Ramsay, Oscar, and Miles worked with another salesman at the juice company named Brad. Oscar tolerated his existence, mainly by ignoring him at all times. Miles hated his guts, but was generally too much of a chicken-shit to do or say anything about it. And Ramsay despised him with every fibre of his being. There were, according to Ramsay, three major things wrong with Brad. One, he boasted about his many successes in life to literally anybody who would listen, and as he sat four feet from Ramsay and his friends for eight hours a day, Ramsay was tired of hearing about it. Two, he did bizarrely aggravating things throughout the day, such as make personal phone calls regarding his gym membership three times per day for a month. And three, his name was Brad.
Brad wasn’t the only member of the sales team that Ramsay hated. He also wasn’t fond of the final fifth member Sinead either. She made most of her sales by scaring people into buying bulk quantities of juice from her. She was abrasive, aggressive, unforgiving, and generally mean. According to Miles, it was amazing they didn’t get along better because they were essentially the same person. Sometimes Ramsay disliked Miles as well.
Brad had a thing for Sinead. Ramsay knew that Brad had a thing for Sinead because he talked about it both frequently and loudly. Ramsay was unclear whether or not this was intentional. It was possible Brad didn’t realize he spoke so loud and that Sinead could probably also hear every time he talked about her. It was also possible that he was doing it on purpose so that Sinead would hear every time he talked about her. That was exactly the kind of moronic thing he would do under the misconception that it was smooth or charming, as if she would enjoy being discussed by him to literally any other man who could be bothered to listen. Ramsay was not one of those men and yet he had heard an awful lot about how Brad felt her ass looked on any given day. To summarize, Brad thought it looked good.
One week at the end of June, Ramsay and Oscar turned up to work to learn that Sinead’s mother, who had been poorly for some time, had passed away over the weekend. There was to be a funeral on Friday morning that the office staff was to attend. It wasn’t mandatory, but it was strongly recommended. Ramsay felt bad for Sinead. At the same time, he didn’t want to attend her mother’s funeral.
“I didn’t know the woman,” he pointed out to Oscar and Miles. “And now I have to sit and listen to sad people talk about her life, which I wasn’t a part of, for two hours on a Friday morning when I could be doing other things.”
“What other things?” Miles asked.
“Literally anything else,” Ramsay answered. “Which is the point.”
“At least it’s the funeral and not a visitation,” Oscar chimed in. “All we have to do is sit and passively listen instead of having to talk to Sinead about her dead mother or, God forbid, try to comfort her. And we won’t have to speak to anybody else in the family. I’m terrible at offering comfort.”
He needn’t have bothered admitting that out loud because both Ramsay and Miles already knew he was shit at providing comfort. It suited Ramsay fine, who wouldn’t want comfort from anybody for any reason, including his own mother.
“Do you think Sinead will cry?” Miles asked thoughtfully.
“Her mother has died,” Oscar pointed out shrewdly, one eyebrow raised.
“Yes, I know, but her heart is made of stone and I think there are probably vipers in this world more emotionally sensitive than she is,” Miles returned. All in all, it wasn’t an unfair statement. Ramsay had seen Sinead make grown men cry about juice before. She was truly frightening.
On Friday morning, the entire office staff headed off to Sinead’s mother’s funeral. Sinead’s mother, as it turned out, had been forty-eight years old when she’d given birth to Sinead. She and her husband, as they had learned throughout the course of a very touching, emotional speech given by Sinead’s aunt, had spent most of their life trying to conceive. They finally gave up hope on their dreams of having a child and resigned themselves to a life of travelling and corgi breeding. Minus the dogs, it didn’t seem like a bad life to Ramsay. Sinead, as her aunt put it, had been their miracle baby.
“And what an incredible disappointment her unparalleled cruelty must’ve turned out to be,” Oscar remarked to Miles and Ramsay in a low voice.
Sinead’s mother, Barbara, had been seventy-six when she passed away, which was still youngish, but not nearly as young as Ramsay had been expecting. Truthfully, he had been expecting a fifty-something woman, tragically taken too early from the world because of some terrible accident. He was having trouble mustering the appropriate amount of distress and turmoil now that he knew she had been an elderly woman with severe angina. Sinead’s father had died two years previously at the ripe age of eighty-one. Brad, on the other hand, was weeping so loudly from the pew in front of them that Ramsay was having a hard time hearing the pastor leading the service.
“Why does the funeral home receptionist keep grinning at me?” Miles asked in a hushed voice a little while later, not that it mattered how quietly he spoke; nobody would be able to hear him over the sound of Brad choking back sobs anyway. “Someone has died. There are people crying literally everywhere around her. The cold corpse of someone’s elderly mother is lying twelve feet away from her. Nothing about this environment is conducive to joy.”
“Maybe she’s just being cheery,” Oscar shrugged.
“She is fully grinning at me,” Miles protested. “Like, I’ve seen unhappier people at theme parks.”
“That’s because theme parks are horrible places,” Ramsay interjected.
“You’ll forgive me if I don’t take your word on that, grumpiest man in the world,” Miles returned dryly, rolling his eyes. Ramsay fought the urge to push him off the pew. People were already staring at them, attention drawn by the heaving sobs of Brad in the row ahead of them.
Loathe as he was to admit it, Ramsay did begin to notice the keen eye of the receptionist on them for most of the service. Every time he looked over, she was beaming in Miles’ general direction. It had gone past friendly positivity into a territory much stranger. Meanwhile, Brad continued to cry as loudly as he was humanly capable of doing, clearly in an attempt to show Sinead just how emotionally supportive he could be to her. For her part, Sinead was dabbing at her eyes with composure in the front row, showing what Ramsay considered an acceptable amount of public grief.
“When I die, I want to be laid into the ground with Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock’s ‘It Takes Two’ playing in the background,” Oscar announced out of nowhere a little while later. “Because that would be fly as fuck.”
“She’s still grinning at me!” Miles hissed desperately. He’d clearly been waiting for someone else to speak so that he could mention it again. It was bothering him. To be fair, it had begun to bother Ramsay as well. The three of them looked over to her at the same time to find that she was beckoning them. None of them moved. She continued to beckon them to her.
“What the fuck is happening?” Miles demanded, sounding panicked. “Have we done something wrong? What does she want?”
“Well, she wants us to go over there,” Oscar answered matter-of-factly.
“Do you think Sinead would be pissed if I skipped out on the funeral for a bit, though?” Miles checked.
“Definitely,” Ramsay answered immediately.
“Okay, but how pissed?” Miles returned.
“She’ll tear your arm clean off and shove the bloody end up your own asshole,” Ramsay said flatly.
“Revolting, but vividly descriptive,” Oscar commented. Miles blanched.
“Come with me,” he urged. None of them moved for a few minutes. The receptionist continued to grin at Miles and beckon them forward. Eventually, Ramsay sighed and stood up, simply because he couldn’t take it any longer. He was then faced with the task for slipping out of the room unseen, which proved more difficult than he’d considered. Everybody else was sitting quietly in their respective pews, sniffing sadly as they listened to the pastor drone on and on about heaven and the sweet relief of death. At least, that’s what Ramsay assumed he was talking about. He’d stopped paying attention a while ago.
The three of them edged around the back of the room, half-crouching as if being slightly bent over would in some way manage to hide them, when in reality, all it did was make them look weirder. Finally, they reached the receptionist, who was still grinning, and she lead them into the hallway beyond the chapel, letting the door shut behind them. They looked at her expectedly. She grinned back at them.
“You wanted something?” Oscar broke the silence after too much time had passed. It was uncomfortable and strange.
“Oh, I just wanted to talk to your friend,” she said brightly, gesturing to Miles. “I think he’s cute.”
Ramsay just about pushed her over. Instead, he turned and began to lead them back into the chapel. Of course, when he pushed open the door, the rest of the attendees had stood to pay their final respects to dear Barbara so he ended up knocking someone off balance with the door, at which point they careened into one of the floral arrangements. It made a monstrous sound, drawing the attention of everybody in the room, including Sinead, whose head snapped around so fast she looked like she’d need to be exorcised.
“I hope there’s enough room in that casket for the three of us,” Oscar remarked quietly after a long, fraught silence. “Because Sinead is going to murder us.”