Chase Harrison

by Margie Shaheed

"Red, red pee in the bed
Wash yo' face wid cornbread"

She rented the limousine from Smitty, one of the regulars at the bar who owns a limousine service. Filled with mourners, the stretched Cadillac led the funeral procession to the junkyard. Trailing behind it was the dead car—freshly waxed and standing magnificently on the flat-bed of a tow truck. She named her 1976 black El Dorado convertible with white interior Black Beauty. The car was like a family member to her—it had seen her through—so when it stopped running, she thought it only proper to give it a funeral.

When folks at the bar first heard the news that Black Beauty had died and that their presence was requested at her funeral, they thought it was for a horse—a good guess at least it had been alive. Folks were disgusted to learn that Black Beauty was a car. Nobody said anything to Chase's face because they know that she is sensitive and they didn't want to hurt her feelings. It didn't stop them from talking about her though. They wondered how could anyone afford to give a car a funeral? That girl's got more money than brains. They had never heard of such foolishness before.

The mourners sat in the crowded limousine in neat rows, looking at each other cross-eyed, sucking their teeth in disbelief, and shaking their heads when she wasn't looking. They thought the whole idea was just plain stupid. It was asinine to waste all of that money on a car. Her family was needy. Why couldn't she have given the money to them? Especially her sister, with all of those kids? She could've used the money.

Although people whispered and snickered, and talked about her like a dog behind her back, they came to the funeral anyway, mainly to see if she was really that dumb. Also, she planned a repast at the bar where the food was catered by Hooper's, the Black owned Jewish-styled deli well-known for its monster-sized corned beef sandwiches. For many, free food from Hooper's on a Saturday afternoon was motivation enough to show up for the funeral. And, so they came.

At the junkyard, Chase was the first to exit the limo. Mourners were slow to unload, dragging their feet because they still couldn't believe that they were taking part in this fiasco. Chase looked sad dressed in a simple black pants suit and a big, floppy straw hat. From time to time, she removed her dark shades to wipe away the tears. Nobody else saw fit to dress up for the occasion.

When Black Beauty was finally hauled from the tow truck, Chase stood before the group to say a few parting words which she had scratched out on a legal pad. She talked directly to the car, addressing it as if it were a person, "Beauty, Ah'm gonna miss you baby. Widout you Ah don't know wat Ah'm gonna do. Me and you done seen some hard times together, but you was always there to see me through. Ah love you so much. Ah'm so sorry you had to die." That did it for everybody. They knew that this woman would go down in history as being certifiably crazy. Some of the mourners had to cover their mouths with their hands to keep from laughing at her as she spoke to the car. When she said she wanted to end the service with a group picture with the car, people scattered like roaches, hesitant to take a photograph because they were too embarrassed to let others know they had attended such a ridiculous affair.

Folks avoided eye contact with her when they got back to the bar. They had seen enough insanity for one day. They just wanted to eat and get on their way. Then someone asked Chase what will she drive next? "Now y'all know Ah don't miss a beat. Jus' take a look outside," she replied pointing her finger. Folks gathered around the window like birds in flight. To everyone's amazement, parked on the side street, was a brand new black S550 Mercedes Benz. "That's Black Beauty, Jr.," she cooed, as if she was talking about a child. While still in the huddle, one of the mourners whispered into another's ear, "Ah guess crazy bitches mus' have a short mournin' period!" They both laughed as everyone went back to eating. It had certainly been a long day.

Chase Harrison by Margie Shaheed

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