Against the Clouds

The mourners gathered in the street and onlookers held curtains
back or clicked the plastic blinds to see but not to be seen. Others stood
at open doorways watching silently. He must have been a wealthy man. Four
black Mercedes, long limousines and a score of undertakers.

The light faded and the sun obscured by grey clouds and the rain, the rain
fell hard and swift. The clouds rolled by heading south into the land of the

The chief undertaker and elderly man himself, not far from death, black
top-hatted in velvet, walked slowly ahead of the shining cavalcade. In his
right hand he held the black umbrella aloft and in his left hand he swung a
silver topped black Malacca cane. It moved cleverly in the funeral manager’s
hand, tapping out a slow rhythm on the wet shining asphalt like a beat on a
muffled drum.

A flock of funereal crows circled overhead.

The sleek cars followed the engines whirring silently. The mourners
ensconced on leather seats held hands, and slipped comfort words easily off
their lips to one another. The children dressed in black rode along squeezed
in between the adults feeling small and watching the eyes of living for

The leading hearse halted at the cross road to let the chief get in out of
the rain.

The driver commented to his colleague ‘It’s a perfect day for a funeral. I
hate sunny days.’

The last car followed. Not a limousine. An old car, not black, belonging to
a poor relative, it had a little flag on the bonnet flying precariously
against the wind, the magnet just holding fast on the rusting metal.

The limousines sped along the highway gathering speed. The routine of
observing death could not wait.

The route took them away from the clouds, to the dark vale of the north. The
deceased’s eyes closed, not wishing to see anymore, headed the way of
passing, now passed away. The coffin always heading forward, not back, there
is no coming back for the dead.

The long line of stately vehicles, the dignified drove on, living souls
contemplating the end of things searched for platitudes to share with the
Minister or God always seeking absolution or instead hiding behind the eyes
of fear.

The cavalcade of black shining cars, the occupants enclosed, trying out just
what it feels like to take the final journey, against the passing clouds.

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