Dixon Morris felt completely out of place.
Despite the pleasant weather and perfectly manicured park around him, all he wanted to do was turn around and walk away.
The black suit was borrowed. It felt stiff and weird on his body. His throat was constricted behind the Windsor knot of the tie and the seam of the starched, brand new shirt felt like it had twisted itself and was digging into the thin skin below his Adam's apple.
He held his hands from tugging at his collar. He'd done that often enough for his mum to shoot him a stern look and he didn't want to earn a sharp elbow.
Not while the priest was talking about forgiving and forgetting.
Obviously the priest didn't know shit.
So Dixon focused on the black hole in the ground and tried to ignore the urge to jump in and kick in the wood at the bottom. And not stop until he'd smashed the contents into wood splinters and mush.
He looked down at his shoes. A brand new pair that chafed and made it look like black underground beetles had devoured his feet.
Graveyard beetles. Scavengers. Nature's cleaning crew. Those would do his job of disintegrating the wooden box and its contents.
Dixon hoped the poor beetles wouldn't die from alcohol poisoning.
Somewhere in the back of his attention, the priest was saying something about going to heaven and the righteous path of man.
A sound like a derisive snort was heard from the opposite side of his mother. He glanced sideways to see his sister Emily with a handkerchief in front of her face, trying to disguise a disgusted grin as crying.
Their mum somehow managed to deliver a pair of simultaneous nudges to remind them of the situation.
Both teenagers straightened their backs immediately, but Dixon knew that if he looked at Emily at that moment, a bubble of hysterical laughter would burst from where it sat in his chest like a hot lump of lava.
The priest finally stopped talking about what a great man Richard Morris had been and picked up a surrealistically small, perfectly shaped shovel and used it to pick up a tablespoon worth of soil from the nearby pile. The dirt hit the wood with a dry, hollow thump that made Dixon again aware of the stiff collar of his shirt, and he wished he had a pair of sunglasses.
Ashes to ashes was a joke.
Thump, another spoonful of dirt fell into the hole.
Dust to dust was an insult.
Dixon was fairly sure that when the time came to rise again, the resident of the cheap plywood box would not be marching in with any saints and there would likely not be any amazing grace.
The man would most likely stay like he was, in his ugly brown coffin, until some archeologist came digging through this cemetery and deduce that 21st century people were skinny, yellow, neurotic psychopaths.
He wished they had opted for cremation, but of course his control freak of a so called dad, had written a very specific last will at the hospice.
Besides... with the life the asshole had lived, he would probably have caused an explosion in the crematorium. According to the doctor at the hospice, liver failure was what caused the guy in the box to take up residence at turf terrace, never to be seen again. Dixon had held back a "no shit sherlock!" when they were given this information. Thankfully the respect for his mum held the words in.
Dixon hated how even in death, his dad continued to terrorise them. The last will and testament asked for a proper funeral and required his two kids and ex-wife present to be named heirs of his fortune. Who would have thought the origin of half his dna actually was worth anything? But apparently the house of horrors that Dixon endured his childhood in was owned outright and by some miracle Ricky Morris was debt free. The testament hinted to some hidden values in the house as well, which in Dixon's mind probably meant a stash of empty bottles.
The mechanism lowered the coffin deeper into the ground. Dixon had placed it on the contraption half an hour earlier. The other pall bearers stood to the side with solemn faces. The doctor from the hospice had claimed "great rapport" with Ricky and offered to help. In addition to him and Dixon, four of what Dixon saw as the his extended family had carried the bulk of the weight, leaving Dixon with very little of the physical burden.
A pair of worried golden eyes met Dixon's. He hadn't spoken with Ezekiel before the funeral. Dixon's mother had asked him to be there, but Dixon knew from the concern obvious on his face that Ezekiel would have been there, even without the task of pall bearing.
Next to Ezekiel, Ezekiel's father, Hunter and cousin, Sam looked bored.
The last of the four, Ameer, seemed more occupied with how Emily was coping than what the priest was saying. Dixon hid a smirk at the way Emily straightened her dress every time she caught him looking.
The gratitude for those four men sharing his burden on a day like this, made Dixon feel less like he was burying a father and more like he was kicking a bad habit.
The final notes of a hymn were sung. With a grand total of 10 people at the service, the priest was left to sing alone. Once the final prayer was done the priest approached them and grabbed Dixon's mum's hand.
"June! I'm so sorry for your loss!" He said solemnly before turning to Dixon.
"My condolences," he told Dixon.
Dixon nodded, holding back a "Good riddance!" as the priest approached Emily and mumbled another superficial empathic sentiment.
Dixon took a few steps forward towards the hole in the ground and stared into it while considering if spitting into it was worth the punishment his mum would think of.
A month without TV? No problem.
A week without the computer? He could deal with that.
Worst case scenario was not being allowed to help train Ezekiel's dogs, which was not worth the risk.
His musings were interrupted by a hand on his shoulder. He didn't have to turn his head to know Ezekiel was right next to him.
"Don't think of what he was. Or what he did. Think of what you can achieve that he never did!" Ezekiel said quietly.
"Stay sober!" Dixon muttered.
"Don't hit people!" Dixon said.
Ezekiel nodded again.
Slowly Dixon lifted his head and faced the grown man next to him. Something hovered just outside of his mind's reach.
"Or I could stop other people like him?" He said.
"Or you could help people like yourself, your mum and sister," Ezekiel said.
Dixon looked at his still skinny mum. She still suffered from tinnitus and chronic headaches on top of the PTSD.
His eyes burned as he looked at Ezekiel again.
"That wasn't love, was it?" Dixon stated.
Ezekiel shook his head sadly.
Dixon defiantly kicked a small pebble into the dirt where it hit the coffin with a hollow thud. It was worth risking his mother's fury.
"He's gone. Which means you get to define who you are without him. Be better!" Ezekiel said with a final squeeze of his shoulder before turning to walk towards a bench where his wife Allie waited with their newborn son.
"Anything is better than you!" Dixon muttered towards the grave and walked away to his mother and sister.
YOU ARE READING
Best Foot ForwardGeneral Fiction
Dixon Morris is a young man with a past. Forced to grow up too fast, he's used hiding his true self. but he's determined. no one is going to tell him who he can be and what he can do. least of all his dad. this is a freestanding side story to A Woma...