Chapter 1: Book
Asia is in the car driving with her husband and two children and the same de ja vu scene is playing itself out again. The Mark of the Beast story is spinning around inside Asia’s head. She isn’t sure why it’s happening this time. She knows she often thinks of the story when she’s stressed out, or scared, or even unhappy and sad. And she knows it isn’t good for her to be thinking about it, not at this particular time. They are on their way to a funeral. They reach the funeral home in New Jersey, just as the wake is beginning. The ride took fifty- three minutes because Asia and her family have traveled from Pennsylvania. The funeral home is an extremely large structure. It’s a huge black marble building with sparkling glass and shiny metal chrome. It is oval shaped and has windows that reach from the cathedral ceilings to the floors. The shiny metal chrome is strategically placed in between each huge window to give the effect of an all glass structure. Everything seems to be gleaming brightly and Asia thinks this is weird. Funeral homes are supposed to be dark and dreary. At least most of the ones she’s been to. If not dreary, then at least under toned and subdued. This building looks like weddings should be held in it, not funerals. Asia’s husband Troy even notices it for he remarks, “This is a damn nice funeral home! As a matter of fact, it doesn’t look like a funeral home to me. It looks like a party hall or some kind of club!” He says this as he maneuvers the car around an oval drive which seems to lead them into a spacious, newly black tarred parking area. Junior and Beary (who just woke up as they were pulling into the funeral home) watch and stare quietly. Junior finally speaks up asking, “who died in your family dad?” Asia answers the question for him saying, “Your dad’s cousin Hoagy died in a car accident, Junior.” “Is that what happened dad?”, Asks Junior curiously addressing his dad again. And this time Troy answers, “That’s not true”. Pausing “Well yes he was in an accident, but he died from something else.” “Hoagy didn’t die from the accident?” Asks Asia as she turns to look directly at her husband. He just stares straight ahead at first, then turns his head searching for a parking space. Asia points her finger to the left and says, “there’s a space right there”. Troy’s eyes and head look in the direction of Asia’s pointed finger and spots the space. He then turns their new silver-blue 960 Volvo into the available space before answering his wife’s question. “Hoagy had a blood disease for a very long time”. “I know that Troy, but he lived with it and they said it was under control until the car accident. So, I thought the car accident worsened his condition killing him”, she says as she unclicks her seat belt and tells the boys to get out of the car.” Look Babe, let’s not discuss this now. Let’s talk about it later.” “Okay”, she says as she watches her husband step out of the car.
He is a handsomely six-feet two inches tall muscularly built man. His skin is a nice medium brown color thinks Asia as she watches her husband straighten his clothes by smoothing down his suit jacket. He is a meticulously neat freak. Everything has to be perfect when it comes to looks. Body, clothing and house. Your body has to look good, your clothing has to be neat, and your house has to be clean. Oh yeah, your car should be clean too. These things can be good attributes, thinks Asia, until they become annoyingly obsessive. And sometimes Troy is obsessive when it comes to these things. She’s still thinking about this as she steps out of the car and begins to straighten out her own clothes. Both she and Troy are wearing black. He’s wearing a crisply, starched
ironed shirt and creased slacks. His black leather shoes are gleaming and this makes her smile to herself because Troy’s shoes seem to match the funeral home’s décor. She’s wearing a trench coat-like London Fog black dress that fits her curves nicely. Her black patent leather pumps are also gleaming making her smile even more and she thinks why am I smiling? I’m at a funeral. I’m not supposed to be smiling. Troy and the boys look at her and her smile fades away. Troy is straightening up the boy’s clothes and brushing their hair with a small hand brush. These are the times that she’s glad that her husband is a neat freak. The boys are wearing the same outfit. They both have on brown dress slacks, black shirts and black hush puppy shoes.
Troy spots another one of his cousins as they all walk toward the funeral home. Asia finally speaks up about Troy’s remarks on the funeral home. “Even though we’re dressed for and attending a funeral, I feel like I’m going to a family dinner dance instead.” “I know, this place is damn nice!”, says Troy as they reach his cousin and their family. Troy gives his cousin a big bear hug as his cousin reciprocates one back. He then makes his way towards other family members and does the same thing. Asia then hugs his cousin and family as the boys mimic their mom and dad. These greetings continue as everyone makes their way towards the entrance to the doorway and finally enter the funeral home. The inside is just as elaborate as the outside with gleaming silver and glass all over. The family makes their way to their seats located in the front of the hall. Then the rest of the guests take their seats behind the family. As the funeral begins, Asia’s mind begins to wander back to the Mark of the Beast story and a chill runs up her spine and the hairs on her neck and arms stand up again.