DEBUT FLASH: 'Old John Robertson wore a stetson hat to church yesterday' by Eden Kaiser

Old John Robertson wore a stetson hat to church yesterday. His wife died last Monday, slipping on her robe in the bathroom, hitting her head and bleeding to death. John wasn’t around, obviously. When he came home there was blood all over the black and white linoleum floor and Mabel had gone cold already. Nobody knew where he was when Mabel died---not that he was supposed to be home when she took showers. The only thing he was supposed to help her with was knives. Most of the time he just kept the knives locked up and bought pre-cut food.

Mabel’s funeral was on Tuesday afternoon, the very next day. There was no family around, so no one else’s schedule needed to be consulted, and the funeral home was in a lull and was able to do a rush job. The majority opinion around town was that it turned out as good as could be expected, given the circumstances. Pastor Jim was out of town so the new Associate Pastor, Rebecca, did the service. Her eulogy was better than any Pastor Jim had ever done, we all agreed, except for maybe when he did the mayor’s funeral last year.

John Robertson, out of respect, did take off his stetson hat during yesterday’s church service, but we all noticed he put it right back on as soon as we finished the closing hymn. Everyone was getting ready to recite their condolences again, for the second time this week, and wondering how they could manage to find something else equally comforting and appropriate to say to John. “Mabel was such a beauty back in her day.” “We all loved Mabel so much, and God loved Mabel most of all.” “I’m sure Mabel is looking down on us right now.” The trick was to listen to the few people ahead of you in line so you didn’t take the same line.

But before we could begin the receiving line just outside the sanctuary doors, Old John and his stetson walked out into the blinding heat of a July Sunday at high noon, and that was the last anyone ever saw of him. But the Albertsons later would say that they swore they saw the very same stetson hat once in a crowd of men waiting to dance in an all-men’s square dancing troupe in the city.

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