The Last Laugh |

The Last Laugh

Gabrielle Rafelson

Sunday night, Feb. 20, we were to have 20 people at our house to celebrate Bob’s birthday. A leg of lamb in the oven, three ice-cream cakes in the freezer, and several wine bottles already breathing.

At 6 p.m., we got the first call. A few of our guests – officials – were headed out to Woody Creek instead of Castle Creek. We canceled the party and spent the next few hours by the fire as Bob told stories of his past with Hunter dating back to the mid-’60s.We cried and thriftily consumed the opened bottles of wine. At 10 p.m. another call came in. Suddenly we were packing up the pizza, lamb, guacamole and half-eaten loaves of bread and hurling them into the back seat of the jeep. They were going to take Hunter’s body to the morgue and Bob wanted a last goodbye.I was behind the wheel, Bob screaming at me to drive faster. I could hardly see. There was a blizzard and my tears wouldn’t stop.

“Faster,” he said, “it doesn’t make any difference, it can’t be worse than what we are driving to.”Bob headed straight for Hunter’s kitchen. He knelt down and the fireman unzipped the body bag, snagging it a couple of times along the way. Bob looked at his friend for a long moment and said, “You son of a bitch, you screwed up my birthday party.”

Then he walked over to Juan, embraced him and said, “Your dad just lowered our property values.”Hours later, during the long and slow drive home, I finally asked my husband what Hunter looked like in death. Bob took a deep breath and said, “He looked surprised.”Gabrielle Rafelson is the wife of filmmaker Bob Rafelson. They live in the Castle Creek Valley.

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