Theodore Jerome Cohen is the Readers’ Choice in this week’s Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Challenge. The winning entry is decided by the popular vote and rewarded with a special feature here today. (In case of a tie, the writer who submitted an entry first is the winner per our rules.) Without further ado, here’s the winning story:
by Theodore Jerome Cohen
It was unlike anything he’d seen: at least 100 cars and motorcycles—mostly big Harley-Davidson touring models—lined up behind the national cemetery’s administration building.
Must be some general’s funeral this morning, he mused as he drove slowly to his wife’s grave site. This was a road he sadly traced every Thursday or Friday morning since late the previous spring, when the love of his life passed to her eternal reward. Because of his Army service, she was entitled to be buried in one of the more than 150 national cemeteries scattered across the United States, there to wait and eventually be rejoined with him for eternity.
On the seat beside him was a dozen peach-colored roses, her favorite. They weren’t always available, but today, the local supermarket had received their shipment of fresh flowers from South America early. He was fortunate to find exactly what she would have wanted.
Across from her grave was Pavilion Number 2, where the cemetery’s seven-person, rifle-bearing Honor Guard and bugler stood waiting for the funeral procession. How are they ever going to accommodate all those cars and motorcycles? he thought as he parked near his wife’s grave, stepped out, and walked to her stone.
A custodian, standing on the curb, watched the long, ear-shattering, funeral procession approach.
“That’s musta been some important man,” he called to the custodian.
“Nope,” replied the man. “We’re burying nine men and one woman this morning, none of whom had any known next of kin.”