At his sister's funeral Mac moves through the room like no one has ever seen him before: calm, assured, dignified. He meets strangers and does not hesitate to pull them close with a few plainspoken words, grief evident but in control. He is the one consulted about the many small decisions such affairs entail. He looks beyond himself in the rented suit, fee donated by Martin--whose presence is requested in the family's small reserved section.
Martin, who does not quite know how to get out of this, observes Mac closely. They sit together in the second row; in front of them is John (whom no one has seen speak) and family. The husband of the deceased remains isolated and aloof at the end of the first bench with his mother, a small shrewish woman given to audibly negative comments about each aspect of the service. She constantly pats her son, another arm around his shoulder. He appears composed, or tranquilized. His oldest child is not present.
Both caskets are closed, the larger and the smaller, and the preacher's microphone is faulty. Accordingly, little of the reassuring sentiments are heard. Everyone watches his mouth and nods.
Kelly sits in the midst somewhere with dark glasses.
Midway through the address, the door to the sanctuary opens wide. A bulging woman in a loud floral print pantsuit stands, holding it open with her foot, flooding the hall with rude bright sunlight. The preacher pauses.
A monstrous sigh comes from the woman, huge and inexhaustibly wistful, and then she is gone again. The door closes slowly. Dimness resumes.
"Momma," Mac whispers to Martin. "I knew she wouldn't be able to take this."
Martin considers everything with a rigid face. In front, John glances at his beeper as if convinced it's not working properly. His wife shushes an impatient child.
The P.A. system begins to work intermittently. The preacher enunciates the word God in a single-tone chime.
It is a curious matter for Martin. Who could be so angry at something--or someone--that she would set herself and her small child on fire?
Finally the meager service is over. And in the instant the preacher ceases, before anyone rises, Martin finds himself confronted with Mac's sudden and ill-flowing tears.