As Kathleen turned back to view the casket, the wind whipped her dark hair loose from the bun at the nape of her neck, giving her a slightly disheveled appearance. Rose reached up to her daughter and gently, lovingly tucked the unruly hair behind Kathleen’s ear.
“There,” the older woman said. “You need to appear the best you can today.” The daughter did not respond, but the vacant look in her dark brown eyes prompted Rose to heave a heavy sigh.
Kathleen’s cousin, Charley, came up beside her and put his arm around her shoulder. A thin, angular man, Charley was only a year older than Kathleen, but his gray hair and full, bushy beard made him appear older than 50.
She leaned into him, feeling sickened by the cross of loathing she carried for her husband. She eyed the gleaming bronze coffin with unease. Its ornamentation was overdone, just as was everything Scott owned. Simplicity was not a trait of Scott Buckley, even in death. She realized that inside the coffin lay the remains of the man she had been married to for years, his body smashed beyond recognition, his immortal soul released into God’s care, and she was glad for it, glad that she no longer had to feel the pain of his physical presence.
Kathleen left Scott six months before his death because of his addictions. He loved his fine whiskey and his assorted women, most of them lonely seekers who came to Sedona looking for spiritual enlightenment from high-priced New Age gurus.
Scott knew where to find the women, often corralled at some hotel bar murmuring about the spiritual wonders they had experienced in Sedona that day and charmed them easily into his finely-spun web of lies and deceit. A superb dinner at one of Sedona’s high-priced restaurants, a bit of close dancing, and the lonesome women fell easily into bed with him hoping this would be more than just a one-night stand. And, often it was, until Scott grew tired of the New Age babble they spouted with enthusiasm, believing everything in their lives were related to the crystals they hung around their necks.
Kathleen’s Irish-Catholic stoic temperament carried her through most of her trials with Scott, his belligerent language and behavior toward her, never seen in public. But it was his last volatile attack on her that finally forced her to face the state of her empty marriage. The day was crushed into her consciousness.
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