His mom said she’d disown him if he did. His dad, At least now when you’re talking out of your arse, you’ll be speaking the word of God.
It’ll be good, he said. But I want you to bury me ass-backwards, so when I’m received the first thing God sees is my devotion.
I think God has better things to look at.
Moon to moon.
Are you quite through?
He smiled. I guess I can’t be buried in a Jewish cemetery. Does that mean the Jewish God disapproves?
Why does it matter? You’re Catholic. On the face of it anyway.
Covering my bases is all. So. Where do you get buried in New York anyhow?
He found out and roped me into looking at plots.
The mole looked like Kyrgyzstan, though Ted liked to call it the frog. It did look like a frog swimming, his legs bowed open in a kick, two short arms out, amphibian nose pointed. But the frog was red, like rust, and eventually the edges bled out and bloated.
I want this one, here.
It was just me and him at the cemetery out in East Flatbush. His mother intended to come but at the last minute she thought she would faint.
Why this one?
It’s near the loo.
Well, I don’t want people running back and forth while they’re visiting. Takes away from the solemnity doesn’t it?
What about that one, near the Chestnut tree?
In the end he decided on cremation.
When they removed the mole from Ted’s back, it left a smooth, round pink scar. But then another popped up. And another.
Like frogs after the rain, he joked.
I told you to name it Kyrgyzstan. I felt angry at his mistake. There’s only one. It would have been the only one.
Ah, you know those Central European countries. They’re always starting new ones.
That doesn’t even make any sense.
He grinned and kissed my eyes, one at a time, and then the tip of my nose. Well you’re the history teacher.
Ted sat us all down around the kitchen table one Sunday afternoon. Now I want you to make sure that half of me goes back to Ireland.
His mother blew her nose.
Mum will ya please?
She honked harder.
With his long, red-haired arm draped over her, he continued. So like I said. Half in New York, Charlotte knows where. And half on the steps of Davy Byrne’s pub.
His father shook his head. This isn’t a joke Ted.
Who’s joking? I want it right there. Then eat yourself a Gorgonzola sandwich. I’ll leave you the ten quid. He slapped his knee. Ah that’s right, I can’t. They’re on the Euro these days. He laughed and laughed at his mistake.
When they called me in from the waiting room to join Ted in the doctor’s office, I knew. He could have told me good news on his own.
On our third date I brought Ted to that cobblestoned portion of Jane Street near the strange yellow door and the ginkgo trees.
Here it is, as promised. My favorite place in New York.
He looked around slowly, turning almost full circle.
“In case you’re wondering, I’m taking mental notes. They will be pieces of the puzzle called What Charlotte Loves About This Place.” He nodded, as in appraisal. “I’m thinking it’s going to be one of those 1000 piece puzzles that swallow the dining room table and look like a shit-mess until piece 899. I better start collecting.”
I take him with me at 5 am because I’m worried that someone will see me. In fact I don’t know what they would even guess I’m doing, pouring some ashes out of an empty tin of Hobbs Knobbs (Ted’s choice, of course.)
Why don’t you choose your favorite place? I asked.
Because I want to be your favorite place, he said. Who else gets to do that?
No one else. Never. Just you.
But halfway through I’m overtaken by the thought of dogs peeing on him and, in an instant, throw the rest to the wind.
Carrie Vasios Mullins earned her MFA from Columbia University. She writes about food when not working on her first novel. Her work has appeared in Serious Eats, Anamesa, Edible Brooklyn, and Two Serious Ladies, among other publications.