|Blogs > rad_vlad > Fly or Die|
Eventually we all arrive at a point of inevitability; the sun is getting low, a cold front is moving in, people are getting hungry, and Jack's ashes aren't going anywhere unless you take care of them. So we finally gather enough emotional fortitude and hike to the place where Jack wanted his remains to be thrown. He had a little spot in the corner of his ranch chosen because it was where he could see the deer in the early morning. He believed that the site had been a burial spot for a Cohuila Indians, and while there is absolutely no evidence for that assertion, it certainly fit the mood of the place. Me, my two cousins, my cousin's wife and my aunt walked to this spot; normally we would have gotten there pretty quickly, but three of us (myself included) were wearing sandals, which is a terrible idea when the ground is covered in cacti. Looking down to avoid the cacti added about an extra ten minutes, which meant we got to the site at about 5.
Jack had carved his own headstone out of a rock. It said simply "Jack". If I weren't so dedicated to having a nuclear blast incinerate my remains, I'd consider having a headstone that said simply "Ari". It is impossibly cool, and the fact that he did it by himself whilst he was riddled with cancer raises the coolness by a factor of 10. The headstone lay across some timber and two rifles that were stuck in the ground. My cousins began digging a whole for Jack's ashes; he wanted some of them to be thrown and the rest to be buried under his headstone. My aunt was crying softly while my cousins dug, and I was about to walk over to her when I noticed that she was standing in a huge pile of red, fire ants.
Let me emphasize that these were not normal ants that you see in a garden or crawling around your home. These were gigantor ants. Hill Country Ants. Kings of the ant world who put all other ants to shame. And here was my grieving aunt, standing in a pile of the fuckers; there were a good 20 or crawling up each leg, and she was wearing sandals, so I was certain that they were on her feet. As fast as I could I ran, grabbed her out of the ant pile and started beating the ants off of her. My cousin's wife ran over as well and started swiping at my aunt's leg, then looked down and noticed that there was still a large trail of ants that all of us were standing in, so we grabbed my aunt and ran (as carefully as we could) to an ant-free space. And for all the ants she had on her, she only had one ant bite. In fact, she was pricked by cacti more than she was bitten by ants. Nonetheless, it still makes me shudder to think what would have happened if I hadn't been there to see it.
When the cousins were done digging, they opened the box fo ashes and my aunt launched into her speech. She read a passage from the book of Job, something about suffering and the lord watching out for us; I really don't remember what she said because I was staring at the ground, paranoid that ants were surrounding us and ready to crawl up our bodies and into our brains.
Gail said Jack would have appreciated me saying something in Arabic for him. I'd spent some time teaching him the basics of the alphabet, grammar and some basic vocabulary words, in case he ever encountered some Arabs and wanted to communicate. I said a prayer as best I could, although I felt a bit disingenuous seeing as I don't believe in God. Then we took turns throwing Jacks ashes. After burying them in the ground, I convinced my cousins to give Jack a 21 gun salute. Since we didn't have that much ammo, though, we turned it into a one gun, 7 bullet salute. Hopefully Jack was satisfied with the gesture.
We carefully walked back to the ranch as the sun set in the west. The evening had become siginificantly colder and the girls took jackets before we left. As we drove away, my favorite part of day took hold, the part where the sun is just high enough above the horizon to light everything, but just low enough that reds and yellows are left out of the visible spectrum, leaving mostly blues and greens and purples. That's my favorite part of the day, in the morning and the evening, when the world is bathed in blues and greens and purples. And at the days most perfect moment, we drove away from the ranch and Jack's ashes.