Victoria Garza’s POV
I spend the first thirty minutes of my brother’s wake crafting the perfect Yelp review for Edison Mortuary. I need it to encapsulate just how badly they fucked everything up. Ideally, my review will put them out of business. If it doesn’t go that far, I’ll settle for the satisfaction of knowing that I scared off at least a couple grieving families. You know, the types of people who don’t want to see their loved one wearing foundation ten shades lighter from their natural skin color.
The geniuses at Edison Mortuary dyed my brother’s hair. A week ago, he was blonde and alive. Today, he’s a redhead. A dead redhead. As if getting the skin and hair color wrong wasn’t enough, I’m fairly certain the Edisons went ahead and bought out the florist’s clearance rack. Every flower in the room is wilting. So many petals have fallen to the floor that there’s now a dedicated broom attendant waiting patiently in the corner, ready to strike in case another plant drops as dead as my brother.
“It smells like dead flowers in here,” I mutter to Clayton.
“The white ones are nice,” he comments stiffly.
I can’t deal with his false positivity today, so I inform him that I’m going to say hello to my grandfather. It’s a low blow. Gramps doesn’t like Clayton. At the moment, neither do I.
“Your brother was a great young man,” Gramps says. He’s one of those guys who refuses show the slightest bit of emotion, but I smell the liquor on his breath, and I know that this is hitting him as hard as the rest of us. How could it not? No grandparent should ever have to bury their grandchild.
“Yeah, he was,” I reply before we’re interrupted by a chorus of “I’m sorry for your loss” and a parade of pitiful expressions led by Aunt Kendra.
I clasp my cousins’ sweaty hands and thank them for coming. I don’t even smack Uncle Jacob when he tells me that his beloved nephew is in a better place. I just want to get back to my conversation with Gramps. He’s the only person I want to talk to today and maybe for the foreseeable future.
Gramps and I are on the same page. We’re the only ones on this page, actually. Clayton maintains that we’re in denial. Dad is too hopped up on pills to think critically about anything. Mom blames herself and alternates between hysteria and anger. Faith believes she’s the one at fault, and I’m pretty sure she scored a prescription of the same stuff my father is on, based on the way she’s wobbling around. My extended family just keeps repeating that they never saw it coming and that he’s the last person they would have expected.
But Gramps understands. He doesn’t believe the police or the medical examiner either. He knows as well as I do that the hands that forced the pills down my brother’s throat were not his own.