Ray knew he was supposed to leave it in a drawer somewhere, or neatly packed away in a box. It was meant as a memorial not a consumable. But Ray was never concerned with convention.
Hazel’s flag draped the
east outer wall of Ray’s garage for almost 35 years, until Ray himself
had passed in his 71st year. By then it was little more than a tattered,
faded rag, and though it was technically illegal to allow the stars and
bars to be displayed in such a degenerated fashion, no one had even
mentioned it to its owner, not even the local commandant of the VFW.
funeral home would have nothing to do with it, so I was forced to do my
business at his open coffin following the church service. None of the
ten people in attendance minded when I set the shard atop his sunken
chest, nor did they squawk when I slipped into his fingers the last
photo taken of his darling mate, killed in action while ferrying one
final corsair to the west coast only days before the war in the Pacific
ground to a halt.