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Urning Potential 

We are talking of final things, my friends and me. Except for Edgar, who keeps furiously chalking his cue and saying, "Are we gonna talk here or play some pool?"

"Edgar thinks you need a special license from Governor Foster to do two whole things at once. He must have one of them attention deficit disorders," decides Frankie Speed. "Six ball, side pocket ... Now what was I talking about?"

We are all talking about the guy in Georgia who was supposed to be cremating all these bodies, only he said the oven broke so he dumped the bodies out back, all 300.

"Three hundred!" whistles Steve. "That oven musta been broke for years."

"I hear the guy just put some of them orange traffic cones around the place," says Boo, tilting his barstool perilously perpendicular to the wall. "When they do that here, everyone knows that whatever's inside them cones ain't gettin' fixed for three years."

"I remember the first time I went to a funeral home," says Steve. "I was an altar boy carryin' the cross, and when I walked into the front parlor at P.J. McMahon's for a moment there was nothin', just people talkin' low and having a nice time. Then the next of kin spotted me, and they musta realized the moment had come, 'cuz they all started wailing like Mariah Carey. And I'm freaked and I'm wonderin' if somehow I had turned the place into a room fulla drunken Indians."

"If the governor has his way, the Indians are gonna have casinos on every lot that ain't got a Burger King on it," notes Boo. "You better not pick on no Indians."

"He's a multiple racist," says Frankie Speed. "He also don't like no Latvians."

"Has anybody here ever seen a game of pool played?" whines Edgar.

"Three ball, corner pocket," says Boo. "Man, I went to that same funeral home one time. The guest of honor is this 96-year-old woman layin' there and just as they about to close the coffin, her daughter, who is 75 if she's an hour, throws herself on the coffin like she's Meryl Streep and starts screamin', 'Mama! If only we'd had more time!' And I'm sayin' to myself, 'Exactly how much more time was you countin' on?'"

It is my turn to shoot, so I step up and miss a straight-in shot on the nine. "The guy in Georgia, what was he giving to the families when they came to get their ashes?" I ask.

"I hear it was dry cement," says Steve. "But he coulda come here for the ashtrays. I think they only get emptied in months that end in 'r.'"

"Remember Billy?" remembers Frankie. "Funny guy. Well, when he died, his third wife had him barbecued, and they put his ashes in a little urn. She and the kids usta dress up that little urn, put Billy's old bow tie on it, and take it with 'em to make groceries. I seen 'em in Dorignac's, and she wanted me to talk to the little urn. In front of all kindsa people at the cheese counter."

"Your shot, Frankie," growls Edgar.

"Why the hell did Billy get married three times?" asks Steve. "He definitely was not qualified."

"He once told me that his daddy married three times, and his mama married three times," I say. "He said he thought that was the number allowed."

"Where's Bobby?" Edgar asks suddenly. "Bobby likes to shoot pool. I wish Bobby had come."

"He's busy today spray-painting his sofa," Steve informs us. "Popsicle pink, I believe. Say, how you guys gonna go? After you dead?"

"Eleven ball, cross corner," says Boo. "Well, I dunno. But you know my brother Jack, how nuts he is about LSU? He says he is checking into this. He says he would like his body to be fed to Mike the Tiger and that way he could end up as tiger crap."

"I'd rather be the fan of UC Irvine," says Steve. "Their nickname is the Anteaters, and their school chant is, 'We suck, we suck ... .' Maybe they'd leave my body on an antpile."

"Well, I ain't payin' no 20K for no bronze coffin with a cell phone in it," says Frankie Speed. "When I was little, I went with my Uncle Lester to pick out a coffin for my grandma. And Lester starts crying and the funeral director, he's cryin' right alongside. And then Lester puts his hand on a medium-priced coffin and the funeral director stops cryin' and says to Lester, 'I knew your mama. She didn't want that one. She wanted this one!' Which of course is the deluxe Brougham model."

"I knew this kid was going to Delgado, takin' Mortuary Art," says Steve. "Nice kid, but he told me when he met girls at first he told 'em he was a claims adjuster."

"That's even worse," says Boo. "Well, this cremation trend will be the death of the funeral industry. Soon all you'll need is one of them 55-gallon drums in the backyard. And a can of Sterno."

"Someone oughta embalm this table," says Edgar. "'Cuz this game is dead."

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