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George’s Final Journey



George blew into town along the I-5 from the ferry dock north of Seattle. He accompanied family members when they arrived to celebrate his passing. But nobody liked George’s favorite western songs. Not even his wife, Gail.

He died at sixty nine. He’d been a Navy man. So Gail decided to spread his ashes into Puget Sound from a ferry.

“We try to maintain a respectful tone on these occasions,” the ferry captain said. “We’ll halt the ferry five minutes from the dock and then blow a claxon three times. You have five minutes to spread the ashes and throw flowers. My condolences.” He looked into Gail’s eyes and smiled. Gail thought him very kind and business-like as he gazed at her in her black pant suit and dark blouse. And he was very handsome in his summer whites.

George didn’t like Amazing Grace, but Gail started a song they could sing during the ash distribution. The others followed:

“I have tears in my ears ‘cause I laid on my back in the sack crying over you.” Four times of that one line and most of George’s ashes descended into Davey Jones’s locker near a Cadillac Esplinade and a Mercedes convertible. A nice touch, Gail thought.

The ferry shifted and a wind gust soon caused ashes to mix with tears and clothes. George was carried on the wind more than into the water. He appeared on the faces of his family and also onto the hood and bumpers of the first and second rows of cars. Some of the ash had migrated to the upper deck. The more Gail tried, the less she controlled the flow of ash, first, into her hair, and then on to her linen blouse and pants.

“Help!” she cried while wiping ashes from her lips and eyes. “George didn’t want it his way, dammit.”

The ferry roared to life amid honks and lights, and applause and hoots; many wiped George from their windshields and bumpers. All were amazed at his grit. Gail turned and cried, “My George was a good man. Help him on his final journey.”

This story comes from James Stark. James Stark lives and writes in the Pacific Northwest. He is retired from teaching and spends a good deal of time with his stories' characters as they and he work through their life's conflicts. He has published two short story collections and is preparing a third for publication. A novel is also in the works. Check out his website here >>
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