What’s the matter, Aunt Gwendolyn?” Marvin asked.
“I guess you didn’t hear about that policy, did you?” Aunt Gwendolyn said.
“What…what…what do you mean?”
“He stopped paying for it, Marvin. Didn’t have the money. Ellis lost that insurance, honey.”
Marvin noticed relatives at the other tables staring at him. He then decided to keep his voice down.
Then, Aunt Gwendolyn said, “I had to pay for the funeral. Ellis didn’t have any money. Not one red cent. Probably gambled all of his money at the dog track.”
Marvin witnessed his world shattering, nothing left but broken pieces. He did all this damned acting for nothing.
“What’s the matter, Marvin?” Aunt Gwendolyn asked. “Angry about the money?”
Marvin remained silent.
Aunt Gwendolyn started laughing.
Then, she said, “Well, aren’t you something? After your uncle’s money. Marvin, you ought to be ashamed of yourself. It’s a good thing your mama isn’t alive to see this.”
That stung. Marvin stood up.
“Are you leaving?” Aunt Gwendolyn asked.
Marvin grabbed his plate and started walking off.
“What’s the matter?” he heard another relative ask. It sounded like Aunt Clara.
Then, Aunt Gwendolyn said, “Oh, he’s angry, honey.”
“Angry about what?”
“I told him Ellis lost his insurance money. And that’s why Marvin came to the funeral.”
“After Ellis’s money?”
“Well, isn’t he something?”
“Clara, I said the same thing.”
Again, Aunt Gwendolyn started laughing. Aunt Clara started laughing right along with her.
Marvin threw his plate in the trash. Then, he headed for the door.
Then, he heard Aunt Gwendolyn say, “Bye, Marvin. Maybe Christmastime, I’ll send you a five dollar gift card.”
Both aunts started laughing again.
After picking at him, Marvin was now done with his relatives. As far as he was concerned, his relatives could kiss his natural black ass.
With that thought, Marvin walked out the door.
Photo by Don LaVange.
Comments and criticism welcomed.