Templeton approached Terry and took off his hat to show his respect. “I am so sorry for your loss, Terry. Max was a good man, always worked hard for the people of this town. He will be missed by us all.” Terry looked up at him with disdain but nodded, hoping he would walk away.
Ben saw the scene and rushed to her side. “I don’t believe it’s a good idea for you to be here.” He looked at Gloria standing at his side. “It would be better for all of us if you both left.”
Gloria replied, “Why, Ben. Max and I got along famously. It would be quite rude of me to leave the celebration of his life, and if I stay, he stays.” She winked at Templeton and took his hand. “Come on, darlin’. I could use a drink.” They left Terry and Ben, and headed for the bar table.
Ben put his hand on Terry’s shoulder, “Are you alright? I’m sorry about this, Terry.”
“I don’t want any fights today. Keep an eye on those two but if there’s a problem, take care of it discreetly, hear me?”
“Got it, Terry. Consider it done. If you’ll excuse me, I need to talk to Katie.” His eye had caught sight of her during the episode with Gloria. He hadn’t spoken to her since the night at Mori’s house, and it was killing him inside.
She saw him coming and turned to find Mori. “Not so fast. You owe me some time, Katie.” She stopped and waited for Ben to say something when they heard a commotion near the band. Ben turned and couldn’t believe his eyes.
Mickey had Terry dancing to an upbeat jazz tune. Ben stared in disbelief. The angel could dance, really dance. He was handling Terry with great strength and turning her in ways that made her look like a professional. She laughed each time he twirled her. It was the first time Ben had seen her look happy since the death of her husband. When the dance was over, he bowed and thanked her before wandering off to find some iced tea.
“Mickey, wait up.” Ben had almost caught up with him when he saw another lady ask him to dance. Away he went, again showing off his great skill. Ben sat on a bench to watch him finish the dance, only to have another lady drag him out to the dirt dance floor. He was unbelievable. One of the oldest men, or angels there, and every woman, young and old wanted to dance with him. It was a sight to watch him, and it wasn’t until several minutes later when he realized that Katie had gotten away from him.
The dancers increased in numbers as nightfall came. The food and beer had put people in the celebrating mood, and Ben felt that they were giving Max a good sendoff.
It was nearly dark when the band took a break. The sax player winked at Terry and pulled a bottle of fine whiskey out of his backpack before yelling to the crowd to pay attention to him. “I’ve got a couple more of these bottles laid away for this next toast. I’m going to say some words to my friend, Max, and take a swig of this fine brew. Then, I’m going to hand it to the fella’ next to me to do the same. You understand the gig?” He looked up into the heavens and said his private words to Max, tipped the bottle, and let some liquid flow into his mouth.
The bottle was passed throughout the crowd, with each taster saying intimate words to Max. They finished all three bottles and the band started up again.
It was past eleven when the party started to break up. The leftover food was taken to the cars, Jimmy had some boys load the tables and chairs in his truck, and everyone did their part to pick up until Harold Park was back to her natural beauty. It was a party that Max would have been proud of, and Ben found himself thinking that when his day came, he hoped that his friends would celebrate in exactly the same way.
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