A Year and Change

A Sailor Moon fan fiction by Thomas Sewell (oldgringo2001@yahoo.com)

Funeral Games

AS KAIDOU YOKO, Prime Minister Matsudaira's daughter predicted, Yamashita the baka was made into a great hero and given a state funeral. NHK carried it on both of its channels, and the commercial networks in Japan did not do much less.

Kaidou Goro missed that funeral, and it was noted, though not officially.

"Oh . . . Kaidou-san," said Rei, struggling to bring his face in focus. "Why are you here? How did you find me?" Rei winced, and then asked, "Did my father send you?"

Kaidou shook his head, apparently not catching the dry jest Rei had intended. "Mizuno-san works in this hospital," he said. "It was not hard to guess you would be here. Your father does not know I am here."

"I would not bet that he does not," said Rei.

"He should not know," said Kaidou. "Actually I don't know where he is."

"In Japan," said Rei, "Since Friday, but he promised to return . . . perhaps he will keep this promise. And where is Yoko your wife, Kaidou-san?"

"Also in Japan," he answered, "With her family." He reached out and took her hand.

After staring at his hand for a moment, Rei said, "How long have you been here?"

"About two hours."

"Two hours of watching me snore?" said Rei.

"Everyone snores sometimes. You are not bad."

"Baka. You are very foolish to be here, Kaidou-san." But she did not remove his hand. She began to talk about Yuuichirou. It was a long time before she came to the point where she admitted she was not sure where to take his ashes.

Being officially a Jew, Ginger Han was buried in the District before the climax of the crisis, since one of the tenets of that faith is that the dead must be laid to rest quickly. Reinterment was not a priority of her parents for the moment. They missed her funeral, carried out by a rabbi and a minyan of old men, none of whom had known her in life.

Naru had a traditional Buddhist funeral for Gurio, not because Gurio had been a particularly fervant Buddhist, but because his family expected it, and there seemed no harm. She faced a lot more pressure than she expected to move back to Japan, finally pushing her inlaws back with a promise to make a longer visit later, when matters were more settled.

Suuri Kurume had had definite opinions on nearly everything, and one of them was religion. He had been a rationalist, from a family of determined rationalists. So she had held a secular memorial service for him. Later, she had taken his ashes to a place down the coast that Usagi suggested, and scattered them on the wind, returning what was left of Kurume to nature. What his ghost thought of this, if he really was in the world of the dead as Usagi had said, Ami did not guess. But it felt like the right thing. What mattered was what he had done in his life, not where his ashes happened to be.

Mamoru hadn't been a follower of any religion in this life. In private, Usagi did the rites of the old Moon Kingdom as she best remembered them. In public, she held a secular funeral, well-attended not only by the senshi and all of Mamoro's daughters, but by a large part of the hospital staff at Highland, many people from Stanford, and many of his patients.

It was at Mamoru's funeral that they first showed up: concerned strangers--Christians. Very active Christians brimming with sympathy, and with bright-eyed enthusiasm. Not Catholics; Rei the miko had gone to a Catholic school in Japan, so Usagi and her friends were long familiar with Catholics. Naru even had cousins who were Catholics. No, these people were from some other sect.

They seemed particularly interested in Makoto.

Nagy, Horthy, Sergeiev, Beriev . . . and al Kaukji and "Baiburs" and the rest of the enemy dead were buried in unmarked graves in one of the many military areas of Nevada. They were not the first officially anonymous dead to be put there. The survivors were buried beneath a deep blanket of secrecy at several military sites while the government of the United States pondered whether to prosecute them or find other uses for them.

Magda Esterhazy, aside from cheating on her taxes a little like every good French citizen, born or naturalized, had led a blameless life which ended because she was an inconvenience to the agents who seized her niece. She got a funeral mass, of course, but was saved from the anonymity of potters field by an anonymous donor. Since she had had the good taste to be born in France, her niece was safe from deportation. For the time being, the girl known as Zita Esterhazy went to an orphanage.

Henry Uffizi was the highest-ranking United States official to die, but he had the misfortune to be among several Secret Service fatalities, so his funeral was much less well covered than that of Abel Ruthen, the only FBI casualty. Since his body layed in state in the Hoover building before the funeral, his often-said jest came true: His last exit was feet first. His funeral was attended by the now-confirmed Director of the FBI, and by His Honor, the Mayor of Washington DC, Winston Claybourne, who made the longest speech.

Urawa Ryo's funeral was the last of all the fatalities because of a cruel mistake: Makoto found the wrong body in the coffin when he was supposedly shipped back. But it seemed to have one good result: It gave Makoto more time to think about what to do. Ryo had been interested in many religions, but he had never really picked one. Mostly he followed Shinto because his parents had been fairly traditionalist, like a lot of the Northern people, and like Makoto's parents. <Maybe we feel we have to be even more Japanese,> thought Makoto as she pondered the problem. She finally decided to have a mostly secular funeral with Shinto and Hindu glosses--Zara was pretty free about switching between the Shinto devotions of her father and Makoto, and the Hindu rites of her mother.

Makoto did not expect a big affair like Mamoru's funeral. Mamoru's business had been saving lives; Ryo's had been making money for other people. She expected she would have just her friends and perhaps some of the school friends of her children. Still, she asked for an open funeral, not a private one. Ryo had been a hard man to really know, but an easy man to like. Who could say who might want to say a last goodbye to him?

As she had for Yuuichirou, she wore kimono for the rites, and this time ZoŽ, Zara and Tammy wore kimono too, though Makoto had suggested a sari for Zara at first. Another noticeable expense, even when all she had purchased were the materials and had done most of the sewing herself. Ryo's estate was tied up by a lawsuit: One of his clients was claiming Ryo had somehow mishandled his investments. Greenmail, Rei called it, a frivolous suit designed simply to get Makoto to pay to make the litigation go away. There was life insurance, several policies, but the important one was from a company that seemed to be stalling, something about a conveniently-missing payment and the policy technically lapsing during the time of Ryo's death. The others were all designed to pay for the children's education. That left just her own savings, rapidly melting away.

But some things were not to be stinted on.

It was when the old Shinto priest was performing his rites that the voice came from the back of the room.

"Come back to me, darlings! Come back to Jesus!"

Makoto turned around as quickly as she could in a formal kimono and saw the back of the room had filled up with strangers. Some of them had cameras. But she recognized two of them. She had never met them in person, but she knew who they were even before Philip buried his face in her bosom, before Tammy almost fell over backwards before ZoŽ caught her.

"Come back! Come back to Jesus!"

The faces Makoto recognized among the strangers taking up the chant were Vera and Alvin Yount's, Philip and Tammy's birth parents.

To be continued . . .

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Send comments to Thomas Sewell at oldgringo2001@yahoo.com.

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