I'm sweating like a pig even though the room is very cold. It's better for the corpse I'm told. I didn't look at the body, it's behind me, I'm looking out at the saddest group of mourners you could put together. I hang on to the lecturn, knuckles clenched, jaw working. They are bawling like calves being weaned.
Dave is blowing loudly into his handerchief, muttering about an unchosen continuation. Prince Parakeet is chewing his thumbnail to the quick, he's bleating on about the cartoon needing a caption, Phoenix is beside herself, she's a twin and they dressed in identical designer blue jeans with sparkly shirts and white cowboy hats. Smartly tailored, even though eye make up is running down four cheeks. Phoenix is muttering about how could he do this to her and now of all times. Inconsiderate so and so. Rudy is having a quiet nervous breakdown, Heat is comforting her. Whirlygig is stock still, maybe shock. Man Alive is saying too loudly he doesn't like it either, a tear leaks out of his eye on the left. Poor 119, she is a mess, shaking, I catch something about being next in the query line up and not convenient, not convenient at all.
And me, why am I giving the eulogy about someone I didn't know very well? We submitted eulogies and I lost, I mean won. My eulogy was based in China, it went downhill from there. But the critiquing went well, I did about two dozen revisions, submitted it again for a final tweak and here I am. I am ready to start. In comes Bloggy. For heaven's sake there are newcomers herding in behind him. It's an AA meeting for writerholics. Bot is tall, about a head higher than the rest. The top hat adds a little extra dimension.
"As you know, this eulogy is set in China." I begin. I almost jump out of my skin when I hear a bellow behind me. I swing around, my God, it's Evil! Sitting up, yelling. The gasps in the room leave me wondering if there's enough air left for me to breath.
Evil climbs out of his coffin, shoves me aside and grabs the oak lecturn. I swear I see the muttonchops vibrating. He's a big man.
"I have you all here in one room for one reason," booms out of his girthness.
"Evil, you're alive! What the blazes?" Daves on his feet.
"It's my birthday and for once I didn't want to spend it pouring over queries." Then Evil smiled, he folded his hands, gave a nod to the back of the room and in came the marching band, a three foot cake and a miniature donkey wear a pink party hat and oversized sunglasses.
"Make an old man happy minions, sing happy birthday to me." He meant it. I saw him try to hide how touched he was when the minions stood, joined arms and sang happy birthday to that lonely, tired old man.
And me, I was grateful I didn't have to endure a public critique by the man himself on my eulogy. He was very sweet actually and told me to post it, he'd get to me in due course. Then he whispered to not ever again mention the C. word to him on his blog. I nodded and slunk to the side of the room and kept going. I had a narrow escape, I slipped out the door to "He's A Jolly Good Fellow". I needed a drink.