While I reflected on such things, we hastened to prepare for his funeral. No way was he going to be subjected to the American Way of Death, with its embalming, waxing, cosmetic retouching of the corpse; no, a traditional, ritualistic burial was in order. We decided to burn him at sea, as exemplified by our misconceptions of the East Indian tradition.
We were a ragtag group - six of us all told, each one more maladroit than the next. Logs - we needed logs! We had the foresight to put the body on ice - don't ask how, it's too weird. Well, OK - we "borrowed" a refrigerated meat truck. Any pangs we felt about our friend's corporeal envelope lying in wait where top-grade Angus steaks had recently dwelt was not long in our minds, as we were overwhelmed by our logging quest.
I won't bore you with the laborious details; sufffice it to say that we found ourselves struggling near shore, neck-deep in water, attempting to strap together half a dozen enormous logs with unsuitable materials and a striking lack of know-how. If the quest were not so serious, it would have been laughable. Well, OK: it was laughable. Sarah broke her thumb, and Wally skinned a goodly portion of his side, as we scrambled to control the logs in the admittedly mild current, certainly appearing as remarkably inept fools to any observer - although, to my knowledge, there were none. Eventually we achieved our goal: a six-log raft, surmounted with a bier of twigs and roots, atop which we placed our dear friend, wrapped foolishly in a plastic shroud.
Lighting the bier, as you can by now surmise, was similarly inept; we succeeded finally by dangerous overkill, and were lucky that Friedrich escaped with no more than first-degree burns across his hands and arms. And then: magnificent! The bier abalze in glory - although, in short order, the acrid stench of the burning plastic shroud dampened our spirits.
Nonetheless we commended our friend's soul to the afterworld, wherever and whatever that might be. The remains of the bier drifted off, and we returned to our mundane and, in most cases, tormented existences with welcome tokens of our efforts: broekn digits, seared bodies, confused and gladdened hearts. May he dwell in realms less deceptive than this one.