The Send Off

“Maybe now you’ll believe me when I say you were popular.” I tell him as I arrange the flowers I’ve bought. Obby’s definitely not a flowers kind of guy, but he’s not really in a position to argue. It doesn’t look like he’s had any other visitors today but it’s nice to be able to spend this time with him on my own – he’s a good listener these days. It’s a beautiful day, warm sun, birds singing – for a minute its almost like it used to be, Ob lying back on the grass with a smoke just enjoying the moment with me walking up the path to visit . He says “alright cocks” with that cheeky grin. But today its different.

“Take that day back in September when everyone got together for your big farewell. You’d always talked about the “big adventure”. Oh it was on the cards but I don’t think anyone believed you’d really go.

“It was some send-off. The plan was for everyone meet at your place and then off for a last blast on the bikes. It wasn’t too difficult to track down all the old faces, everyone wanted to be there when they heard the news. All the characters out of stories I’d heard you tell over the years were coming out of the woodwork, albeit grey haired and a far cry from the “bikers” they once were! You should have written a book with those stories.

“By the time we got to your place it was a beautiful day, perfect riding weather and already bikes had started to arrive. I remember seeing your mom that day, she looked older and smaller – she was missing you already. Your daughter came over smiling but with the look of someone barely holding it together and handed me a glass of vodka. She thought better of it and just passed me the bottle. I needed it. If this was our last drink, I was making sure it was a good one!

“Stepping through your front door, it suddenly struck me that this wouldn’t be your house again. There’d be no more lazy afternoons with Bad Company, or Thin Lizzy telling us to “Do Anything You Wanna Do”, while we put the world to rights; no more philosophical conversations about all things weird and wonderful, with everyone else listening in confusion. I wouldn’t be able to raid your fridge for the chocolate you stashed for the grandkids – bet you didn’t know I did that eh! I just wanted one last look around. Even with your awful decorating, celtic wall hangings and collection of dodgy bird ornaments, it was the most comfortable and welcoming place I knew. All around, the scent of Patchouli – your house always smelled of Patchouli oil. Its funny, I bloody hated the smell, but since you went I’ve started buying it.

“After a while I felt like I was intruding and made my way back outside to an amazing sight. Bikes, hundreds of bikes. In the road, on the pavements, grass verges – parked two and three bikes deep. There were people everywhere; suits, leathers, denims, bikers, straights, punks, goths. I’d expected a good turn out but this went far beyond what I’d imagined. Classics, sports, retros, chops and trikes – they were all there; sunlight dancing on chrome, reflecting on layer after layer of lacquered custom paint. You’d even attracted a police presence, and god knows what the neighbours thought!

“As usual you were late. 12 o’clock we expected you, and 10 past you finally rolled up. Still, it wouldn’t have been you if you’d been on time I guess! Everyone was waiting for you and as you pulled away in front, bike after bike after bike rolled behind you. There must have been close to two hundred bikes. You always said the most awesome sight in the world is a convoy of bikers, riding together. I think we did you proud.

“Riding pillion behind Terry, things quickly became a blur for me. The vodka and the reality of why we were doing this had kicked in, it was just as well no-one had bought the Absinthe this time! I could just about see you between the bikes a few hundred yards ahead. I couldn’t take my eyes off you and the words “I’ll never see you again” flashing over and over in my head, like a motorway warning sign. Hidden behind my visor, the tears came in a torrent – you broke my heart, not to mention ruining my makeup!

“I don’t think you realised how many people loved you. Even the vicar commented on the turn out. Thankfully the weather was good as they had to put seats and loudspeakers outside, it was standing room only.”

I finish putting the last flower in place, as the sun slides behind the clouds. I’ve been sitting so long that my knees crack like gunshots as I get up.

“It’s just not the same without you.” I tell him. “I miss you.” My hand lingers on the top of the headstone before I make my way back up the hill through the churchyard.

In memory of my one true friend, Obby. One of a kind and irreplaceable. He would have loved his funeral!

The Send Off

Louise Morris

Telford, United Kingdom

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