Funeral Arrangements


A man stepped off the airway ramp, wearing a rumpled suit, a Rolex, and a disgruntled expression. He was tall, and slouching; slightly: his long limbs still looked to be unfolding himself from the cramped helicopter space. He had the general appearance of having been stuffed in the luggage compartment, rather than the luxury lounger he had been dozing on and off in for the past two hours. The blades of the chopper hummed and beat the air behind him in a frenzy, buffeting dark hair over hardened eyes.

“Glad you could make it,” shouted a portly man over the roar of the engine.

“Nearly didn’t,” sneered the tall man. His mouth continued to move, thin lips pursing and turned down at the corners; but the wind swept away what more he said, and swallowed it.  The smaller man nodded anyway, rubbed a hand over his shining bald head, and gestured towards a squat building perched on the manicured lawn.

“Let’s have a drink,” he hollered. “Then we can get down to business.”

“Good, I could use a stiff one.”

The two walked from the small concrete airstrip as the helicopter lifted and buzzed off like an angry bee. The stout man was puffing and reddening quickly as he tried to keep up with the long strides of his companion. He let them in and led the tall man to a sunny room with pinstriped armchairs and a rolling trolley bar. He gestured with a shoulder towards one of the chairs, then busied himself pouring three fingers of his finest liquor for each of them. Taking the bottle and the two glasses, he returned to the tall man; handed him the tumbler and sat; fidgeting with the trim on the edge of the upholstery. The dour, suited man set an immaculate black briefcase next to his chair, then lowered himself to sit.

“So,” he said, as he folded himself into an armchair. His long legs stretched in front of him, the fine material of his creased trousers drawing upwards, revealing brown argyle socks encasing knobby ankles. “I hear you have a funeral approaching. Not to worry, we at Soffe and Co. are here to help you every step of the way. During this trying time,” he added, almost as an afterthought. His companion swallowed and fingered the buttons on his shirt nervously.

“Yes,” said the balding man. “I appreciate the help. Especially the quick response. I’ve never done this before.” He chuckled, looking slightly panicked. A heavy, thin hand came to rest heavily on his shoulder. The stout man gulped at the long arm stretched to him, and the gaunt face attached to it.

“I understand. I’m here to help. And with such a generous fore-payment, you can rest assured that we will do everything we can to make this go smoothly.” His eyes glittered. “My colleagues and I at Soffe and Co. are well-used to these types of requests. We handle the funeral, obituary, announcement, any and all regulations regarding coffins, stones, and ashes– should you decide upon cremation.” He spread his hands mildly.

“No,” the ruddy man coughed after wetting his mouth his tongue. “No, that won’t be necessary. I know she would want an– an open casket. Gotta look her best, even on her last day, you know.” He laughed uncomfortably, then swallowed. “It’s what she would want.”

“Of course.” Long fingers held the sweating glass, but never lifted it to drink.  “I understand. Let me assure you we will take the best of care with your wife.” He set the glass on a small table, then lifted the briefcase to his lap, balancing it on bony knees and withdrawing some papers. Shuffling the pages and tapping briskly to align them, he shut the case with a click and laid the papers on top, reaching into his rumpled suit to reveal a pen.

“Just a few formalities,” he assured the pudgy man, who had a fine sheen of sweat on his forehead and a nervous, pained look. “Some information for the death certificate. Name?”

“Delores Pinger.”

“Age?”

“45.”

“Location of death?”

The ruddy man’s’ face drained of color underneath the rosy glow of alcohol, leaving a strange ashy hue everywhere but the bright cheeks.

“Nevermind,” said the other man; almost kindly: “We’ll worry about that later.” He filled out a few more lines, mumbling under his breath as he ticked off boxes and wrote in information. This went on for several minutes, with the occasional audible mumblings. “Cause of death, a knife wound…” Meanwhile, some color had returned to the large man’s face, and he fidgeted uncomfortably in the near silence. Finally, the pen stopped scribbling.

“Time of death… we’ll fill that in later.” the tall man hummed, checking over the files for any last information.  He looked up. “Any last requests?”

The short man winced.

“For your wife’s funeral,” the thin man amended.

“I want this to be a nice funeral.” His eyes darted up to his companion’s, then just as quickly averted. He downed the rest of his glass. “Nothing too gaudy or gloomy. It’s not what she would want.”

“No no no,” agreed the tall man. “Everything will be just as you specify. It will be a lovely event.”

“And flowers, and everything,” the stout man continued, getting more ruddy. He had poured more liquor into his tumbler and had tossed it back just as quickly. “I want this to be elegant, classy. Only the best for my sweetheart.”

“Of course,” the stern man soothed. “We take care of everything. Nothing to worry about.”

“Good,” said the shorter man. He paused, furrowing his brow until the blood rushed from the squeezed forehead, leaving white lines slashed in the red face. “I guess that’s it.”

“Excellent,” said the dour man. “Then I can get to work.” He ran his large hands over the lid of the case on his knees, popping the tabs on his briefcase open with his thumbs. He stroked over the seams of the case as he opened the lid slowly, his cruel mouth baring teeth. On anyone else it might have been considered a smile. The portly man shuddered in his seat, suddenly sweating profusely.  Withdrawing a gleaming knife, the tall man tested the blade’s edge with a thumbnail. “I’ll make sure the guest of honor will be properly prepared for her funeral.” Setting the briefcase next to the chair again, he stood, suddenly seeming terrifyingly tall. “Pleasure working with you,” he grinned. Clutching the knife in one bony hand, he stalked towards the door, turning to glance back to his portly companion.

“Her room’s in the left wing,” the short man managed weakly. “Up the staircase, third door to the right. Can’t miss it.” As the tall man prowled away, the stout man collapsed deeper into the pinstriped armchair.

Shaking, his face devoid of color and lips crushed into bloodless tension, he poured the last of the liquor into his glass and and raised the tumbler, beaded with condensation, towards the left wing. “To my dearly departed,” he mumbled, then drained it in one gulp.

Advertisements

my cat


The cat wades through my parent’s comforter, like some great feather-filled forest. Each paw-print is carefully deliberated, before being set down with dignity. She curls up on my dad’s lap. My dad simply rests his electronic reader on her back and continues scrolling through his feeds. Blinking lazily, the cat surveys me from my father’s knees. She knows who is boss here… the feline.

I wonder what cats think about, I mused.
I don’t think cats think like us, my dad said.
What do you think cats think about, I asked.
I think they think about being a cat. And about what parts they’ve licked.
I rolled my eyes. the cat narrowed it’s eyes into sleepy slits and gently purred. Her silky fur tensed as my dad readjusted, then relaxed back to a languid puddle of cat contentment. 

Consistent Upload Schedule and my Failing at it


I think of the people I follow online and what makes their content interesting to me. These I then try to insert into my own work, so people will follow me and find me interesting. For all that this blog is for myself; to sort through thoughts and feelings– I selfishly want more readers and more  comments. Recently I got a badge from WordPress saying I had gotten two hundred ‘likes.’ All those little clicks had accumulated into something I am quite proud of.

For YouTube, especially (my media time-sucker of choice), it’s important to upload often. I appreciate when artists and content creators post often, say once a week. Sometimes they have a consistent upload schedule, where on the day of the week promised, a new video comes out. I admire that. I don’t think I have it in me to replicate it, but I am setting a goal to write more often.

Writing is what I do. Most times, I feel like writing is doing me. That’s when my best work flows from my fingertips– when the words just use me as a conduit to the keyboard. Posts practically write themselves.

The rest of the time is a little harder: I have to think about the words, deliberate about what I’m trying to say; and often it’s still garbage. But! Practice makes perfect.

So I must practice, practice, practice.

A Trip to the Desert-Ocean


“I’ll show you the ocean,” he said.

“What?” I asked.

“We may be a little late,” he scratched his chin with his right hand, while his left held the wheel. We were in his older sister’s car; and Johnny Cash was crooning through the bluetooth from his playlist labeled: “10.” The night was a little too cold to have the windows down, so we sat in an aluminum bubble gliding down the highway. James made a right turn. “Definetly late,” he mused. “It would have been better five minutes ago. But you can still see it.”

I fiddled with my purse strap as I watched his hand rest on the gear stick from the corner of my eye. He had such nice hands. “Alright,” I said. “Show me the ocean.”

We rumbled past the overlook where we had first held hands, the road noise comfortably filling the space between us. I looked at his hands again as he fiddled with the music. He liked movie soundtracks, just like I did; and we’d spent some long drives transported not just by his car; but the faraway lands the notes created. But it seemed tonight was a night for gentler music.

“You remember the ocean.” he said. I turned to him, waiting, but he offered nothing else.

“Yeah, I remember the ocean.” He had told me about it while he was teaching me to drive manual. As we lurched and rumbled and I wrecked his transmission, he had laughed and told me how to find the ocean in the middle of our desert. “It has to be just right,” he told me. I cursed and hit the clutch. “Just after sunset. So it’s hazy and blue. The lights of the city are the stars; and you can– ease up on the clutch, and throw it in gear– and you can see the waves, at the horizon.” Gripping the stick with white-knuckled hands, I asked: “How?”

“In the sky! You turn your head upside-down, and there it is. The blue ocean with a starry sky above it.”

So tonight, after our movie date, he drove past the turn-off to my house and continued up the mountain. The sky was filled with freshly washed clouds, wrung out and drying in the cool night. Below them, the valley twinkled. A hazy blur of mountian crags dipped up and down between the two. I turned my head to the side, curling my shoulders up to my ears.

“I see it! I see it!” There was the ocean. Blue fluffy waves crested up to the jagged shoreline, blurring upwards into a starry city sky. “It’s the ocean!”

He grinned, one of his soft, slow smiles. “Next time I’ll take you to see it, we’ll get here the right time. It has to have just the right conditions.”

I grinned a sideways smile, curved like the moon in the sky waves. I looked forward to it.