Gris-Gris, an online journal of literature, culture & the arts

Red Beans and Rice

by Glenn Bergeron II

Monday wouldn’t be Monday without red beans
and rice. (Emeril Lagasse)

 

I receive the call during lunch – sheriff’s
deputies reporting a death and the
services of our funeral home are
being requested. The half-eaten red
beans and rice in my plate remind me it
is Monday. A regular day for me.
An anniversary now for some poor
family I am about to assist.

I regret not asking for a doggie
bag while steering the hearse down rural roads
lined by water-filled ditches sprouting green
horsetail stems resembling asparagus.
Not being a stranger to this stretch, I
count the number of homes I’ve visited
in this capacity before – landmarks
of the dead, where last breaths have been released
along with souls, private dramas with no
award winning soundtracks save the weeping
and supplications of those who remain.

I’m up to five when the mailbox numbers
tell me I am close. A driveway of sun-
bleached oyster shells leads me to the address.
Two women smoking cigarettes hang their
heads in disbelief, rocking gently on
the front porch swing. “The deputy’s inside,”
whispers one as I approach. Inside, I
find the television on but muted.
The Simpsons jiggle on the screen and pay
no mind to my presence. A revolver
encased in a clear plastic bag sits on
a coffee table littered with beer cans,
overflowing ashtrays, and newspapers.

The body sits in a recliner, the
hands covered with paper bags taped at the
wrists for forensics. Flat-topped and obese,
the deputy writes in his black note pad,
and without looking up says, “Suicide.”
I move a T.V. tray to begin the
removal. The officer nods toward
the red beans and rice still emanating
ghostly steam: “Almost forgot it’s Monday.”