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Finnegan Died by Richard Seltzer

(On the occasion of the closing of Thee Coffee House, San Angelo, Texas, and the assemblage of its nostalgic friends, many of whom hadn't been around for months. November 28, 1970.)

Finnegan died,

as people do every once in a while,

so they held a funeral, an Irish funeral,

and relatives and old friends who hadn't seen him for months or years all gathered,

and it being winter, they held the picnic inside by candlelight;

and everybody had such a good time

that Grandpa promised to die next year so they could have another good time just like it,

and Grandma volunteered for the next year,

then all the aunts and uncles and cousins and third cousins and friends,

till they had two centuries all booked up,

and some pessimist in the crowd complained that he probably wouldn't live long enough for them to celebrate his funeral,

and one of the aunts complained that hers was scheduled after one of the cousins, and she wasn't going to play second fiddle to any mere cousin;

so Finnegan got up out of his coffin and told them to stop their squabbling --

they'd just open up a coffeehouse,

and every week they'd close it again,

and if people died, well, they could do it when they felt like it, in no particular order;

but everybody could get together anyway, once or twice a week,

and celebrate the funeral of the coffeehouse.

(published in Colorado North Review 32/1&2, p. 137) privacy statement