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by Jack Swenson

It was Floyd's idea to bury Doc. Floyd was drunk, and he wasn't the only one. It was Friday night, and as usual, nobody had a date. Except Doc. He was going out. We asked for details, but he was vague. He left before dinner. Farley, Ray, Floyd, and I drank beer before and after dinner. I don't know where Tank was. Tank was working at a brewery that summer, and he got five cases of seconds each week for two bucks a case. There was nothing wrong with the beer. The labels were scrunched, or the bottles were too full or not full enough.

Doc came back about midnight. Floyd and Ray were in bed. Farley was reading, and I was lying on the couch dozing. I had a nice buzz on. Doc stood in the hallway wavering.  He had a big grin on his face. He started singing. Farley and I helped him up the stairs and sat him down on his bed. Doc was mumbling. "What's he saying?" Farley asked. I leaned closer and listened. "He's reciting a poem by Wilfred Owen," I said.

Farley and I went downstairs. I got two beers out of the refrigerator. Then we heard a ruckus upstairs. Floyd was standing at the top of the stairs in his skivvies. We couldn't tell whether he was laughing or crying. He looked like he was in pain. "Doc's dead," Floyd said. "We have to bury him or he'll stink!" Floyd seemed to think that it was terribly funny. 

Ray came out of his room, surveyed the scene, shook his head, and went back to bed. The rest of us helped Floyd bury Doc. We piled all of his dirty clothes on top of him.  Then we got our own laundry and added it to the pile. When we got done, he was completely covered with socks, shirts, and underwear. All you could see were his arms and legs sticking out of a mound of dirty clothes.

In the morning, I was sitting in the living room reading the newspaper when Doc came downstairs. He wandered into the kitchen, came back with a cup of coffee, and sat down. He sat there not saying anything, slowly making a little circle in his coffee with a spoon. "Well," I said. "Did you have a good time last night?" Doc looked around like he wasn't sure. "Oh, tolerable," he said. I asked him whom he had a date with. He frowned. Her name would come to him in a minute, he said.