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The Wake

by ShinyPrettyFox 

Posted: 11 April 2006
Word Count: 854

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“Aren’t these vol-au-vents lovely, dear? Did you know the deceased well?”
“They are very nice, yes, just very messy and the crumbs get everywhere. I did know Michael very well; he was my business partner. I’m William by the way.”
“I’m very pleased to meet you, dear. I’m Doreen.”

The Wake of Michael Avery was being held in a small church hall in Islington. Michael had passed away the week before and all his friends and family had congregated after his funeral to pay their last respects with the help of a sizeable buffet.

“What a tragic death, dear. Being taken away from us at such a young age. But I suppose that at least he went the best way and died in his sleep.”
“That’s one way of looking at it, but he was driving his car at the time.”

William grimaced slightly at Doreen’s comment and then began to concentrate intensely on removing the vol-au-vent and sausage roll crumbs from his suit. After every bite he carefully dabbed his mouth with a napkin ensuring that the majority of the excess food would fall onto his plate and not the floor, table or himself.

“Look at the size of this slice of cake I’ve been given, William. I’ll never manage this at my age.”
“Yes, it is a big one, Doreen.”
“That’s what the actress said to the bishop you know.”
“I beg your pardon, can’t you show a little more respect; this is a wake.”
“Just my little joke, dear. It’s what Michael would have wanted.”
“Not the Michael I knew.”

Doreen gave William an over accentuated wink and began to demolish her huge portion of ‘Death by Chocolate’ cake. William remained stone-faced and scanned the room for another table to move to. Unfortunately, every table had been taken so William proceeded to straighten his cutlery and fold his napkin delicately until it was in the correct shape.

“Excuse me, but is this seat taken?”
A smart and prim blonde haired woman was hovering next to William.

“Er, no, it’s all yours, be my guest.”

The woman smiled and William thought ‘salvation’ to himself.

“Hello, dear. Are you a friend of Michael’s?”
“Er, yes, you could say that.”
“I’m very pleased to meet you, dear. I’m Doreen and this is William.”
“Hello, I’m Juliet, are you two mother and son?”
“No,” interjected William swiftly. “We’ve only just met as well.”
“But we’ve clicked already, haven’t we, dear?” Added Doreen with another wink towards William. Juliet giggled slightly and looked away.

An uneasy silence immersed the table momentarily with a sombre William straightening the tablecloth intently and a gleeful Doreen tucking into her second slice of cake. Juliet looked at both of her two companions nervously and then decided to break the quiet atmosphere.

“So, which one is Michael’s widow then?”
“The lady over there with the black veil on crying into her handkerchief,” responded William without looking up from his tablecloth straightening duties. “I thought you were a friend of his, weren’t you at the funeral?”
“Er, no, I didn’t think I’d be welcome actually.” Juliet spoke with a tear in her left eye.
“Why ever not, dear?”
“Erm, well, I …..”
“Hang on, your name rings a bell.” William stared at Juliet intently. “Juliet…..Juliet, how do I know your name?”
“I was Michael’s mistress.”
“Ooh, Michael’s bit on the side, were you, dear?” Doreen nudged Juliet.
“That’s where I knew your name from. You used to ring up the office a lot and Michael would always be a bit cagey about saying who you were.”
“That’s why I thought it would be improper for me to attend the funeral. Was it a nice service?”
“As funerals go it was a quick one really; no speeches just the vicar saying a few words.”
“I bet you two had a few quick ones in your time, dear.”
William had heard enough now as Juliet began to weep solemnly.

“Excuse me, Doreen, but I don’t mean to be rude but I find your behaviour extremely disrespectful and I think I can speak for the both myself and Juliet that we are deeply offended by your inappropriate use of language and innuendo at the wake of our dear friend Michael. We are both very upset and this really isn’t the time or the place to be so vulgar. This is not the set of Carry on at The Crematorium, it is a church hall where a large number of friends and family have gathered to offer each other condolences and to mourn the death of Michael Avery.”
“Ooh, Michael Avery, dear. Not Michael Fisher?”
“No.” William and Juliet spoke in unison.
“I’m terribly sorry, dear, I must be at the wrong wake. Still, the buffet was simply divine. I’d best be on my way then. It’s been lovely meeting you both and I’m very sorry for both of your losses. It must be very hard for you to take.” With that Doreen gave another playful wink and left the church hall leaving William and Juliet alone at their table, staring at each other in disbelief.

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