The Celebrant

A story by Warren Paul Glover

Image: The Lone Cyprus by Allan Barnes

The man with the sombre bearing and benign face entered the pub. He spotted a free table and strode towards it, dropping his coat over the chair before heading to the bar. He returned with a pint of brown beer, sat down, and fished a notebook and pen from his satchel. He paused, waiting for his pint to settle, then took a sip. He savoured the taste with his eyes shut, then picked up his pen — a blue one, chosen deliberately over black — and started to write.

     ‘I’ve had many a cause for celebration in my life. As a celebrant it’s compulsory, comes with the job description. I’ve presided over hundreds of marriages, one or two of which are still going strong, and I’ve celebrated births at christenings and deaths at funerals; or rather, I’ve celebrated the lives of individuals no longer with us. And soon, as my dear doctor has just told me, I’ll be one of them. Which is why I’m writing this.’

     The man took a sip of beer and considered. He began writing again.

     ‘I was married, but my wife left me for the butcher. I don’t know which I miss the most, her or those juicy steaks she used to bring home. I’ve been vegetarian ever since. I have no children, and a lot of my friends here don’t really know me from the old days, so if I left it to any of you to write my eulogy, you’d miss bits out — important bits — and now that it’s time, I feel I want to put all of my life on record, not just the bits and pieces that people who know me here are aware of. I emigrated to the other side of the world for a reason. And that reason was a security van robbery in 1986. We never got caught, and to this day it remains an unsolved case. Lucky for me and…ah, I’d better not say, he might still be alive. But that little gem of a job paid for my new life and my new identity, and it’s kept me in significant comfort ever since. Not that I’m advocating a life of crime, don’t get me wrong. I was just lucky, and I wouldn’t want to glamorise or glorify what I did. Someone, a writer I married, said to me that you’ve got to celebrate all your little wins. Well, I guess now’s the time to celebrate that I didn’t get caught and was able to reinvent myself and live well. I know I’ve brought joy and comfort to many people, including many here today. But in truth, I’ve always felt aloof from the joy I brought others and their celebrations. Guilt, I guess.’

     The man put his pen down and reached for his glass. He raised it to his face and said, ‘Cheers’ to no one in particular.

This work was featured in issue #10

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