The funeral started at the Portland Chapel at 11a.m. Monday. I arrived twenty minutes early. The only people there were the pastor, organist, and Mrs. Emily Powell. Mrs. Powell was the rich, white liberal who was paying for the funeral. She was a tiny woman, in a dress-up dress, understated, black.
The deceased was a black baby girl found dead in a dumpster in Northeast Portland. It was determined the baby died after being put in the dumpster.
I wore my only dressy outfit: gray slacks, blue dress shirt, black shoes. I was a sixty-year-old man, retired, so had no trouble attending.
At eleven only ten more people had arrived, five white, five black. The woman in the same pew with me moved down next to me. She was white like me. All in black.
"There should be more people," she said.
I nodded as the organist began playing the Old Rugged Cross. The music went on for awhile then the pastor stepped up to the podium. The pastor was a black woman, tall, late fifties.
"I'm not going to do a formula eulogy, this baby deserves better. We can all make assumptions about the parents of this child, but the tragedy is they didn't turn the baby over to authorities. This child might have grown up to do wonderful things. This baby was cheated. And so was society. I hope all of you here will do what you can to prevent things like this happening. I want to thank Mrs. Powell for providing for this funeral. I'm not going to say a prayer. I want you all to sit in silence and say your own prayer."
We sat for awhile. I said a silent prayer. The music began again and soon it was over.
That's it? I thought it wasn't right. Then I thought it was. Anything else the pastor would've said would've been bullshit.
The pastor went over and shook Mrs. Powell's hand. We all got up and shook hands with each other and thanked Mrs. Powell.
We walked out into the bitter winter wind. As people drifted off I said to the woman who sat next to me: "There's a nice coffeehouse two blocks down from here, I'd like to buy you a cup."
"Why?" she said
"Because you give a fuck."
Copyright 2015 David Elsey