Three Funerals and a Wedding
This President thing was really interfering with my love life.
Last night had been a shock, Mia and I had returned to our room and talked well into the night. In one way, the dream confirmed all the choices and feelings I had made. She was meant to be mine, and I was good with that. She was happy as well, over the moon at the idea she’d be able to have children with me. That had been the one thing she was hoping would not be a dealbreaker in our relationship.
We set Eve’s funeral service for Wednesday night, as Thursday afternoon was now set for Donuts. The two services couldn’t be more different; Eve’s was a simple memorial service, we had purchased an urn and Kelly had a large photo printed of her framed to put behind it. It was going to be a biker sendoff, fitting for a daughter who grew up in the Club and was a full member. We would return to the Clubhouse after it was over for a wake. Donut’s will directed a law enforcement funeral, but he had specific instructions for how he wanted the Club involved. He was going to be in full dress uniform, but was to be holding his cut in his right hand in the casket. We’d already been told it would be a closed casket, the head injuries were too much to repair. The Club was also going to be interspersed with the police, in between the Ramsey County cars and those from all other law enforcement agencies.
The third funeral Dagger was handling. We’d gotten a call from the Coroner up north, asking about funeral arrangements for Mitchell. I found out a lot about the man who had both protected and threatened my daughter. Meghan had talked to both the medical examiner and his oncologist at Bethesda Naval Hospital. It turned out he hadn’t been discharged at all, he had packed up and left the day after a brain scan showed his cancer had metastasized. It was inoperable, and he was given six months to live.
It was all to medical-talk for me, but Meghan said he had a tumor growing in his brain in the area that controlled judgement and strong feelings. His autopsy results showed he had been taking large doses of painkillers to deal with the pain. “He probably ignored it all and came here to continue with his life,” she told me. “Death was caused by the tumor damaging an artery, he bled out into his brain in seconds. There was nothing I or anyone else could have done.”
“And his behavior?”
“At some point, thinking about Eve made the pain go away and that fed his fantasy. He didn’t want to hurt her, to him she was an angel, the only thing that made things tolerable.” I sat down, thinking back to how we had treated him, and how he had behaved. “He was a good man once, he deserves to be remembered that way.”
We worked with the staff at the Fort Snelling Cemetery, and using Mitchell’s computer and phone contacts we sent the information to as many of his fellow Marines as we could find. The local Marine Corps Reserve and VFW also spread the word. Two days later, we were standing graveside as an Honor Guard of Marines fired their salute. He was a highly decorated Marine, well respected, and it showed in the turnout and the eulogies.
I drove Mia back to the Clubhouse to change for Eve’s service. The Club did a good job keeping up the act, since we all knew Eve was really safe and sound up north. She hadn’t attended school and didn’t have friends outside the Club, so the church was packed with Club members and friends from other area Clubs. All too soon, I was standing there next to her portrait. “My Eve was the jewel of my life, the daughter who made me proud of everything she did. There isn’t a person in this room her life didn’t touch, a person who wasn’t better because she came into this world.” I stopped to wipe a tear away. “I can’t believe she’s gone, I go to breakfast every morning expecting her to give me a kiss and tell me she loves me…” I stepped back, I couldn’t do any more, I fell to my knees as Mia raced forward to comfort me. Dagger led me back to my seat, and I barely listened as the others talked. Just thinking about her being gone put a knife to my heart, I didn’t have to fake the pain.
We were driven back to the clubhouse and the bar was opened. Toasts were made, and soon I was drunk off my ass. Viper helped me up to my room, and I was asleep before the door was closed.
The next morning, I had a splitting headache. Mia was gone, it was eight, she had probably gone to do breakfast on her own. There were a few aspirin and a bottle of water next to the bed, I took them both. Moving slowly to the bathroom, I pulled on some clothes and then went downstairs to the kitchen. The smell made my stomach lurch, but I kissed Mia anyway. “Sorry about last night,” I said.
“It’s fine, your reaction did more to sell her death than anything else we could do,” she said. “I made you eggs and toast, you should go sit down. You’ll need food in your belly for today.” I took the plate, kissing her as she went back to the grill, and went back out to find a table.
“He lives,” Dagger teased as I sat next to him.
“Barely. By the way, thanks for setting the bar even higher on this engagement shit.” He didn’t go to Mitchell’s service, instead he took his girlfriend Sara on a hot-air balloon ride up past Stillwater. Of course, he proposed to her with some cheesy line about how she lifts him to the heavens or something. She was sporting a big ring and a smile this morning as she talked to the other ladies, and I could see them looking at me like I was next. After Steven’s leap of faith, pressure was building on me to do something over the top for Mia.
One of the prospects put down a large glass of orange juice for me, I nodded my thanks. “We all set for today?”
“We are,” he said. I was going to deliver the eulogy for the Club, while Dagger as VP was in charge of the riders. Since Donuts was prior military, we’d contacted the Patriot Guard Riders as well as the other clubs in the Metro area. The funeral procession was going to be incredibly long just because of the law enforcement part, and we didn’t need a thousand bikes adding to it.
“I made the arrangements yesterday,” he said. “Between the Guard and the other Clubs, we have it set so a motorcycle is parked every hundred feet along the entire route. We’ve set it up so each rider has an American flag, and will be standing with their hand over their heart as he passes.” This was a great way to get involved, even with his big church as the service site, there just wasn’t room for everyone.
I choked down the toast and butter, hoping my stomach would quit rebelling soon. “The VFW and Marines are in it as well. His old Company Commander is going to speak at the funeral, and his unit members have been given priority seating at the service. He will be well represented.” I was still a little pissed about one thing, he had written into his will that the Club President had to ride in the SUV immediately behind the hearse with his family. There wasn’t much left, a younger sister and a cousin. It didn’t matter that he wrote it for Viper, it meant I had to ride in a cage for the day.
Steven and Meghan sat down, both with full plates. “Ready for today,” Doc asked.
“As soon as I lose the headache,” I said. “Are we ready for the weekend?”
“Yep, arrangements all made. The wolves will stay at our new house or in wolf form, and we’ve got enough hotel rooms for the humans.” We decided that we needed to get out of town and have a Club meeting, and the only way to get everyone together was to go up north. We told everyone the Club was taking a private ride up north this weekend to spread Eve’s ashes. No one would interfere with that.
The funeral for Deputy Nathaniel Donaldson was huge. Dignitaries including the Governor, the National Guard Commanding General, and others. At least five hundred police and sheriff cruisers, hundreds of motorcycles, and untold private citizens lined the route from the church to the National Cemetary. I was holding his sister’s hand as Mia tucked into my side, watching with pride as we drove down the route. He was buried with full military honors, a combined Law Enforcement and Military honor guard performing the salutes. His sister received the American flag, along with his estate.
I couldn’t open the kitchen for dinner, so instead we had booked a room at the Machine Shed in Lake Elmo. It worked well because they had large portions that the big guys and werewolves liked, and it was good food. We ate and drank into the night, finally knocking off around nine because we had to get up early.
I wanted to beat the heat and traffic to get up north, so we were leaving at six in the morning. I pulled Mia into my arms as we went to bed, holding her tight as the emotions of the week caught up to me. She made love to me, then we fell asleep until the alarm went off again.
I got to ride up front this time, this was the first official club ride since the new elections. Snake was to my right, Mia tucked in with her arms around him, while Shadow had decided to leave her Harley and ride with me. Everyone was gassed and ready, we were going to ride a few hours to get out of the City and stop once before and once after Duluth.
I’d talked to the guys up there, the new house had been closed on yesterday thanks to a cash offer, and they were already moving in. It was a nice place, on four hundred acres of rolling forest, with a six-bedroom four-bath rambler and a full basement. It would be tight for a while, but they had already made a run to purchase enough beds for everyone. The pole barn would be turned into a gym, and it was a fairly short run to Alan’s house.
I looked back in the mirror as we merged onto I-35E, loving the feeling of riding in formation like this. There were a half-dozen cars and SUV’s trailing us, carrying some of the wives and children who didn’t want to ride. Weather was good, in the sixties but humid. We made good time on the drive, pulling into the new property just before noon. The guys had the big grills fired up already, and soon we were eating steaks on the dozens of picnic tables they had purchased and set up. Alan and Alice had joined us, since we were planning on asking them to join the Club.
We ate and enjoyed the North Shore afternoon, putting a good dent in the tub of beers that were floating in ice. Everything was perfect, so I took Shadow’s hand and nodded to my accomplice. He moved over to the stairs going up to the back deck of the house, and we followed him, stopping at the bottom.
“IF I CAN HAVE YOUR ATTENTION,” Crash said as he clinked three beer bottles together, The Warriors style. He waited until everyone quieted down, as soon as they saw him up there with us they figured it out. “People, what we have here, is a failure to learn from the mistakes of others. How many more times are you going to force me up here to join people together in holy matrimony, knowing full well that they have been sinning with each other every night for the past year?”
“Sometimes a few times a night,” I said.
“And don’t forget mornings and nooners,” Shadow added with a laugh.
“And so, for my usual fee of a bottle of Irish Whiskey, I once again stand before you with a new set of victims.”
“I can’t wait until we find YOU a woman, Crash,” Kelly teased.
“Ain’t gonna happen, woman. Now, where were we. Oh yeah. If anyone other than me has any reason why these two kids should not bind themselves in a lifetime contract where they end up arguing over why clothes don’t make it to the hamper or the toilet seat is up again, speak now or you’re just as guilty as me.”
“Jesus, Crash, I gotta take a whiz here, hurry it up,” Tiny said.
“Fine. Do you, Dagger, take this fine-looking woman here as your Old Lady? To treat her right, keep her happy and fill her with little paring knives? To love, honor and bang her, and only her, as long as your skinny ass lives?”
“Hell yeah,” he said.
“And do you, Shadow, who can probably do far better than him if you’d play the field, do you take this guy as your Old Man? To ride him like a Harley, keep him fed and dressed, and let him rebuild his engine in your living room? To love, honor and bang only him even though he’s boring and can’t get it up after drinking?”
She just laughed. “I’ll take him,” she said.
“Then by the power vested in me by the State of Minnesota and the fourth renewal of my sketchy clergy license, I now pronounce you husband and wife. Now you may what?”
“MOLEST THE BRIDE!” The club yelled it out, then rushed forward to congratulate us. Instead of showering us with rice, they sprayed Leinenkugel’s on us as we hugged our family.
Ten minutes later, I moved my hands up her leg, pulling off the garter she’d put on under her shorts before the service. Smiling, she took it over and put if over Snake’s hand and beer as he was talking with Viper. “Don’t fuck this up, Mr. President. If you like it, put a ring on it.” She kissed his cheek and walked away as the other ladies cheered.
“Can I have my meeting now?” Snake tried to take the garter off, only for Mia to grab his hand as we all laughed.