The Farrells sat on the patio of their Hawaiian hotel bungalow. A flock of butterflies floated overhead. The sun hovered over the ocean vista like a flamin’ hot synthetic-cheese-dusted macadamia nut. Somewhere nearby, a person was playing the ukulele.
“Oh God,” said Cathy from behind the paper, “did you hear poor Patsy Dinkle passed away?”
“Oh God, no,” said Bob. “What of, the cancer?”
“It wasn’t the cancer,” said Cathy, “but the heart attack on top of the cancer.”
“Who’s Patsy Dinkle?” asked little Maeve.
“You know Patsy Dinkle,” responded Cathy. “She was homely but had loads of personality. We met her once in the grocery, and then never saw her again.”
“I’ll miss her,” said Bob.
“She was only eighty-nine,” added Cathy. “And it says she had cats.”
“Who will care for the cats now?” Bob asked the setting sun.
“You guys think we should go swimming with sting rays or something tomorrow?” asked Maeve.
“Oh God. Oh no.” Cathy put down the paper. “You know who died?”
“Oh no!” said Bob. He started to cry. “Who died this time?”
“It says here Allan St. John died!” Cathy tossed her drink over her shoulder, where it exploded on the patio. “Allan St. John of all people!”
“But he used to visit the gym! He ate the antioxidants!” Bob beat his head twice on the top of the glass table, but it didn’t break. “Was it a speeding car?”
“Not a speeding car, but poison from the air vents at the office.”
“Hey you guys,” said Maeve, “I think I see a mongoose smelling a hibiscus over there.”
“They carry a disease,” said Bob. “Look at him, he’s sick. See that look in his eyes?”
“I think he’s just sniffing the flower.”
“No,” said Bob sadly. “He’s on his last legs.”
“Oh, Bob, oh look,” said Cathy. “Look at Obama here. See all that gray? He’s not going to make it past seventy. From the stress.” She began to cry to the tune of Danny Boy.
Bob sawed off his thumb with a leftover skewer from the grill.
“Dad,” said Maeve, “don’t do that.”
“Why not? You’re young. Go on living with your head in the cashmere white sands. What do I need thumbs for, at my age?” Bob put the thumb in his Mai Tai, where it socialized with a piece of bobbing pineapple.
“Let’s put the paper away,” suggested Maeve. “Let’s put the obituaries aside. We’re in Hawaii.”
The sky grumbled. “That sounded nuclear,” said Cathy. Her eyebrows took the elevator down to the bottom floor.
“Probably an active volcano,” said Bob.
“Or maybe thunder,” said Maeve. “Or a really fun party with the bumping bass.”
“Are you going to drink that?” asked Cathy.
“No,” said Bob.
Cathy drained Bob’s cocktail around the thumb. She ate the pineapple.
“Remember when Kennedy was shot?” asked Bob.
“Oh God, oh sure. Remember when the AIDS came?”
“Just stop it,” said Maeve.
“Remember when you found that funny mole and they removed it and said, ‘Good thing you did’?”
“Remember when I had that awful pneumonia in 1977?”
“Sure do; remember when I caught the pneumonia and then got bronchitis on top of it and the doctors said if I’d kept my fever another day they’d have had to do a brain transfusion?”
“Yes, but that was nothing compared to my staph.”
“Oh, the staph.”
“Yes, the staph.”
“I’d never seen that much pus.”
The ukulele player stopped and relocated somewhere far away.
Maeve got up and stood on the edge of the lawn looking at the ocean.
“Cathy,” said Bob, “I’m so worried about the bees. We’d only live for four years without the bees.”
“I wouldn’t want to live four days without bees,” said Cathy, “I’d be too depressed.”
“Well, they’re going.”
To the right of the sun, Maeve saw a puff of smoke shoot out of a conical landmass in the distance, but not too far in the distance. She looked over at where the mongoose had been. It was gone.
A bee crawled over Bob’s thumb in the damp bottom of his glass. Bob squished it without thinking.
“What have you done!” exclaimed Cathy. “That may well have been the very last bee!”
“No! No! What have I done!” Bob combusted with guilt. He left a shadow in the shape of Dublin on the patio.
The sky belched again. Maeve had disappeared. Cathy picked up the paper.
“Where are the obituaries?” Cathy asked the patio. “Who took my obituaries?” She flipped to A2. A polar bear had been born in a zoo and had learned to do advanced math. “What am I supposed to do with this,” Cathy said. She stared at Bob’s thumb and the dead bee, then went inside to take a restorative steam shower with eucalyptus beads.