Harry sure looked real dead. His face looked rather pasty with make-up that was too heavy. Bob had consented to hold the funeral service at his beachfront home because Harry had asked him to do that many months ago. This afternoon the hearse had arrived bearing the metal coffin. Flowers had started arriving at Bob's house shortly after nine in the morning. Caterers had brought the sandwich trays and other food in shortly after 5 pm. Now it was 7 pm and Bob's house was packed with friends and relatives. Of course everyone had a drink in his or her hand because Harry had specified that he wanted a "real Irish wake". And so it was. Glen Miller music played in the background, there were animated conversations everywhere and people took turns paying their last respects --- with a drink in hand. There was laughter, of course, because that's the way Harry Douglas would've wanted it. Harry had been a very funny guy who loved to party and everyone present knew that.
Finally, at exactly 7:30 pm, "Preacher Paul", dressed in black with his clerical collar, asked for quiet as he stood behind the small lectern. The crowd suddenly became quiet. Preacher Paul began to speak. "We are all here not to mourn the death of our friend Harry --- but to celebrate his life. Harry was "one of a kind". Well --- maybe there were five or six of that kind --- but Harry was sure one of them. I knew Harry for over forty years --- and I know that some of you knew him even longer --- but I think we can all agree that Harry brought fun and joy to all who knew him. He was a good husband and a great father. He excelled in his profession. He was a friend you could count on. And he will be greatly missed by all of us. Now if anyone would like to say a few words, now is the time."
Bob stepped forward. "Harry was my best friend as you all know", Bob began. "We went all through school together and worked together for many years. His death is a great loss to me but I will never forget the many laughs we shared over the years. I remember the gags he would pull, the jokes he would tell and the many great parties he organized: The Knights of the Round Table Party --- The Pilgrims & Indians Party --- The Lost in Space Party --- and so many more. They were classics!" With that the crowd nodded in agreement. "Harry just kept the fun going. That's all I have to say."
Slats then stepped forward --- drink in hand --- and began thus. "I certainly agree with everything that's been said but I would just like to add a couple remembrances. I remember the time when Harry organized a St Patty's party and put green die in the beer and green dye in the punch. It didn't affect the taste of the booze --- but everybody's mouth and tongue turned bright green --- and stayed that way for three days! We all had to go to work and explain why we had green mouths! Another time Harry organized a Bachelor Party for Johnny and we all chipped in for a stripper who was going to pop out of this big cardboard cake. But when the time came --- out popped an 80 year old lady in the nude --- who had more wrinkles that a prune factory. I mean we laughed our asses off. Excuse me, Preacher Paul." With that Slats resumed his seat.
Next it was Betty's turn and all eyes turned towards her as she rose and began to speak. "Harry was like a brother to me --- a very crazy brother --- but a brother nevertheless. I remember the time we invited Harry and Joan to a formal dinner party that was 'black tie, optional'. All the guys wore black tuxes and the gals wore evening gowns. Harry showed up with a black tie --- but the rest of his clothes were apparently 'optional' --- because the only other thing on his body was a jock strap! He spent the entire evening dressed like that and only put a coat on when he left. I will miss Harry very much because he was the brother I never had."
Fifteen or sixteen other people got up to speak and each one had tales to tell about Harry. Some had already had a little too much to drink and that helped to make their "speech" even funnier! And while the speakers spoke some people began to eat the little sandwiches and the other food. The bartender kept quite busy mixing drinks. The speeches had been going on for almost an hour now. A few people had started to dance to the recorded music in the next room, the den, and the band had started to set up in that same room. This was going to be one hell of an Irish wake! Just the way Harry would've wanted it!
I remembered all kinds of stuff about Harry, myself. I remembered the time four of us went duck hunting --- and Harry showed up dressed as a goddamn duck! Or the time Harry and I were dressed up like monsters and were driving to the Monster Party he had organized in my Buick Convertible. When we stopped at this stoplight where a number of girls were waiting to cross the street --- Harry jumped up on the hood of my car --- threw his arms in the air --- let out a monster scream --- and scared the shit out of those girls! I mean Harry was a trip!
As I pondered these thoughts and others, I noticed that the recorded music had stopped. And as I looked around, the people who had been dancing in the den were now returning to the living room. It suddenly became fairly quiet as Bob, our host, returned to the lectern. He gazed over the crowd before beginning to speak. He then said, "Most of you have spoken eloquently --- some of you have spoken a little sloppily --- but I know that all of you have spoken from the heart. We have all suffered a great loss this week and that is why we are all here tonight. So it is now time to hear from the guest of honor, himself --- our friend and nutcake --- Harry Douglas!" And with that, Harry sat up in his casket --- a huge grin on his pasty face.
No one was the least bit surprised, of course, because this was just another one of Harry's great theme parties. Yes, we had all been invited to "Harry's Funeral Party". Everyone had been asked to prepare a short speech and to dress appropriately. A number of people had sent flowers without being asked. A number of the cards on the flowers were quite funny. One of the flower arrangements spelled out "Harry is a Sicko". After the applause died down Harry began to speak. "My friends, I deeply appreciate all the kind words that you put forth tonight. Of course this is just another excuse to get together for a great party with great people --- but I truly hope that when my time 'really comes' you will all be on hand to say such nice things about me."
At that point, Slats shouted out, "Not a chance Harry, you crazy son of a bitch! Not a friggin' chance!" Everyone laughed. Harry climbed out of the coffin in his Navy blue suit. The band started to play in the den. People headed into the den to dance. "Paul the Preacher" took off his fake collar. And everyone knew this was going to be one hell of a party!