Cemetery Street (Chapter 7, page 1 of 15)

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Chapter 7

"Would you like to be a pallbearer," Shannie asked, her right hand twisting her hair while her left danced over her sketchpad. The April sun chased the last chill from the air. The trees standing sentry duty between the Ortolan's backyard and Fernwood were threatening bloom. Singing their song, birds dipped and weaved across the cobalt sky. I watched a Robin land on the Ortolan's lawn, make short thrift of a worm and fly off. Only the Sandstone and Granite monuments in Fernwood didn't sense the change of season, for them it's always winter.

"For whom?" I asked, distracted by the monotonous cadence of a pair of doves. I thought of last summer when Count and I took turns using doves as targets for his B.B. gun. I wasn't a threat to the love birds, I didn't come close to hitting the nearest telephone pole. Count was fatal, killing both with a single shot. "How did you do that?" I cried. "It's all in the touch," he blew his fingertips.

"For me," she chirped. She looked up from her sketch pad.

"Plan on croaking?" I asked.

"Sure am. Want you to help?"

"Whatever," I returned to the book I was struggling to read. English assignments suck.

"You know the kid whose family owns the funeral home?" she asked.

"Steve Lucas," I sighed trying to concentrate on reading. "What about him?"

"I think he's cute. Think you could tell him I like him?"

Steve Lucas! I wanted to scream! What a dork! Stained teeth and pail skin, banner combination. Count said the only way someone could be that pale and not be dead was to ingest formaldehyde. If it wasn't for his discolored teeth it would be impossible to tell where his face ended and his mouth began. Beady brown eyes shifted under his out-of-date Beatles haircut.

"Are you feeling okay?" I dropped the book onto my lap.

"Better than yesterday, not as good as tomorrow," she answered not taking her eyes off her sketch. My Bug - the optimist.

"What do you see in him?"

"I don't know." Shannie stopped sketching and looked into Fernwood. "He seems sweet," she returned her gaze to me.

"As sweet as a pile of dog shit, about as popular to."

Shannie laughed. I didn't.

"You're jealous," Shannie chided.

"Jealous. Not!" I lied. "Worried? You bet!"

"Worried? Do tell."

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