222 - flap
eavy gray clouds hung over Rexell's Funeral Parlor, pregnant with rain but unable to give birth. Their ominous presence caused the throng of waiting reporters and photographers to throw the occasional nervous glance skyward. For the moment, Mother Nature remained on their side.
At long last, the procession of black automobiles appeared at the end of the block and slowly made their way to the funeral home. The waiting men shuffled around in anticipation. They readied their equipment, preparing for the scoop each hoped to score.
The procession was headed by a hearse, which parked itself directly in front of the funeral home's doorway. The waiting press did not know exactly which car she would be in, but as the vehicles drew near they could guess. The third car in line was particularly ostentatious when compared to the others. It drew to a stop, and the men moved as a herd towards it.
The igniting flash bulbs and sudden shouts of questions as the rear door swung open gave proof that this car was hers. "Sara! Sara!" came the calls of both the reporters who wanted to interview her and the photographers who wanted her to look in their direction.
Sara was well-used to such tactics by now and was adept at tuning them out. She emerged from her automobile with all of the grace that she was known for. Clad in a black dress that was conservative in comparison to what she usually wore, she remained stunning. Her fiery tuft of red hair was visible even under the mourning veil.
She gave a subdued grin to the crowd, appropriate for a sombre gathering. The popping flashes seemed to triple at that instant. She then began to push forward toward the entrance of the funeral home. The press parted respectfully to allow her to pass, but they kept up their incessant activity.
"Come on, come on, guys. Please. It's my father's funeral," Sara finally said. Her words were not intended to convey annoyance, as Sara had always tried hard to keep the press on her side.
Her attempt to appeal to their sense of decency did little to quiet them. One reporter got in close. "We know it's a difficult time. But just a few words, please, and then we will leave you in peace," he offered.
Sara paused on the top step in the entryway to Rexell's Funeral Parlor. She turned back to face the crowd and the camera lenses. Behind them, she saw her other family members making their way from their own cars. They moved slowly, waiting for the commotion to pass.
"A few words about?" she asked.
"Your father. Who he was and what your relationship with him was like," another reporter suggested.
Sara ruminated over memories running around in her mind. Carefully, she chose the words she wanted to share, knowing that by tomorrow evening they would be in every newspaper across America.
"My father was the kind of man who appeared as if he would achieve so much greatness in his life. He had all the potential one needs: intelligence, charisma, creativity, and strength. All, save for one: luck. Misfortune always seemed to follow him. He never was able to flourish."
"Nevertheless, like many immigrants to this land, he worked hard to provide for his family, always believing in and supporting me. I hope I have done him proud," she concluded, her voice trembling perfectly.
"Now, if you'll excuse me," Sara said, turning her back on the press. She entered the funeral home, letting the sound outside fade away.