Finn Conroy was not at home.Rather,he was at home,but his home no longer looked the same.Gone were the familiar surroundings that he was used to,replaced by much richly finished oak and leather.Finn looked about,confused by the changes.He had obviously been sleeping,he felt disoriented and was still somewhat in a dream-like state.He held his hands up to his face and rubbed his cheeks and eyes.
Finn was seated on a large leather couch,looking at the front door of his home.The door he was used to was gone,in it’s place was now a large French-style door with one foot square glass panes set from top to bottom,with beautiful oak holding them in place.He could see outside a large wood porch,and beyond that,a neatly cut and landscaped yard with flowers and oak trees.There were people out there,mingling and holding drinks.He shook his head to clear it.
The last thing Finn remembered was walking down River Street to meet his old high school friend,Sean Ashford,for a cup of coffee at his favorite coffee house, Dog Days. They were pet friendly there,thus the name.
Finn was aware of someone sitting to his right,watching a small television in front of them,some old British film, and gradually he became aware that it was Sean.He tried to look to his right but found he could not,no matter how hard he tried.Something was wrong here,and though he knew that,he also felt for some reason that he did belong here.
Finn looked back out the door and stared at the people in the yard.He suddenly realized they were his relatives,cousins and their spouses,aunts and uncles,all chatting and drinking and slowly moving about each other.It seemed to be a family reunion,quite a rare thing for the Conroy family,and something he could not believe had been put together without his knowing of it,especially considering that it was taking place at his own home.He still could not shake the dreamy quality of what he was experiencing and that faint notion of something being wrong that was pinging in the back of his mind.
Movement to his left caught his attention and he looked away from the spectacle in the yard to see his wife Sharon standing before him.Next to her stood his ex-wife,Muriel.This in itself was not too out of the ordinary,the two were friends and occasionally visited with each other.They were both holding glasses of what looked like wine.
“Your uncles are at the other house,” said Sharon. “You should go see them.”
Finn felt a quick flash of anger.
“What,really?,” he snapped. “Not once in my adult life have I ever gotten so much as a phone call from either of them and now they expect me to just jump up and run to them?They can come see mehere,if they’re not too busy with themselves.”
Sharon looked at him without a sign of reaction to his anger.
“You should go talk to them.” Sharon stood there looking at him for a moment and Finn noticed she had been crying.Muriel reached out and touched her arm and they turned and walked out of the front door and into the yard,mixing with Finn’s relatives.Everyone seemed to be dressed rather formally,though Finn himself was not.What was going on here,he wondered.Something is not right.
“Here comes someone,” Sean said.“Isn’t that your uncle William?”
Finn looked out the window to his left and saw his uncle William and his cousin Davis approaching the house.There was a woman with them and all three began climbing the porch stairs. They entered the doorway and Finn’s notion that something was not right was immediately confirmed. The woman was his cousin Lee,which could not be possible.Lee had been dead five years now.
Lee glided across the floor and sat on a smaller leather divan that Finn had not noticed before in the room.He looked carefully at his uncle and cousin but could not detect anything in their behavior that would indicate them thinking there was anything strange about arriving with a dead relative.Finn looked back at Lee and feeling a profound sense of sadness,rose and walked over to her.He sat down next to her and hugged her tightly,fighting back tears. Lee hugged him back.
“It’s been a long time,Lee” he managed,still fighting back the tears. Her voice was soft near his ear.
“Yes Finn,it has been a lot of years.” She pulled back slightly and looked deep into his eyes,a faint smile on her face.Finn was not afraid,feeling only a deep sadness.He kissed her softly on the cheek.
“I love you Lee,” he said. “It’s good to see you again.” She smiled at him and he arose,not knowing what else to say or do. He tried again to look at his friend Sean,but still could not look at that side of the room.He walked over to his uncle and cousin,who seemed to be discussing his cousin’s new construction business.Finn tried to ask about the business,but could not seem to break into the conversation.Finally,he stood directly before Davis and cleared his throat,feeling somewhat uncomfortable.
“Was all of this something you put together?” he asked.Davis had tried to put together a reunion last year but hadn’t been able to get anyone to commit to going to one.Davis suddenly looked at him,as if seeing him for the first time.
“Yes,” he said,looking at Finn with dead eyes.”But I told them too soon.” Finn did not know what he meant,but tried again.
“How did you get them all to show up?” he asked. Again,Davis stared at him with those flat dead eyes.
“It was a surprise,” he said. “But I told them too soon.” Finn was dumbfounded by the answer,thinking what the hell does that mean?His cousin and uncle turned and walked back out of the house,joining the other relatives.Finn looked back at Lee,but she was gone. He suddenly felt he was alone in the house,and stood at the doorway watching his relatives outside.He saw his cousin Lisanne,who was his favorite relative,and the one he was closest to.She was crying,talking to Finn’s father,and he could hear her clearly.
“What kind of world is this,where a man can’t walk down the street without getting shot down?What are the Police doing about it?”she asked. Finn’s father shook his head.
“There were no eye-witnesses,” he said. “One guy heard the shots,and a car speeding away,but he was in his back-yard and couldn’t see the street from there.”
Finn did not know what they were talking about,but clearly Lisanne was upset and his first instinct was to go to her.He started to walk out of the room ,but found he could not.No matter how hard he tried,he could not cross the threshold of the doorway.Alarmed,he turned and found he could now look into the portion of the room which he had not been able to previously. He inhaled sharply at what he saw.
In the center of the room,on a pedestal,was a long black coffin,the lid open for viewing.The realization hit him all at once.He was not in his home.He was in a funeral parlor.
Finn started slowly towards the coffin,shaking his head.Figures,he thought,feeling some amount of irritation with his family.After all,the definition of a Conroy family reunion was a funeral.The only time we all see one another, thought Finn. He wondered who had died. He slowly approached the coffin and looked down inside,biting back a scream.He was looking at himself,lying with closed eyes in unfamiliar clothing.Finn was at his own funeral.