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STRAYS / David Borofka AFTER SCOT IS KILLED, Frank takes Connie, Scot's girlfriend, to the funeral, thinking it might be a way to score points. He hoses down his old mustard-colored Corolla, dumps the ashtrays, even repairs the four rips in the passenger seat. The morning of the funeral he gets a haircut, then buys a new shirt and tie in solid, dark colors. Scot had been a good friend, his best friend since grade school, but after aU, dead is dead. For her part, Connie has been acting a Uttle glazed about the whole situation. She and Scot had never been real serious, but now that Scot's dead, she's been elevated: everyone expects her to act Uke the mourning widow in weeds, and life is supposed to come to some screeching, smoking-rubber halt, and that might be even more intimidating than the fact that Scot is indeed now dead and not just off somewhere on some fool backpacking trip. Which is the sort of thing Scot could do—Uke the evening he announced that he was going to walk to Mount Hood then hitchhike back, and that he was going to accompUsh aU this in the space of twenty-four hours. Fifty mUes walking and fifty of thumbing rides. Jerry and Frank just laughed and said they'd talk to him later, Uke when he got to Sandy and tired of the whole thing. But they didn't hear anything and then there he was, puUing up to the curb in the back of some farmer's pickup truck, asleep. The farmer went to the back, woke him up, then helped him down to the ground. His boots were off and his feet were bleeding, but he'd gone to the mountain and back, and he'd done it in a day. But that doesn't mean Frank can't take Connie to the funeral. They both have to go, anyway, the Girlfriend and the Roommate. At the mortuary, the undertaker motions them to the waiting room. Connie looks right at home. She's practically been Uving here for the last three days, ever since the accident, and Frank imagines she knows every bit of the funeral business by this time; she could give guided tours of the place. Scot's parents are already there and waiting, and they're ready to pounce. "Connie," Scot's dad says, "Connie." "Frank," Scot's mom says, "dear Frank." They shake hands, they hug, they say each other's names about The Missouri Review 27 a dozen times, then they stand looking at each other and shifting their weight from one foot to the next. "Glad you could make it, kids," Sam Coldine says. He tries to make himself sound like the Good Dad, complete with barbecue apron and beers in the reefer—no matter how indifferent he is toward Connie and Frank; their respective parents are mediocre nonentities, their prospects are even less promising, they're just two strays that Scot picked up. "Wouldn't have missed it," Frank says. For that he gets a nudge in the ribs from Connie, a gesture he doesn't mind in the slightest. Scot's old man is the hale and hearty type—white shoes, white belt, and curUng gray sideburns. He's big enough that when he wears a tie there's no proof of his ever having had a neck. He has a glad hand and a booming—"ain't we having fun, yet?" voice; he looks Uke the stereotype of a used-car salesman and acts the part, when, in fact, he's the largest manufacturer of optical lenses west of the Mississippi. A success. Someone who knows. Frank has never figured things out; he once went camping with Scot and Sam at Scot's request, and whUe the three of them were drinking from a bottle of Jack Daniels, quietly getting drunk together, he could almost beUeve that he was on a level, equal, connected with Scot's assumption that the world was orchestrated for one's consumption and enjoyment. In the dayUght, however, the connection was broken, he was again just a sateUite orbiting around...


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