by John Carroll
No one in my family talks about Uncle Terry, or why there never was a funeral. We did have a wake. We gathered at his house. The priests came in turtlenecks and polo shirts. My mother hovered by the basement door, ushering me away when I pleaded for just a minute at the pool table. My cousins suffered a similar fate. We soon gossiped to one another, only to find we’d been told the same story: Uncle Terry was working in the basement and accidentally stuck his finger into an electrical socket, a Saturday morning cartoon turned fatality.
This lie, which we later individually pieced together, was pre-meditated, passed around in the hours and days after his death. It was a family contract: if they couldn’t know why, we wouldn’t know how. The coffin we never saw was stuffed with the facts of his life. I’ve still yet nothing further to report.
John Carroll has published fiction in Philly Fiction 2 (Don Ron Books),Versal, Interrobang!? and The Battered Suitcase. He received his MFA in Creative Writing from American University in Washington, DC. He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, where he was born and raised. He is a former staff member of the Kelly Writers House, as well as the former Arts and Culture Editor of the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin. He currently blogs at OhJohnCarroll.com, as well as maintaining the Poetry, By Google Voice web site.
Image credit: Johannes Jansson