This was going to be a novel but I forgot temporarily that I am not a fiction writer.
I remember now.
But enjoy it anyway!
Neil Alejandro Cervantes
She would have hated this funeral if she were alive to see it.
It was too quiet.
“Hi Neil, glad you could make it.” Elaine says.
First of all, Miss Pixie Lorraine Prince was not a fan of any shades of pastels and these hideous pink double delight coneflowers they’ve got spread all around this damn sanctuary are not only blinding but out of season.
” I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.” I say back to her, clasping her black gloved tiny hands in mine.
Elaine Bright. Miss busy body. Pixie’s youngest sister. Have I had some times with this woman many moons ago! Here she was in her overdone flashy get up like she was a Diana Ross impersonator about to sing show tunes on the piano after the service. I see the red rose she is wearing on her lapel. Tacky.
I hugged her and she sobbed softly for a second or two before I self consciously stepped back but I hope she didn’t think it was because of the fact that she had drenched herself in some foul Christian Dior perfume knock off from the 80’s and her rhinestone encrusted veil was scratching my neck like a kitten trapped in a cardboard box. I was more frustrated at the thought that she might get cheap dollar store makeup and forced tear stains all over my Forzieri Sport coat before I got to see who all showed up.
I hoped that Elaine didn’t think that Pixie had left her any of her Best Seller book money. Girl please, every dime went to Manchester Prince! And he deserved it too! He always supported his mom, no matter how crazy she was. She left him with this person to go to Italy, or married this man or that one and he loved her regardless. And he turned out to be such a wonderful man. Just thinking about it made me miss my friend. I literally wanted to call her and say, your funeral is a mess honey. They in here playing amazing Grace for your ass!
Perhaps Elaine was putting on this god awful gaudy show because she was always jealous of her sister. Pixie was the black sheep who got all the attention by defying everything she was brought up to believe. I don’t think that was the way it was supposed to work. She was my personal idol. Right behind Oprah. Two black women unafraid to be trailblazers int heir industries, heaven be damned! And now Elaine knows that with her sister gone she could get her lawyer to turn all her books into movies so they both get paid. Maybe. But Rhinestones?
I couldn’t believe that my best friend, author, mother and all around diva, Miss Pixie Lorraine Prince would kill herself. I still don’t. But when I found out that my precious Pixie was dead I did what any good friend would do. I started calling her family and offering my event planning expertise to help make arrangements for her funeral. Elaine’s ass knew that I had my own interior decorating business and two event planning companies ( One for weddings and one for parties) because I was the one who planned Pixie’s 45th on the Queen Mary in Long Beach and flew her and her ragetty theiving boyfriend out to attend on my own dime so if anyone could turn a funeral into a classy homegoing event it was me.
Black Orchids were more her style.
But Miss Elaine here decided that since she was the only person in the family that Pixie was speaking to, she was obviously the person most suited to planning the services and what she came up with would terrify a schitzophrenic killer clown on anti psychotics. If it wasn’t going to be me it should have at least been Manny.
The chapel was filled to capacity, so many people here because they have to be. So many people Pixie didn’t talk to or even like.
Darryl McBride, Pixie’s last boyfriend was here. The man had one a three piece white tuxedo. I never understood what she saw in him other than his pretty face. He was and from the looks of it still is a complete fucking idiot.
So many cameras and press people sneaking in interviews and flash bulbing anyone with a hankie to their face. Elaine was eating it up.
I’m surprised Adonis Cole showed up and that he had the nerve to bring his 19 year old wife. Pixie used to be so in love with him but he never gave her the time of day no matter how rich and famous she became. She never really told me what happened between them but we both cried over it,many times over the years.
I could barely hear the minister mentioning we would start soon when Susan caught my eye.
Her skin was a ghostly gray and she was standing by the stained glass window staring at her shoes. She was wearing a simple black dress, two sizes too large and flats. It was the first time I had ever seen her without tennis shoes on and I had known her for twenty years. All those times Pixie tried to get her into heels! Well, at least she showed up. They had been estranged over some money for a few years now and as many times as I told Pixie to let it go, she never could.
I looked left and I could see Simon Kreiger pushing his way through the lookyloos crowded outside. He and Pixie and I used to work together at a bank in the early days of the new millenium. They had an affair while he was married that Pixie never regretted even when he dumped her. I always told her that she could do better . He seemed rracist to me. But she always held a flame for him. Skin color was never something she ever worried about. She wrote that first book about him and it made her famous. She dedicated every other one to him thereafter. They always talked no matter who they were with and honey, now that I think about it, she was better than me because I can’t stand none of my exes. He had lost a lot of weight since I had seen him last and all his hair too. Its funny she couldn’t see him right now because he looked like a much paler version of her favorite actor, Yul Brynner. Or was that Jason Statham? The things you forget about when you have known someone so long.
Susan could have been a very beautiful woman at one time even though her eyes were always loveless and dead. She never wore makeup and didn’t need it. All she would have had to do was smile.
Marie Leone walked out of the restroom and waved at me. It was good to see her here. She looked fabulous from head to toe.Italian made everything. I could smell the leather from where I was standing. She and Pixie were sorority sisters but I liked to call them frienemies. I was going to have to be seated next to her.
I don’t think I ever saw Susan smile, even on some of her happier days. I just don’t think she knows how. It didn’t seem that she had helped her baby sister Elaine with any preparations for this dog and pony show and was basically waiting for the whole thing to be over, one foot pointed toward the door, standing in the shadows the way that she always did.
I see that Trevon Baker came, Pixie’s first ex husband. When did he grow gray dreads down to his ass? I really thought she would have outlived that short ,bony evil little shit. But if you do more drugs than a Rolling Stones band member you will live forever, honey.
I went over to Susan and gave her a hug.
“You okay?” I asked.
” You have anything to smoke on you, Niel?” Susan replied rubbing her ashy hands together.
“Of course I do honey.” I said and nodding toward the back door I put her ice cold claw around my arm . It was almost like when you were with Susan you were invisible too. Noone followed us. No cameras clicked as we departed. A woman with no moxie is a waste, I always say.
Mrs. Wanda Wilson, Pixie’s Aunt, was already in the sanctuary taking off her shoes and stockings and getting ready to throw herself on the casket. Drama Queen. She was crazy and never found any occasion where it was inappropriate to cause a damn scene. If it wasn’t for Pixie none of the family would even talk to her. This was going to be her last chance at center stage before they all cut her nutty ass off so I was expecting a blow out. She had 15 or so dirty tissues bawled up by her gigantic faux Alexander McQueen handbag.
I was sure her antics would make the 11 PM Chicago News.
We walked through the crowd to the back of the church and exited to the alley. I pulled a tiny one hitter out of my jacket pocket, stuffed in a small amount of weed and lit it for her.
We stood there in silence for a few minutes while she smoked and stared at the street.
I knew Susan didn’t like me. She never actually said it to my face but she told everyone else she hated and didn’t understand gays. She told me one night while we were at a party at Pixie’s house that if she ever found out one of her son’s was gay, she would kill him herself. I felt so sorry for her. Especially since her youngest son clearly plays for my team. Susan was always shy though, not like Elaine and Pixie. And being the middle child couldn’t have helped her much. She never came to any events with Pixie and I unless there was no way for her to get out of it. A woman always on edge is a waste, I always say.
“How are the boys?” I asked rubbing her shoulder. She flinched but not as much as she would have any other time.
“Taking it hard. My oldest is in graduate school, ” She responded pulling hard from the bowl, ” And he couldn’t make it but he was pretty hurt when I told him two weeks ago.”
Susan shuffled rocks in the alley with her feet. I never understood how her hair was always so sandy brown and her sisters had hair black as night.
“Yes, she always said he was her favorite.” I said, trying to figure out what to do with my hands. It was cold. The city kept moving. Cars kept pulling up. The sun was shining but no heat.
“My youngest stayed with Manny all week. They came up here together. I haven’t seen either one of them yet.”
She finished the bowl and scooped her hair into a tight bun. She took a bobby pin off her bra strap to keep it in place. She looked so tired. Honestly I couldn’t tell if she was distraught because she was here at her older sister’s funeral and there were ghastly pink bouquets everywhere or if she was mad she couldn’t smoke in the church or something.
A woman who is hard to read is a waste, I always say.
“Its good to see you, Neil.” She said, still staring at her feet. I opened the door for her and we went back inside.
Let the show begin.