@CRAFTBREWSNBUDS69

by Thomas Mundt

NSFW asks if there will be snacks so I ask him to take a wild guess. It’s a funeral, I remind him, so it’s probably BYO but almost certainly disrespectful. That doesn’t stop him from taking a Snickers out of the inside pocket of the linen sportcoat I lent him for the occasion. @CRAFTBREWSNBUDS69 would’ve wanted him to look good and keep his blood sugar up for the occasion, for his legacy.

The family seems normal, no visible scars or ankle monitors. Lots of Irish-looking cousins in khakis, checking their phones. Per NSFW, @CRAFTBREWSNBUDS69 was a huge White Sox fan and insists they’re tracking Chris Sale’s pitch count or adding Robin Ventura’s landscaper to their LinkedIns. I watch as the huskiest of the brood shows another a clip of a man on crutches advocating for a U.S. withdrawal from NATO and subsequent invasion of Luxembourg. “Sitting duck,” the hawk proclaims, and before losing his balance and falling face-first into a Weber grill. They proceed to lose their shit and are promptly called a pair of period panties by, presumably, an aunt, who then crosses herself.

“Community meant the world to him,” NSFW offers, the words trudging through nougat and caramel.

***

The priest who delivered the eulogy didn’t delve into his résumé as deeply as NSFW would’ve liked. @CRAFTBREWSNBUDS69 was a ride-sharing pioneer, prepared to take his act to the Chicago River once the investors and Kyrgyzstani strongmen queued up. According to NSFW, humankind is innately drawn to water, will leave no intergalactic stone unturned until we find more with which to cleanse our souls and open our pores.

“He was a still waterbirth,” NSFW explained. “Got revived by a miracle. No one felt that connection closer.”

I asked what he intended to do with the fleet of kayaks bequeathed to him by @CRAFTBREWSNBUDS69’s live-in girlfriend, Bianca, who just wanted them the hell out of her employer’s basement. She was already on thin ice with the salon, didn’t need NSFW’s bullshit during prom season. There were interested parties in Colorado, he insisted, an uncle with a skeleton key to a Mayflower facility in Fort Collins and 13 credit hours shy of a Class A Commercial Driver’s License.

“It’s an exciting time to be in the business,” he confirmed.

***

People were waiting on the cathedral steps to give @CRAFTBREWSNBUDS69’s widow the handshake where you sandwich the aggrieved’s hand between both palms. I yelled for NSFW to join me but he’d been drafted into a pickup volleyball game on the temporary court set up for Vacation Bible School. I watched him demonstrate proper overhand service form for one of the pallbearers, the emphasis on contact with the palmar surface versus the fingertips.

When it was my turn, @CRAFTBREWSNBUDS69’s widow asked if I had anything to mix with Crown Royal Regal Apple, preferably something brown and carbonated. I said I had a sleeve of Caffeine-Free Diet Dr. Pepper in my Wrangler to which she could help herself; the passenger side door doesn’t lock, I explained, so there was no need to click the button afterward. I thought I had a roll of Spree in the glove box, too, if she needed an upper.

There were bees everywhere and @CraftBrewsNBuds69’s widow hit one with one with a program from the service, knocking it to the sidewalk. It sounded like the crunch of cereal when she dug the heel of her pump into its thorax.

“What I need is to be out of this bra and into my whirlpool tub.”

***

His Followers count was 87, down from 94. It was indicative of the times, NSFW submitted, that a man’s online presence could take a hit before the man himself could find peace beneath the soil. There were apps you could run, he insisted; you could track down the Unfollowers and get to the Why? of it, the velocity with which @CRAFTBREWSNBUDS69 and his words were disposed. Sure, NSFW would have to get permission from the estate to serve as the feed’s administrator, perhaps even seek some sort of General Webmaster status with the courts, but wasn’t that owed a friend? Our Monterrey Pizza Dippers arrived, however, so the investigation was tabled indefinitely as our appetizers were served.

I suggested he stand down, recommended the high road or, if still under construction, the path of least resistance. Escalating any web conflict at this juncture would only throw sand in the gears of emotional machinery already replete with moving parts.

“I’ll roundtable it with my people.”

There was tomato basil marinara in NSFW’s goatee but I said nothing. DiMuzio’s had mirrors everywhere you looked and it would be revealed in due time.

***

Thomas Mundt is the author of the short story collection You Have Until Noon To Unlock The Secrets Of The Universe (Lady Lazarus Press). More stories and Twitter tomfoolery can be found at jonathantaylorthomasnathanmundtdds.com and @Jheri_Seinfeld, respectively.