By Christopher Zoukis
It is summer and the sun is shining. Off to the east rugged mountain peaks serrate against a soft blue sky. A breeze strong enough to be annoying shoves steadily at plants, animals and human beings. On the plus side, though, the air is fresh and tastes of salt and smells of pine.
The tombstone is made of white granite with gray and black flecks in it. Oblong in shape, it stands four feet tall. On the top sits a gray cast iron bust, wearing an armless coat and tie. A handlebar moustache banners under a flaring nose, and the iron head has no hair. I wonder if he went bald, or shaved his head? A photograph of him at age thirty shows a full head of hair, wire rim glasses and a solid, handsome face.
His ashes are in a small wooden box, and the box sits encased within the cast iron bust. The box is decorated with mythological beasts, one being a unicorn.
Nearby sits his manor house, which, when he first bought it, was near to falling down from neglect. He had it restored and redecorated.
From good breeding stock, he remained healthy until his death at age ninety-two. They say, though, that he had “permanently impaired mental capabilities” in his last years. But it was pure speculation. No, it was more than that – it was judgment palmed off as fact. It was what they wished were true. And they hoped that by saying it, it would come true. For they were embarrassed by him, even scandalized by him.