Buckets Of Blessings
If your laws do not allow you to read this story, then don't. All the rest of you people who read it, if you think it's true, boy, have I investment opportunities for you!
Notes From Retta:
One thing I've learned while writing is to get the details down of daily life. When I write something over a longer period of time, I'm not so good. Most of my writing is about a specific period of time.
It's my hope you realize the characters are fictional. They have quirks and ignorance's just like anyone else.
Please don't try to write to me and tell me something is wrong with them. TO ME, they're FICTIONAL characters. TO ME, they're perfect as they are. If your world is so dull you have to correct a FICTIONAL CHARACTER, then get a life and don't bother to read my stories.
If you can accept this, read and enjoy.
The press conference sent the news into "Wheel of Fortune" time. They rolled without commercial interruption because Mitch would not stop talking.
Gregg started talking, and then turned it over to Mitch. Mitch started talking and he laid all the bad news out there to the point if I was an investor in the company, I'd be selling pennies on the dollar to get the hell away from it.
To say the news loves a train wreck is an understatement. When they go over into Wheel of Fortune and don't apologize it's unheard of. They did it not only then, but did it again and flew on in past Leno's monologue at the ten o'clock news.
What was funny was that off camera stood Mitch's lawyer, the business' lawyer, and a lawyer I found in Quincy by the name of O'Connell. All of them smiled and gave thumbs up, as everything said, and names used, were all true. Mitch, in his statements, took no prisoners and sent home no bodies. He slashed and burned the others in the fox holes.
I had the guys' cell phones in my pockets for fear they were going to answer them. The vibrations I felt were enough to keep a smile on my face. When the interview was concluding, Mitch, in a move of showmanship, calmly went over to the truck and said, “Guys, it's now time to deliver some beer.”, then the camera went black.
When the interview was over, I went to the lawyers and said, “You field the phone calls and you decide how much you want to ask when we countersue their threats of lawsuits. I want you to name one hundred times what their yearly incomes are and then, tell them you'll ask for punitive damages on top of that.
They smiled and I said, “Go to work, you're getting paid a percentage.” It was like trying to walk three pit bulls and they see a poodle and letting them go.
None of them even attempted to strike out at each other, but they definitely let Mary Lou and her son know they were toast.
Ty said he had to discuss some things with his dad and brother and I told him, I'd meet him at home. I drove home and had just snuggled under the down comforter when the front door slammed and I heard running up the stairs. He came into the bedroom and dove onto the bed.
“How'd I know you were going to be here!” He said with a huge smile on his face.
“Well, it's not hard to figure. My clothes led the trail to me.”
He said, 'You're nude under there?”
“Most likely because I sure feel that way.”
“Oh man, do we have time for a quickie?”
“No, but if you make it fast, we have have a longy.”
He laughed and said, “Well, I'm coming under those covers and whatever I find is going down my throat.”
“Ooh stinkie toes, watch out!”
He began laughing and said, “You're crazy.”
“No, just that way for you, stud puppy.”
“Yeah and I'm that way for you, love bunny.”
“Ooh, that's the spot, yeah, right there.”
He began nibbling and soon I was lost in the rapture brought by his mouth.
When we were done making love, he said, “I can't believe I ate the whole thing” like an old commercial. It was funny because I had just begun to sing the plop plop fizz fizz song when the phone rang.
He rolled over and answered and said, “Sure, you can have him I just wore that thing out!”
“Who is it!”
“Oh, get on the phone and find out.”
“You ok over there?”
“Who is this?”
“Well, if it were the evening news, I'd say we had another scoop.”
I took a look at the number and saw it was Joan's house.
“I'm sorry, but the caller I.D. says it's Joan's house, but you sure aren't Joan and Mark's not going to talk about scoops unless he's dressed as the Baskin Robbin's man, so which one are you?”
He started laughing and said, “Jake, Did you know Dad dresses like the Baskin Robbins man for mom!”
“Oh no, Mark!”
“Yeah, hey stud, I hear my cousin got himself a catch, so I called to see if it was true.”
“No, he never caught me, we're still running around the house naked. Hear me running!”
“Well damn, I guess he caught me”
He started laughing and said, “I'm supposed to call you as I hear all of us have a trip with you guys tonight.”
“Yeah, we're going to the arcade.”
“Well, so we can all talk and get away with murder and do something fun.”
“What do you want to talk about?”
“Well, I'd talk about having sex with your cousin, but he's already wore my ass out. So, I'd say we're going to talk about your love life.”
“Well, I already told mom and she knows and Dad's cool with it, so there's not much to tell. I'm seeing someone and he was supposed to come home with me, but the last minute he backed out.”
“See, now you've said it. That's my love life. It's like the fucking Oprah channel....Oh”
I laughed and said, “Well, is it love like Tom Cruise jumping on the sofa love, or is it Love like Oprah loves Steadman, or is it Love like......”
“Well, to interrupt you, I think it's love like Caspar the fucking friendly ghost. About the time I think it's there, it runs out of the room scared.”
“Yeah, so I think I came out of the closet for the guy and he's shagged ass gone.”
“Well, we'll get you laid, hon.”
“No, I'm not really interested in that.”
“Not interested in sex! Are you sure you're a member of that family!”
“He laughed and said, “Well, I put my Chippendale costume on and it's like I went out and a one handed man tried giving me applause. All I felt was the wind from the lack of it.”
“Ooh, bummer dude. You gotta get your ass over here because we'll watch you and beat ourselves blind. Then, the hands reaching out for you will be to feel the dots to see if we can read you.”
He laughed and said, “Oh man,” that was funny.”
“Yeah, I tried to cheer you up.”
“Well, where do you live, so Jake and I can come over and play.”
I gave him the address and he said, “Where the hell is that?”
“Well, follow the road out by Caseys and then turn right. Out where a field used to be, is now a bunch of new houses. If you go and see the new hospital, you've went too far. Turn around and we're on the left. If you went to far and see Casey's, turn around and we're on the right. Eventually, you'll see the road. It's in the old field where there's a bunch of new houses.”
He laughed and said, “Oh man, you've got to give Jake those directions. I'll get lost for sure.”
“Hello” said a deeper huskier voice.
“Hi Jake, man oh man I've been dying to meet you.”
“Yeah, you write stories and plays huh?”
“You think so?”
“Yeah, and from what I hear, everyone likes them, so I've wanted to meet you.”
“You're not going to try to pull anything are you?”
“You want me to pull something, I'm your man. If you don't want me to pull it, then leave it tucked in.”
Ty's face was red as a beet and said, “Let me have that phone!”
“Jake, you know where Veterans is out past Caseys? Well drive out and it's on the right in the new housing complex. When you see the house that looks really old, you've got us. Just pull in the driveway and honk.”
He hung up and said, “You pull that on Jake, he'll write that into a story. You've got to be careful with him.”
“I thought for a minute I was dealing with a box of rocks.”
“No, Jake's different. Follow my lead on him.
With Mark, you'll have him in stitches. With Jake, he'll sit back and remember everything you said and then will go home and write a story about what you said.
Then, he'll act out the characters and it'll be perfectly you. It's strange because he's got a very very dry stale dry Sahara dry sense of humor but when he's acting, you're not going to see that person at all. You'll see a caricature of yourself.”
“Oh, that might be good, but that might irk the hell out of me.”
“Well, just give him a chance. I think you'll like him.”
“Ok, you want to call Gregg and Heather and have them over?”
“I don't know. I'll tell you why. Gregg will be in and be all protective of Jake. You won't get to know him at all. Jake's a good guy, but Gregg's like really possessive of him.”
“Gregg said Jake didn't take any shit off him.”
“No, because Jake turned Gregg back on himself. He played Gregg's character back to him and it blew Gregg away.”
“Oh, so what's the real Jake like?”
“As I said, Dry as a stale cracker.”
“Ok, well, let's get up and pick my clothes up so they don't see Longfellow.”
“Oh, I don't know Mark might like that.”
“No, Mark sounded depressed as hell, because his lover played a Tony on him.”
“Yeah, when it was time to meet the family, the guy backed out.”
“Oh, I thought you meant...”
“No, but Mark sounds like he's depressed.”
“Well, Mark won't stay that way for long. He's too extroverted.”
“Well, Neither want to go to the arcade and to be honest, I think they'd not be that much fun to take there. It's sounding like I'd rather spend the evening at the funeral home.”
“Oh, well, that might be cool. We do need to go down there and get it ready.”
“We're supposed to get to know them and like them. That's hardly the place to take someone for a fun filled night.”
“Oh man, you don't see it for all the neat stuff.”
“Let's see, a million pink roses. Mark might like it, but I think Jake would take up acting the part of your mom.”
“That'd be funny.”
“No, because I think your mom and I might get along better.”
“Give him a chance.”
“I will, what's Jake going to do when he starts acting the part of me and I start acting the part of me up against the part he's acting. Is he going to act the part of me acting the part of him acting the part of me.”
“Now you sound like family.”
“Ooh, I'm gonna get you for that.....wow, what a sexy ass.”
“Yeah, I think.”
“Well you gotta catch it.”
He proceeded to chase me through the house and had me pinned up against the refrigerator when the door bell rang. I looked at him and said, “Damn, that was fast.”
“Can't be them, no one could drive that fast.”
“Well, throw me my clothes quick!”
“How about if I throw you your clothes slow and answer the door quick. Then, I'd get to see you dress super fast.”
“You do and I'........Oh hi ya'll.”
Heather entered and all she saw was the Longfellow serenade. She turned around and Gregg walked on in.
“So, I see you two are running around the house naked again.”
“It's not like we do it all the time. Heck, we got to stay home for that.”
I tucked everything in and Heather turned back around. Gregg's eyes never left me as he went on over and sat on the sofa. I sure hope he got an eyeful.
Heather went over and sat with Gregg, and Ty came over and sat on the arm of my chair with me. He said, “Mark and Jake are on their way out.”
“Mark's depressed because he got stood up by his guy on the trip home.”
Gregg caressed Heather's back and said, “Well, maybe he needs to find someone else. It sure doesn't sound like the Mark we know.”
“No, but I think he liked this guy.”
“He likes them all.”
“It's not like he screws the football team Gregg.” The tone of Ty's voice had an edge to it which put me on alert.
“No, but two trips home and two guys, give him enough trips home and he will have.”
“No, we're going to have to find him someone and then, he'll be happy.”
“Nah, all Mark has to do is go to the grocery store and he'll find someone. Remember that trip when he saw those two guys name tags, Neil and Bob?”
“Yeah and then he went home with Bob!” Ty's voice lost the edge and sounded happier which was good.
“Yeah, but it was funny because I sure never caught it. As soon as Mark saw it, he was falling into the candy rack laughing.”
“I bet those guys never worked together again.”
I interrupted and said, “So, what are we going to do tonight?”
Gregg looked at Heather, “Babe?”
She looked at me and said, “Well, I thought we were going to the arcade, but we could go to the funeral home and help.”
Ty smiled and said, “That's two votes!”
I placed my hand on Ty's ass and he said, “But then again if Lance wants to stay home and get frisky, I could be persuaded.”
I smiled and Gregg started laughing. Gregg said, “Lance, would you come out front?”
I looked at him and said, “Sure, but what for?”
“Because I need to speak with you.”
“Ok, be right there. I gotta get shoes on. He might try to keep me barefoot and all the rest, but you guys need to take lessons.”
Gregg smiled and said, “Who's to say I didn't teach my brother a lesson or two?”
So help me, I wanted to say, “Well, he really knows how to play the organ” but I didn't.
Heather saw me swallow and smiled. She said, “Hon, you gotta stop that. Lance could have really gotten you there.”
“What could he have said?”
I looked at Gregg and said, “Little Brother, you really don't know how you leave yourself open to my wicked little sense of humor.”
He smiled and said, “Well come on, I've been waiting all night!”
I slipped my foot into the last shoe and said, “Ok, I'm on my way. Damn, impatient children.”
I stepped out the front door and as soon as I saw it, I froze.
Gregg held out the keys and said, “It doesn't have everything on it yet, but it's paid for to get the turbos.”
Tears stung my eyes and I said, “Oh man.....what year is it?”
“It's brand new”
“Oh man, I've never had a new 'Vette before!”
I ran over and as soon as I opened the door, the smell of the leather hit me. Heather came out the front door and said, “You really need to thank someone in here for it. He's worried you would feel offended.”
I left the door standing wide open and ran into the house. Ty was standing there with a strange look on his face and I lifted him into a hug. “You like it?”
“Babe, I love you. I like it.”
He smiled and said, “You never say you want anything, so I decided to get it for you.”
“Thank you babe.”
He smiled and said, “Well, let's go take it for a quick ride. I hope you don't mind, but I got a convertible. I figured if you were going to get one given to you, I better get one I'd like to drive in case you didn't like it.”
“Oh hon, smell that leather!”
“Yeah, it's like an aphrodisiac, huh.”
“Better than that. The squeak of my ass on the seat and the smell of leather and I'll come home wanting you something awful.”
“Well, promise me later and we'll ride around the block every night.”
“Oh hon, all we have to do is go to the garage and we'll be making out on the hood.”
“That's better yet!”
I said, “The button doesn't open the garage. I'll have to get the right opener.”
He looked at it and said, “They never put batteries in!”
“Well, we'll have them fix it.”
“Spend that much for a car and they don't pay a dollar for batteries. Take it back!”
“Ok, all that motion on the hood might make the door go up and down.”
I laughed and said, I need to get out and thank them, but you realize we don't have a vehicle here to take them home. Both of ours has just two seats.”
“Are you on call tonight?”
“Oh man, that's going to suck.”
“Nah, it's not like we get many calls.”
And that folks is what they say are famous last words...
Just when it seems like you never get a call, you get four in one night.
By the next morning, I was so bleary eyed, I was a walking zombie. Ty went with me and he really didn't look much better than I did.
It seemed we'd just get laid down and snuggled and the next one would occur. We had two house deaths where old people passed away, a semi truck overturn full of hogs and if you ever want to see a bloody mess...there you go, and a pickup at the hospital.
Ty looked at me after the night and asked, “Is it always like this?”
“No, it's never been like this. Kind of makes you really want to go into the business, huh?”
“Well, I'd say business is picking up, you're now at sixteen and you're not through with the second month!”
“We hon, we.”
He smiled and said, “Well, teach me what I need to know.”
“First of all, you've got to wear comfortable shoes. Those there aren't good for anything.”
“These are Nikes!”
“Yeah, and try climbing an embankment in them and you'll skate to the bottom in them. You need a pair of hiking boots that are black.”
“Because they go with the black pants.”
“Then, you need a nice polo shirt and a black jacket. I'll order you a jacket that has the funeral home's new logo on it when we figure out what that will be. I don't want GT because that's too much like a car.”
He thought for a moment and said, “How about the carriage bars with G and T on each side of it?”
“That sounds nice.”
“Yeah, it's a shame we can't have the same name like if we got married.”
“Yeah, but if I did that, my brothers would have a different last name than me.”
“No, I'd drop mine.”
“No, I love your family too much to have you do that.”
“Well, we're hyphenated in the name, so we'd do that.”
It was funny because after each little conversation, we were running to each other for a hug and a kiss. He learned embalming that night and surprisingly, he never got grossed out. He said, “Is that all there is to it?”
“Yeah, when there's not a bunch of holes to patch up.”
“Oh, so was mom bad?”
“Ty, I won't answer that.”
“Well, you wouldn't let me watch.”
“Ty, not ever gonna happen. I love you too much for that.”
He smiled and said, “Well, I'm learning now.”
The next two came so close together, we didn't have time for embalming. Then, when we got back, he was prepping one while I was embalming the other when we got the phone call from the hospital.
He went with me and I introduced him to the security man at the hospital. I told the security man there should be a pass for him already made and he was surprised to see one. Thank goodness Joan's thorough.
Ty had learned a lot that night and I was happy. He now knew the business as well as could be expected and what else there was, could be caught by repetition.
When we went upstairs, the place was adorned with so many flowers wall space was at a minimum everywhere. He and I walked around and and just oohed and ahhed.
What was interesting was an elaborate display of a huge eight foot by eight foot spray that had a miniature Draft Horse in front of a sunburst done up in carnations tinted pink pulling a hitch that wasn't shown.
Each radiating beam from behind the horse had hollyhocks either tinted in yellow, gold, or white. I was so impressed with the display I went and got my digital camera for the capture. Ty stood there with tears in his eyes and read the card.
I expected it to be from the brewery, but when he handed it to me, I looked at it. “To My Loving Wife, Mitch” That's when I started to cry.
Ty and I went on into the chapel and the explosion of flowers was amazing. I said, “Ty, come here, I need to show you where the air scrubbers are and how to do the air handling system.”
He went with me and said, “It's upstairs?”
“Yeah, back here in the room with the panel. We went in and the coldness of the room surprised him. He said, “It's cold in here!”
“Yeah, it chills the air to get it down to be scrubbed. Warm air holds onto mold and allergens. Cold air doesn't.”
“I didn't know that.”
“That's why you don't see mold deep in caves. You'll see it where there's warmer air, but not deep. Those tubes up and over there are the lights which clean the air first. Then, it goes over to these which are the electronic filters. You pull these babies up like this and you wash them over in that utility tub there.
That Ajax and Ammonia mixed together in the water, kills anything on them so your hands don't carry anything around. Then, you pop them back in here and snap that back into place. Then, the air goes over to this big mama which is the HEPA filter.”
“Man, that's huge!”
“Yeah, and believe it or not, it's not surprisingly expensive, but you'll be amazed at how much it still catches. When it comes in it weighs like this. See how light.
And when we haul that thing out, it goes out in that cart there. They don't make a trash bag big enough for this thing, so the trash man's ok with me using a body bag as long as I label it with that white marker over there HEPA filter. He doesn't want the dump to think they're getting a body.”
“How heavy is it?”
“Well, come here and I'll show you. That empty one weighs ten pounds. It's two foot by six feet and nine inches deep. This full one slides out on that glide down there and don't trip on it, but have that cart handy because this baby if it falls will clog you up faster than the next breath. You tilt it up on there....ugh.....see, and you pull that over there. Don't put that bag on yourself. I'll help. If that thing falls on you, you'll probably stay there until I find you.”
“How much does it weigh.”
“Approximately three hundred to four hundred pounds.”
“Yeah, those flowers downstairs. And, because all of them are down there, we'll probably have to change this new one tomorrow.”
“Yeah, it's catching ppms which are parts per million. That means a million of them per inch. The air downstairs will be about twenty times cleaner than it is outside, so keep the doors shut. We're not paying to clean the outside.”
“Yeah, but hon, we'll order more HEPAs and get those in next week. We'll have three more funerals and probably that fourth between now and then.”
“Man, we're going to be busy.”
“Yeah, This one here of your mom's seems slow, but those down there will seem like they're in fast forward. Two will be on Friday and the other is Saturday, so far.”
“How will you know what to schedule.”
“I'll give you a clue. We're going to St. Louis on Thursday, so whichever doesn't have a viewing will get the Friday funerals. The one which gets the viewing will get Saturday's.”
“What if they have viewings?”
“Well, we bump the ones that have viewings to Saturday and when that fills, I'll go to Sunday afternoon. We have a family and it's priority.
Now, if Sunday fills, then we'll have to stay home on Thursday.”
“Yeah, so we bump and fill.”
He nodded and I said, “So, we've already embalmed and now, it's pretty much a thing of the obits and pics. We'll go to the office and we'll start the obits.
I like to have them filled in by the time the family gets here and then all it requires is fill in the blanks for their civic organizations, church names, etc...etc...”
“So, when the person walks through the door, you're already steps ahead in the game?”
“Yeah, come on, and I'll show you. An obituary is easy.”
We went downstairs and into the office and I showed him, on the overhead monitor, how it was done.”
“So, you've already got a “Text” document started for these.”
“Yeah, all it requires is fill in the blanks and deleting the rest of the line.”
“Yeah, and then you read off the death cert, what the person's name and city are. Then, you put the age and date of birth and date of death. Then, put age.
I used to have a program that did age automatically, but it was real tedious. I got to the point I could do it faster in my head. If you want to use the program, it's over here in the programs file under Age Calculator. What you do is put in the calendar day and then scroll for the year of birth and then do the same for today's date. It'll tell you years lived and days lived. You don't put the days unless it's a baby.”
“Oh man, I never thought of that!”
“Yeah, sad sad sad....what you didn't see up there is baby caskets and that's because they're under the big ones. I don't put them out, because I'll tell you it's ultra depressing. You don't often see me cry at a funeral, but you'll see me ducking out often with a baby. When you do, step in for me, and I'll do the same for you.”
But, one thing you do is you try not to cry in front of the family. I don't care if you're in mid sentence, you step out of the room.
They can see your eyes red and watery, but you're there to hold it together for them. If they see you losing it, then I'll tell you, you'll have a blubbering mess in that chapel and you'll probably have some fights on your hands.”
“Yeah, decorum says people have to hold it together emotionally. If you lose it, it starts dominoes falling and you'll have a mess.
If a fight breaks out, you tell the family to stand back and you hit that panic button. Your job is to protect the body at all costs, however, you never ever ever close that casket with the family in the room. The only time you do that is if the sprinklers malfunction and you're doing it and shoving the casket out the door. The sprinklers are on several circuits here, so don't be afraid to have a viewing out in that rotunda. I've had smaller ones there and it's worked. I didn't like it, but when that big room is too much for three or four people, then, it's ok.”
“Yeah, and when we get the addition put on, you'll have two smaller rooms over there. We'll have big, medium, and small. If we ever get to the point of needing several big, then I'll tell you the town's gotten a whole lot bigger than we'll ever see.”
“Will Quincy's be that big?”
“Possibly. What I'm thinking there is having a different design over there and having six chapels. Two of each. What you'll see is this home with wings on each side.”
“Yeah, and it'll look antebellum instead of Queen Anne.”
“Yeah, I've still got it in my head, but I've been thinking.”
“Well, you just describing it has given me ideas.”
“Yeah, but Ty, what we've got to do is have parking space over there. They turn out enmasse over there and I don't want to ever go to the street to park. If we ever have to do that, we're in trouble.”
“That street's too busy, for one thing, and the chances of someone being hit and killed at a funeral are too great. Nothing's going to hurt me more than if someone has that happen at a funeral.”
“Has it happened before?”
“Oh man, the horror stories are many. You talk about it happening, it's happened.
From trains hitting funeral processions to semi's cresting hills and running smack dab on a funeral, turning it into a grave yard.
You want to talk about bedlam, I just can't imagine, but if it ever happens, I'll tell you something and that's to protect the body at all costs. Then, the family, and then the attendees. In that order.”
“Ok, but why?”
“Well, do you want the God's honest truth?”
“Well, as long as there's a body, there's an income. As long as there are people to pay for the funeral, you've got an income. The attendees don't pay for a funeral, so they're expendable.”
“Yeah, it's cold, but those are the facts. You got to leave your emotions at the door on this.”
“No, I'll rephrase that. In front of the families, you leave your emotions at the door. In front of me, you can do whatever and I'll support you.
We're going to see things that you'll just fall down crying. I had a baby once that was beat so bad that I just held that body and cried. The mama went to jail and grandma wasn't much better, but we made it.
What really pissed me off was the drugs in that chapel during that viewing. When I saw it, I hit the panic button and finally, I told the grandma that if I had to shut down the viewing one more time, I'd close the doors and she and I would have a funeral. She understood, but the attendees were all out there hawking their wares.”
“I think I heard about that one. Wasn't that the one the mother was trying to take the baby to her mom's house and the taxicab driver saw the baby and told her she was taking the baby to the hospital?”
“Yeah, sometimes I wonder what would have happened if he'd not noticed the baby looking as bad as it was.”
“Well, was it bad to embalm?”
“It was terrible. The little body had bruises and was so messed up in the facial features I really wanted a closed casket. The gram wanted an open body, I think, to show everyone what she did to it so she could never say it wasn't beaten that bad.”
“Smart, but sometimes you need to leave a little to imagination. That's probably the most graphic I'll ever have a funeral.”
“Yeah, and if you'll notice Ty, we probably aren't going to see many black funerals in here after that one, because word got out I was a racist. That's bullshit, but I admit I'm prejudiced against drugs being hawked and used in my funeral home.
If they can't do that shit out there on the street, then fuck 'em. No, not all of them did it, but the young ones that were the offenders went out and acted like I was racist.
The older family members all came up and told me I did the right thing. It's terrible, but I pity everyone out there in the projects. White, blacks, and poor, all have a hell of a problem out there. It's not blacks and it's not whites. It's the young versus the old. Drugs have taken over and the police don't have a clue.”
“Not all young use drugs.”
“No, and I know that. Those that don't, stand tall and I'll be the first to give accolades. They know I'm not racist and they know where I stand.”
“You got your feelings hurt, didn't you?”
“Yeah, and I'll tell you why.”
“Down the street, you have a funeral home that will take a body in and do a funeral for poor people. He's a great guy and he does the monthly payment plan I do. BUT, he charges interest a credit card company would be proud to get. That's twenty eight percent interest, hon. Me, I don't charge a penny interest and yet, I'm a racist.”
“Well, they'll come back.”
“I don't want them back, if they want to do that stuff in a funeral home.”
“Well, I agree there.”
“You want to know what's funny in a way?”
“After being labeled a racist, you'd be amazed at how many of them punks thought they'd drive by and throw rocks through my pretty plate glass windows. Don't you know they were surprised when the windows bounced them off.”
“How'd you know they did?”
“First of all, you won't find a rock, brick or anything on the property. Second of all, I walk this property every morning and most of the time several times a day. Trash makes it look unsightly and I don't want it said I didn't have a nice home.
When I walk out there, and see a brick laying under a window, I come in and watch video. I call the police and I show them the tape. They said, “Get us a license number and we'll go get them, so, I put up twelve more cameras. By then, they've realized they're not going to get the windows broke and they gave up.”
He smiled and said, “Well, you've got more video than most places around here, so you've got plenty to watch for when times are slow.”
“They're never that slow. I've got a house with television and I've got Railroad Tycoon on the computer.”
He smiled and said, “Any other games?”
“No, but if you want them, install them. All I expect is when you load a video presentation into the system in the chapel, someone's not seeing your latest battle of the dragon lords or whatever.”
He smiled and said, “Man, that's so not right.”
“I wouldn't think either because the kids might appreciate it, but grandma might yell out, “turn that thing down!”
“So what else needs to be done?”
“Well, for one thing, we've got to have like two bottles of Soft Soap out per basin tonight and I want a box of Kleenex every four feet on the pews. I want one within reach of everyone.”
“When are we going to put mom's casket up there?”
“I'll put it up there about three pm. You'll be at home getting ready.”
“Lance, let me help.”
“There'll be other funerals.”
He looked at me and said, “Ok, now, what you've not done is showed me where mom is. Could you do that?”
“Ok, I'll do that. You never saw, because I distracted you. If you notice, there's the big morgue that's holding the twelve down there. Then, there's the little one that we put the bodies in that don't have caskets. Then, there's the vault morgue that is locked down.”
“Why's it locked down?”
“I'll tell you. Your mom has jewelry on. Not much, but some. Because of that, I have the locked vault.
The entire casket goes in there and it's locked before it goes in. Then, the whole vault is locked.
Right now, it can hold two bodies. When we add on, we'll have it holding four. It's reinforced concrete and the entire weight of this building could collapse on it and your mom would still be ok. The beauticians know where the keys are and where they do make up has eight cameras in it. They'll not take a thing from that body which won't be recorded. They know that and I show them that. They either agree to those terms, or they don't go in there.
So, as I said, that vault is locked and then that room is locked where it's located. The embalming room is locked and that's another door outside of the embalming room. Not one person in this place is going to accidentally find themselves in the embalming room or that vault room.
If they say they've been there, I want to know their name and I want them sitting in front of me and the police called. I'll press trespass charges and I can guarantee you they'll come off that statement, or they'll face charges.”
“Do you have video in the embalming room?”
“No, due to privacy issues. I don't want anyone to say I videoed a naked dead body. Too many things could be misconstrued and that's not happening.”
“Yeah, so that's why there's no video there.”
“Have you ever had anything come up missing?”
“Not here, but where I interned they did. That's why I've got the video I do.
I'll show you where the eyes are in the casket area that protect the body. While I'm thinking of it, let's go check it now. I want you to see it so you know.”
We went in and I said, “Ok, there's an imaginary line right here. See where that carpet changes?”
“Yeah, that's a different roll.”
“That's there so you and I know behind that line is where the beams are that are an alarm system for the body.”
“What if someone breaks it?”
“I'll explain it to everyone tonight. First of all, for someone to stick their hand in that casket is uncalled for. They'll break the beam.
If they want a photo or memorance to go in the casket, you guys tell me, and I'll break the beam and I'll shut the alarm system down in front of everyone, so they see it's on and active.
Now, if someone breaks the beam, you'll not hear an alarm, but you will hear a real faint chime. Wait and I'll activate it, but first move that flower forward about six inches.
Ok, now, take a look over there in the curtain. Now, part it and pull those mirrors out...just the mirror and not the whole stick it's attached to. When the curtain moves, those are on hinges attached to the walls and the curtain will push it back. We pull it through the curtain and if you pay close attention, the curtains aren't anything but strips of material a foot wide. They look solid, but that's because they overlap.”
“Now, what you do, is you put on these glasses and you can see the beams. You see them?”
“Yeah, they're all over the place! How'd you get the one's that are up and down?”
“In the floor where that carpet seem is, you'll see it's where the beam comes up. On the ceiling is the receptor. Over here, I've got the beam and you've got the receptor, so what you do is put it so the receptor catches the beam. Yeah, like that.”
“Yeah, and it's not going to ever be hard.”
Now, step forward and you'll see what the presentation will look like with the glasses on, and with them off."
“Man, no one could stick an arm throught there.”
“Right. I pride myself on having it and don't mind people knowing I've got it. Now, what we've got to do is we've got to adjust video heads.”
“Where they at?”
“Well, the one's in the ceiling are stationary, Over there, there, and there are the ones which will be on your mom from the top. Over there..one second, now you see it?”
“Yeah, and up there and over here are the ones on this side Now, if you'll take this step stool, you'll see the ones up where you need to pull them through on that side.”
“So you've got nine camera's on mom?”
“Well, really eight, but what I'll do, is I'll run back and forth and adjust them to where they show everything. No one will take a thing from that casket without it being recorded.”
He smiled and said, “Well, she'd rip their arm off too!”
“She would've but now it's our job to protect her.”
“You just said that, to emphasize to me she's gone.”
“Yeah. From this point on, in the way I talk to you guys, it'll be not talking about what she would have done, it'll be to subtly tell you she's gone.
I'm telling you upfront, but I won't come right out and tell your dad and brother. It's a psychological nudge to get ready for tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow's going to be tough, Ty. I'll tell you now.
Right now, you're still wanting to see your mom. You'll see her tonight, and then tomorrow, she'll be gone forever.
I know you might say you're prepared for it, but I'll tell you that now. It's hard.
With my parents, I never got closure. I never got that final visitation. My closed casket is up here because when a jet explodes, you don't get a body back.”
He nodded and I said, “Come here, hon.”
He came over and I hugged him. Somewhere I smelled coffee brewing and I said, “Heather's up.”
“How do you know?”
“Smell the coffee?”
“No, all I can smell are roses and you.”
I chuckled and said, “Maybe it's me, but a little change in this place after a while, and I can smell it.”
“You're telling me I will too?”
“Yeah, and one other thing, Ty.”
“Downstairs, if you ever smell ammonia really really strong, you don't even go into look to see what it is, you go call the fire department and tell them we've got a toxic body.”
“What's that mean?”
“OK, here's another lesson on drugs.
When people brew meth, and/or they've taken meth for a long time, the chemicals in their body and on them will not jive with the embalming fluid. Sometimes, they use embalming fluid in the manufacture of it and a body will go toxic with the embalming fluid in their system.
You'll see me take breaks and walk over to mark on that pad I write on. Did you notice I write on two pads in that room?”
“So I've got to take breaks and I've got to go from pad to pad. If I just did things one right after the other, I'd go to one pad and do check, check, check , and check.
Instead, I do something and then go check. Then, I come back and I do something and then go to the other and check.
The reason is I'm not standing over that body and I'm not inhaling any fumes if it goes toxic. So, if you smell ammonia, evacuate the building and call the fire department on your way out. You'll not get a chance to walk out of that room, you'll be dead.”
“It's that bad?”
“Yeah, and it's that lethal. You'll see a body come out of there that's glowing and smoking.”
“Have you had one?”
“Not here, but in school, we had one that sent four people to the hospital. I was lucky as I hadn't entered the room yet.
When they took that body out, I saw it and I smelled it. I won't forget that smell and I won't forget how close I came to losing friends.”
He looked at me and said, “How will I know?”
“First of all, you won't be embalming bodies. You and I will never get to the point where I love you enough to give up my license over you.
Second of all, I love you enough to not allow you to embalm and be there with you. I'll smell it hopefully, and I'll have advanced notice. If not, the smell is strong ammonia and you don't go near it.”
“I'm trying to tell you things that I hope will sink in. I know you're not going to remember it all, but over time of doing it day after day, you'll have it down. If not, in on the computer is a check list of what to do.”
“What do I do if you're sick and can't embalm a body?”
“You call one of the other guys that are on our list of people that are on call. If they don't do it, you let me know and I'll come up off a death bed to go kick his ass.
I watch out for those guys when they take vacations and when they have sickness and death in their families. I expect them to do likewise.
On this funeral here, I skated so far into the gray area, you wouldn't believe how far in I was. One of the first things Ben did was ask me if I was too close. I'll tell you now, if I ever met your mom once in life, I wouldn't have done the funeral.”
“I'd be too close.”
“Your aunt wants to have her funeral done here. And, that's fine. I'll tell you now, the funeral will be held here, but it won't be done by me. I'll oversee everything she wanted, but I won't be doing it. Somehow, I know she wants me to have the business because she knows I'll pay attention to the details, but how would you feel if your aunt or uncle was seeing your body naked and dead?”
“Yeah, so that's why I won't do it. I love them and I respect them too much. That's why I won't let you go see your mom.”
He nodded and said, “I understand, now.”
“Well, I knew you would, but Ty, know it's because I loved you enough not to tell you all this until I knew you could handle it.”
“I understand now. I was really not understanding earlier and that's why I asked where she was.”
“I know, and I'll tell you now that for you to go see the casket and to bring it up would be too much. You still want your mom in a small way and you being alone with the body and moving it in here would have you just a mess.”
We stood there and hugged and I heard Heather say behind me, “You know, he taught me to stand and hug and talk like that.”
“No, don't believe her, she taught me that.”
“Oh pfft....you did it that one day you came over and I was in my bedroom. You stood there and I hugged you and then you stood there an hugged me and started talking. Then, an hour later, we were still standing there hugging.”
“Did you hear her? She said she came over and hugged me first!”
He smiled and said, “I heard you, Heather. You started it.”
“Well, he did. I was just going to hug him and then, he started the hug and talk.”
“Well come here hon, and we'll all hug and talk.”
Ty looked at me and I brought her into the hug. He smiled and said, “It can be done.”
She smiled and said, “Wow, you figured it out so you could include us all in it!”
“Well, when Gregg gets up, he can join.”
“No, because by then, I'll have my third cup of coffee. He sleeps in really late.”
Ty smiled and said, “Gregg wakes up every day at seven fifteen on the button. You could set your clock by him. If he went to bed at seven fourteen, he'd be up at seven fifteen.”
Heather said, “Really?”
“Yeah, watch the clock and you'll see. I could tell you more, but it'd get personal.”
She smiled and said, “Tell me!”
“No, you'll learn it. It's funny how methodical he is. He's always that way.
Every day, he'll get up go to the bathroom, turn on the light, turn on the water, and then go pee. Then, he'll wash his hands turn OFF the water, open the medicine cabinet, get out his toothbrush, turn ON the water, rinse the brush, Turn OFF the water, and then put the toothpaste on. He'll then turn ON the water and brush his teeth. Then, he'll put water in his mouth to rinse and then turn OFF the water.
One day, for like the twentieth day in a row, I said, “Gregg, why do you let the water run while you brush your teeth?” He had nerve enough to tell me he didn't. He says he saves water. I say he wears out a faucet.”
Heather laughed and said, “Yeah, and you know he never shuts a door when he pees, but will lock it when he does anything else in there?”
Ty laughed and said, “Heather, he'll never use air freshener or the exhaust fan either. He used to kill me.”
We all laughed and Heather said, “Coffee's made. I brought it down and it's in your office.”
“Ok, I was teaching Ty the way it's done.”
She took a look and said, “That one curtain over there needs adjusted.”
I said, “Ty, Heather's done this to the point she can do it in her sleep, but do you think she'd take the test to be a Funeral Director? Oh no....”
“I don't want to be a funeral director, and besides you've got one now.”
She smiled and I felt her hug Ty. He hugged her back.
We broke apart and she said, “Did you see that one in there from Mitch?”
“Yeah, it's beautiful. I was so amazed I took a photo of it.”
She smiled and whispered to Ty, “I took five of them and they're already on his hard drive.”
He chuckled and said, “You two.”
She said, “Well, I know him and you will too, hon.”
He smiled and said, “How many bodies in a night is normal?”
She looked at him and said, “One at the most, why?”
He held up four fingers.
She looked at us and asked, “Did you guys get any sleep?”
Ty shrugged and I said, “Hon, this afternoon, we'll take a nap.”
She looked at me and said, “Then, you've not seen the post-it?”
“Mitch called and said he thinks with the number of people, we should start the visitation at one pm.”
“Oh, well Ty, come here and I'll show you a trick.”
She smiled and said, “Ty, he only shows this to you and me, so go, because I never thought he'd show anyone other than me.”
“What is it?”
“Well, he'll show you. You'll be amazed.”
We went into the office and I went over to the panel where the Plasma was located. I said, “Ty, come here.”
He came over and I said, See that brass frog?”
“Well, push it back an inch but be standing over here when you do.”
He came over to the side and pushed the frog, the panel and the fireplace folded down and the Murphy bed was exposed.
“Yeah, when I come in here and I'm gone for fifteen minutes, and the door's locked, I'll be in here getting a nap.”
“A fifteen minute nap?”
Heather smiled and said, “Ty, you'll see him sleep and then you'll see him up and you'll wonder how he does it. Now, you know.
My advice is to get the sleep when he does because he's went several weeks just on about two hours a day with those naps. When we were putting this place together, he did it and you'd never see him sleeping. He's showing the trick to you and believe me, that man can sleep so still he won't get a wrinkle in a suit.”
He looked at me and said, “How?”
I said, “Watch this. I lay down and put my fists against my hip bones and roll over on my stomach. Then, I don't move. It's something about having your fists against your hip bones and you don't move.”
“Doesn't that hurt?”
“No, but what someone told me once is if you do that and you're on a ledge, you can sleep and never roll off.
Since then, when I'm down here, I don't get undressed. I just take my jacket off and I lay down. For me, I've gotten myself trained to wake up in fifteen minutes. So, when we're really busy, I come in here and I nap.”
“So you want me to nap?”
“If you want, but that's what I'll have to do today. We didn't get much sleep.”
“So that's how you were able to go forever on Sunday?”
“Yeah, I had a little sleep, so I was good to go for a while. Then, when we came to the house, I was going to nap, but then we got involved with making breakfast and we never got it done.”
He smiled and said, “Heather, do you eat everything he eats in the morning?”
“No, if I did, I'd weigh a ton. He puts it away, but over there in that fridge is salad makings, so he eats that for lunch.”
“Where's the fridge?”
She went over and opened the panel behind the desk. He turned to me and smiled, “You've got this place jacked!”
“Well, I had to think of places to put things I wanted in here and I wanted it to be nice. Origionally, before I did the room upstairs, I had the office and as money came in, I finished it.”
He smiled and said, “So, what did this place really cost if you did it as you went?”
“Between three and four million. Nothing over that.”
He nodded, “So, what's the one in Quincy going to cost?”
“Ty, we'll build the shell and then we'll run one side. The business isn't going to be real busy right off. So, we'll do it as we go.”
He shook his head no and said, “Babe, you're not getting the big picture. You're open here and this place is already at where you need to be for the year and it's only the second month, so you're doing at least six bodies a month and then, you're going to be opening up there and you'll catch on fast up there. You won't have time!”
“Hon, the first year that place is open, I doubt if we do ten bodies. Do you realize I've not done a hundred here yet?”
“How long you been open?”
“Let's see, the first year, I was open seven months and did four bodies. The next, I did ten bodies. Last year, I did fifty eight and this one, I've got sixteen now.”
He looked at me and said, “Ok, year one, you did four and year two, you did two and a half times that, year three, you did five and a half times that, so this year, you're possibly looking at least a hundred bodies, but more like closer to one hundred and fifty.”
I said, “Now, you want to see how I'm looking at it?”
“Year one, loss and minus thirteen. Year two, loss and minus twenty. Year three, gain, plus twenty one.”
“As I said, It takes seventeen a year to break even. So, you've got to take those from the ones done.
Year one was four so that's minus thirteen. That has to carry over so that's minus thirty for the beginning of the year. I did ten, so that's a minus twenty plus that minus seventeen, so that's minus thirty seven for the year beginning last year. I did fifty eight, so I'm plus twenty one.”
“And what logic is that?”
“That's called accounting, hon. The banker doesn't care what you've done, he wants that check each month.
If it hadn't been for some good predictive calculations, I'd be bankrupt. So, now, we're looking at a population of three times where we are.
You've got three more funeral homes over there so per capita, you've got one per ten thousand. Yay rah, but when I come in, it'll make it one per like eighty five hundred. It's still better than here, but two of the funeral homes here haven't been around for a hundred years. Over there, you've got three which have, so you've got to consider that into the equation.
They're tying up probably fifteen thousand per home, so that leaves four to take that other business.”
“But ours will be bigger and nicer.”
“Yeah, but if they don't come in the door, they won't see that. So the projected six million I've figured is going to take probably ten years to make back before we break even and then, it'll need a remodel.”
“So what are you telling me, here?”
“I'm saying that it's a risk and it's worth it, but I don't want you to think we're going to go in there and be busy immediately.
Heather can tell you how many nights, I'd pace the floor in here wondering if I was going to go broke.
That's the honest reason I didn't take my brothers when I had the chance. They thought I didn't want them, but I thought they had a home and they had s roof over their head and I was wondering if I was going to be funeral homeless.”
“Oh man, so they were thinking you had a nice funeral home and could take them and the state was thinking you should take them, and you were facing the reality you knew you had.”
“Yeah and I'll tell you it's right now that I'm just now seeing some daylight. And, you want to know something, Ty? That house out there was bought, paid for, and put together by all the free hours here. Heather can tell you what I asked for for my birthday from her.
One year, I asked for a door for the kitchen, the other, I asked for the medicine cabinet upstairs in the bathroom. For Christmas, she gave me the sliding french doors, so I put it together a piece at a time and it stayed stacked in the basement here for a long while because I didn't have the money to get the basement dug.
It wasn't until last year, that I got it dug and it wasn't until really last Summer that I got it all done on the outside. If you see the garage, you see it's incomplete and that's because I've not had the time.”
Ty smiled and said, “Oh man, I'm sorry.”
“I came in and immediately asked what you wanted. I didn't mean to criticize it.”
“Oh hon, I didn't take it that way.
Heather will tell you I tell her what else I want to do to things. You see the limos don't match and the pallbearer limo is a heap in my opinion, but it's what I've pieced together. She'll tell you how proud I am of it and she'll also tell you how much of a dream it's been.”
“So, where'd you get the origional money for the down payment?”
Heather sat at the desk and said, “Ty, let me tell you because he won't tell you everything.
He began carrying newspapers when he was ten years old. He had a ratty three speed bike that the first two gears were stripped out of it. That thing was so hard to pedal, you'd think his ass would be the size of beach balls right now, but he pedaled it all over these hills for seven miles a day.
Then, in the Summer time, he'd go mow yards and trim hedges until he looked like he was one solid scab from all the scratches. In the Winter, on days off from school, he went out and shoveled snow until he was blue and then bought a sled so he could pull the newspaper bag.
When he was thirteen, he got a job as a car hop and still kept the paper route and the mowings, and the snowings, and ate left overs off peoples plates so he'd have a decent meal.
He hid that money in a can over under my back porch and when he got a hundred dollars together, he'd go buy a bond and then he'd give it to me and I'd put it in my Bible.
By then, he was with Tony and he'd go do all that and be home by ten and in bed and then, he'd go out his bedroom window across the back porch and go out with him.
Tony bought him clothes, but Tony wouldn't give him a damned dime. Until he was seventeen, I never saw him get himself a thing that didn't have to be replaced like tires on that damned bike. He'd come home crying when he'd have a flat tire, but he had a box of patches and he'd patch it and never once would he take and use my bike.
Only once, did he ever buy himself anything he wanted and that was a pair of red pants. He wore them once and they were terrible. They ripped not in the seam, but down the back of the leg where pants shouldn't tear.
You want to talk about someone that cried, you talk about those red pants and I cry for him because I know what they meant to him for him to come off the money to do it.
Then, when Tony started manipulating him, Tony bought him cars. Yeah, they were 'vettes, but that first one was a pile of shit I think someone should have painted lemon yellow because it was that big of a lemon.
Did he bitch? No, he went out and worked for the parts and he rebuilt that car and just about the time he had it to where it was running decent, the asshole came and told him to trade it. So, it started all over with the gray ghost. I call it the gray ghost because that's where the money went with the damned thing.
Parts, labor and two months later, the same fucking parts would break. So, he gets it running and then, Tony decided he wanted him to move in with him.
Oh, Tony can't have a shitty car out front, so he finally bought him a decent car. Then, you know what? The cocksucker goes and blows his brains out and the fucking family took the God damned car.
So, when you want to know where the down payment came from, it came from my Bible where he'd worked and saved until he should have been dead.”
Ty sat down and I could tell he was crying. I went over and said, “Ty, I wouldn't have told you a bit of that. It's too painful.
No, life's not been fun, but you know what? It's getting better and it's coming around.
I've got you and I've got this place and I've got a girl there who loves me as my best friend and I might have a family if they'd just see I didn't do what I did to make them hate me. But, still, I might face that rejection.
So, I suck it up and I try to act like it doesn't bug me. Yeah, money's nice, but Ty, I've been there. I know the pain and I know the hurt when it comes to living without. So, we live without and we get a little ahead.
Believe me, if you asked me if getting my goals would get me there faster if I ate another pancake and I'll tell you I'd eat a mountain of them, but hopefully, it won't come to that.”
He looked up and said, “I'm so sorry, Lance.”
“Nothing to be sorry for, hon, you didn't do a thing.”
“No, but I didn't know.”
“You weren't told. Now you know, so what's going to change. We'll make it.”
He pulled back from me and said, “You do love me.”
“Yeah and you know what?”
“You're way better than Tony.”
He smiled and said, “Thanks”
Heather said, “On your worst day. I like you. Now, ask me if I liked that asshole.”
Ty chuckled and I said, “Heather, I love you, sis.”
She came running over and said, “Hon, I love you, too. You be good to him because he's a keeper. I wouldn't tell you if he wasn't. I don't varnish shit and call it a boyfriend.”
Ty was still hugging her and began really laughing hard. “Tell me how you really feel!”
She laughed and said, “If you don't know by now, you should guess I wasn't a member of that fan club. Yeah, Tony was pretty, but pretty goes in front of a lot of adjectives I could use for him. Pretty awful, pretty shitty, pretty cheap, and pretty fucking childish. You, hon, you're a stud and ask me what a stud goes in front of?”
“Me if he's straight. My Lance if he's gay. Guess which one you are?”
He laughed and said, “Well, I'm glad.”
“Me too. Now, go over and take a nap, he knew better than to have you out running all over last night.”
I swear, she took him over and tucked him in.
She turned around to me and said, “Now, at eight am, we're going to have the front doors open and everyone's coming over and they're going to find a place for all those flowers to go. I have no clue, but what I suggest is when they get to be too many, you take them outside and you line the sidewalks with them and lay them out across the front yard. All this money for flowers and you know how many live plants in the whole bunch?”
“How many and where they at?”
“That's what I'm asking because they sure aren't here!”
“Oh man! Well, go in and call the florist and order four of them.”
“Not yet, hon. If they're not here by three pm, I'll do it.”
For me, a live plant means a lot more to the family than cut flowers for a funeral.
One thing you'll never see me doing is ordering cut flowers. A live plant lasts forever if it's given what it needs and years later, it can be viewed and still be remembered from the funeral whence it came.
My reason for ordering four was for Ty, Gregg, Mitch, and Joan. Each would have it to remember Wendy and each would have it years later. Yes, the spray Mitch sent will be in everyone's memories forever, but everyone else's would be history as soon as the funeral was over.
Speaking of flowers, I had no idea how it'd ever be done when the funeral was over. I immediately said, “Heather, start calling churches and offering the flowers for their services. We've got to get rid of these things.”
She smiled and said, “Hon, I've already crossed that bridge. Joan knows of a girl who's getting married in a church on Saturday and she's offered to take the flowers.
The jokes kind of on her because she said she'd take them all. What Joan and I'll do is we're going to pull the roses from the arrangements and we're going to make long continuous chains of roses. There has to be a hundred thousand of the things here.”
“Easily. Jerad, up at HyVee said he was scouring the entire midwest for pink roses. I can now understand.”
She smiled and said, “You know what?”
“If she wanted a fairy princess funeral, she sure got one. And, you gave her that.”
“Yeah, but from now on, I'm not going to ask for all one flower.”
“Yes you will. The one thing that will be the trademark of this funeral is everyone walking away and wondering how many pink roses there were. Also, one thing you might note is Mitch's paid for advertising to thank you publicly for the wonderful services and suggesting the funeral being a pink rose funeral, so you get the public acknowledgement.
When the press shows this on the news, everyone's going to say, “Man, what a funeral! and then, they'll see the ads and you'll get the credit.”
“Well, I'm not all about that, but what I'm excited about is all the people who will get in to see the home and will know what it looks like.”
“Yeah, if they can see it under all the flowers.”
“Yeah, but I guess it's a give and take.”
She then turned to me and said, “Now, you want some possible bad news?”
“Ok, tell me.”
“Take a look at this and then you'll see.”
She punched weather.com into the computer and said, “It's forecasted to be the storm of the year up to a foot of snow and possibly a lot of ice under that all starting sometime tonight after ten pm.”
“Well, we have a good visitation and a poor turn out for the funeral.”
“Yeah, but Mitch has spoken to the television people and he's offered to pay them for the funeral service being broadcast if you'll allow the cameras in.”
“Oh man, you know how I feel about that!”
“Yeah, now is it worth flagging a little for your mother in law?”
“Oh sis, if it were your mother.”
She smiled and said, “Hon, it's his mom and you love him.”
“I know, but I didn't even know her.”
“Well, get to know her and give it up.”
“Do you know what the cameras will do? We'll have to have bright lights and we'll have to have the infrared down and the possibility of a light popping will set the acrylic down and all their power equipment on the home's grid will fuck up computers so no video surveillance and.....”
She smiled and said, “Sometimes, you have to be nudged so gently and other times, you go kicking and screaming.”
“Well....any other bad news?”
“Ok, just kill me and get it over with.”
She laughed and said, “We're renting four hundred folding chairs.”
“Where the hell are you going to put them?”
“Well, if the snow doesn't happen, people are going to turn out and we'll have the rotunda and we'll have the upstairs sitting room.”
“Do you think that many will turn out?”
“Hon, she employed over two hundred guys. That means whole families and then you've got every bar, tavern, and restaurant in the area that served beer. So, you tell me? If you knew the dragon was dead, wouldn't you want to see who the prince was?”
“Oh man, rent up a thousand and a p.a. system and a heatting unit. That means visitation before the funeral.”
“Where the hell?”
“The garage. We can file them past the casket, out the side door and into the garage. There's a sixty by eighty out there that should hold another four hundred to six hundred people at least.”
She smiled and said, “And, I wondered why you built such a big garage. You had it planned all along!”
“No, honestly, sis, it just came to me. We can back the hearse up to the garage door and we can have the limos backed in too.
Then, if we need the Escalade for it's four wheel drive abilities, we can back it in and carry the casket in it. I have no idea if Mitch wants everyone to follow to the crematorium, or not, but if not, we're fine. If so, then we'll have to be prepared.”
She smiled and said, “You sure don't like doing anything where you're not prepared.”
“Well hon, everyone expects perfection and they expect me to have a quality funeral. I can have that when six hundred show up and I can even have it when seven fifty show up, but throw two thousand at me and it's standing room only and not a person sits. So, we throw seats out and now, I'm wishing I had indoor outdoor and video for the garage.”
She smiled and said, “Hon, how much does a plasma cost like yours at home?”
“I don't know, I got mine on ebay.”
“Well, go home and put the plasma in the truck and then hook it into the cable television upstairs and when the show goes live on television, you just have them watch television.”
“You know that would work. It's small, but it'd work.”
“How much does a big plasma cost up at Circuit City?”
“I don't know, ten grand?”
“Go get it and then you'll have it.”
I looked at her like, where the hell do you think the money's going to come from and realized we had money in the bank.
She smiled and said, “It's hard getting used to the fact you've got it, isn't it.”
“Yeah, it's rather embarrassing too, because I know I still don't want to spend it.”
“He loves you and he knows you'll love him until the day you die. So, if he can drop a hundred grand for you a car, then he'll drop that for a video system.”
“He paid what for that car!”
“Hon, he loves you and don't you say a thing about the money he spent. He did it because he loves you and he knows you'd cherish it.”
“I love that car. You don't know how much I've fantasized about having a car like that, but hon. For me, it's always been about utility and getting the most out of everything and every dollar. It's pure extravagance and ....and.....and.....”
Tears came and she came around and hugged me. She stood me up and said, “It's good to have tears of joy, isn't it.”
“Oh man, I just don't feel worthy.”
“You are and he knows it.”
“Look at him. He's the best. I look at him and think to myself, how did I ever get so lucky and when's the dream going to wake up....and, when's this whole damned dream going to wake up. Yeah, I bitch, but you know what? I'm so very fortunate, I don't feel worthy.”
“Look at me, I say the same thing. I've got a man upstairs who wants to be the father to my children and I've got you who wants to be friends forever and I've got parents that love me. I give thanks every day.
But, you know what? I know his eye roves and I know I give patience and I know his loyalty is going to come. With him, things have to be earned and you know why I think his eye roves? Because he doesn't trust I'll be there or that I'll not turn into the wicked witch, but when he sees my sexy ass in a bathing suit diving into your pool, he's not going to hear me screaming that I'm melting.”
I laughed and said, “No, that's the icicles that will be hanging off his balls because they'll be so blue. He's a horn dog.”
“Yeah, and you know what? I am too when it comes to his little sexy body. That guy takes his clothes off and I'm like in the shower with him and we're drying each other and we're just having sex everywhere.”
“Well, here's what we're coming up with too. One night a week, you and Ty are getting the 3B's and you won't believe it, but he does like the name Bridgett!”
I laughed and said, “Well, now we got to get him sold on Biff and Bub”
“You sell it because you know what name I wanted.”
“Well, you know what nicknames the boys are getting and if you have three boys, I'm sorry sis but I'm not calling one Bridgett.”
She laughed and said, “No, We'll call him Ben...”
“No, ain't no kid going to be called Ben because then kids at school will call him Ben Had”
“Ok, well, we'll call him Benji.”
“Why don't you teach the kid Jujitsu while he's in the crib because he'll sure need it.”
Gregg came in and I said, “Well good morning!”
He smiled and said, “You two hang onto each other more than I've seen anyone.”
“Ah, come here, we learned something with your brother this morning”
He came over and I said, “Step in here stud, See we can do this with three.”
“Is that minty fresh breath.”
“Why you wanna kiss?”
“Her first and I'll laugh.”
“Twerp told you my routine didn't he!”
“Yeah, and I do think you waste the water.”
He smiled and said, “No, he says I do, but have you ever seen him cook? I tell you. If you think I've got a routine, watch him in the kitchen. He'll lay the bread down, and then he'll butter it. Now, you can't hold it and butter it. It has to be laying flat on the table. It's the same way with peanut butter. Just watch him! It will drive you insane!”
She smiled and said, “I know someone that will drive you worse the way he cooks. That guy is worse than Julia Childs when it comes to messing up dishes in a kitchen and never mind just using Ajax, he has to have Ammonia with it. The stuff will eat the skin off your hands but he has to have the dishes clean.”
He looked at me and said, “I bet you two get along great in the kitchen, don't you.”
“Well, I'm training him to eat breakfast.”
“Oh man, don't give him a pop tart. Have you seen him eat pop tarts?
He will eat all the edges and then split it in half with his tongue and then lick the inside out and then nibble...not bite it left to right top then bottom first. Take away the top, he'll throw a fit and throw away the bottom. It's like he just can't eat the bottom.”
I laughed and said, “Well, he's a good bottom eater.”
Gregg looked at me and said, “Ok....I know I didn't want to hear that...but Ok, I'll say he's graduated and hope you're referring to pop tarts.”
“Lance, I've not had breakfast this morning and you're trying to make me toss cookies.”
“Well, you need to get a show on because your dad wants the visitation to start at one and I need you to drive to Quincy for me in that big bad truck you got.”
“You got to go to Circuit City and get the big plasma they've got and get it back here.”
“With what money?”
“Well, I'll give you a check.”
“Oh ok, you gonna buy gas, that truck doesn't run for free you know!”
“No, you pay for that with your looks. I know if you can't get a feeeeeel up, then take your brother, I'd feel him up any day.”
Heather smiled and said, “Lance, remind your brother -n-law he's got money now.”
Gregg smiled and said, “Oh yeah....sorry Lance, it's hard to remember.”
“I know, I did it myself earlier. While you're at it, I'll need you to go by Lowes and get some of those tank type LP furnaces and about six of the tanks.”
“Well, we're kind of throwing a funeral and someone didn't ask me how many to invite. SO, rather than six hundred showing up, we're probably going to have at least two thousand.”
“Oh man, you got room?”
“Yeah, we're going to put them in the rotunda, in the sitting room upstairs and the garage. We'll put the plasma out in the garage so the people out there can watch the service.”
“What are the people in the rotunda and upstairs going to watch?”
“Nothing, they'll listen to the in house speakers.”
He looked at me and said, “So, if given the choice of being bored out of my skull and listening to a funeral, or being bored out of my skull, and watching a funeral service, I think I'd watch.”
“You got a front row seat. You don't get to sit anywhere else.”
“Well, I'll buy three plasmas and six lp heaters and eighteen tanks. Anything else?”
“Yeah, a bank to put the money in because you need it.”
He smiled and said, “Brother, don't mess with me. Do you realize how much interest we're making on that money each day?”
“No, let me figure. Fifty times....roughly about a thousand a day.”
“Refigure, you left out a zero or two.”
“Five percent interest on fifty mil is two and a half mil. Divide that by three sixty five and you get....oh, more like seven thousand.”
“Ok, so that's still not much.”
“That's per day and that's just interest. If I spend into the real money, then I've still got money. Now, my advice is to take the money he offers you and pay everything off. He's been really worried you wouldn't.”
Heather smiled and said, “Gregg, Ty got told this morning about his past and how hard he stretches a dollar.
By the time I was done, Ty was feeling bad. Lance knows he loves him and he loves him back, but Lance doesn't want to waste Ty's money. So, I think they're going to take it a day at a time and get the things they need and wait on everything else.”
Gregg looked at me and said, “Take it. He loves you and it'll break his heart if you don't. You two are a couple and I want to see my other in laws. He's thinking you are ashamed of him meeting your brothers.”
“No, it's not that. I want to make sure I'm financially stable.”
“Well, you are now, so get on the stick and get them.”
He smiled and said, “Now that this discussion is over, let's move onto some other business.”
“Dad's money. Altogether, we've got seventy million between us after dad offers the fifty for the one in Quincy. Figure dad uses one for Kirksville and you and he use ten up in Quincy and here, we're still going to have that sixty million laying around. Ty says White Castles and hotels. Personally, I'd rather see a bunch of my money in little castles than big hotels. The money makes sense and it also makes sense on income. So, think of someone we can have to oversee the operation of about twenty million worth of the restaurants.”
“Yeah, what do you expect, me to sit around?”
“Well, no, but who?”
“Not happening. Aunt Joan would have a stroke if Jake didn't finish college.”
“Your aunt Joan's already said Jake can do what he wants.”
“Yeah, she wants him happy and isn't going to impose her hopes upon him. Now, Jake's different, and I'll admit that, but underneath, he's smart as a whip.”
Gregg smiled and said, “He says Jakes 'different'.”
“Well he is.”
“Brother brother brother....you don't know him.”
“Ok, tell me what I'm missing?”
“First of all, Jakes introverted. Whereas other people act outwardly, Jakes the one that stops and says, “I wonder what makes that person tick inside and makes them act outwardly. Then, he does the writing. And then, he'll do the acting.
Yeah, I understand the acting getting on a peson's nerves, but I bet if I asked him to do a stand up monologue tomorrow for three hours, he'd stand up and do it and without looking at a book or cheat sheet, he'd tell three hours of origional jokes and you'd laugh your ass off.
He's a gifted comedian and although it's a different kind of humor, you'll see he really takes the time to see how a person ticks and then goes for the jugular with it.”
“So, now, I'm going to ask you and maybe you can help me here. Why the hell hasn't someone told him about his physical appearance?”
“They let him be him.”
“He's a babe Gregg and he's like if Heather decided to be a librarian and hid it under a gray skirt and black thick rimmed glasses.
“Oooh babe, can I check out your......books? Do you have any under the subject........naughty? That'd be right before the subject.......nasty.” he started nibbling her neck
I chuckled and Heather smiled. She said, “Gregg, not here, Lance would get turned off and Ty would wake up thinking he was having a nightmare.”
“What's he doing still sleeping?”
“We were up all night.”
“Oh, checking out your own books?!”
“No, we spent it out getting bodies in. Usually, we have one at the most a night and last night, we got four in.”
“Oh, well, that's what he wants to do.”
“I think he got a crash course last night. He held up good, but I think the being up to his ankles deep in mud and blood was about too much for him.”
“What the hell?!”
“A semi hauling hogs turned over and the driver tried to bale. Unfortunately, the truck rolled on top of him.”
“Oh man, that had to have hurt.”
“No, but when they pulled the truck up, the man kind of stuck to the truck. It wasn't pretty.”
Heather scrunched her face and Gregg started making lurching sounds.
She chuckled and said, “Gregg, if you think that's bad, you ought to have been with us the time we....”
He said, “No more war stories. I can't understand how you can do it in the first place, but if that's what he wants, he'll learn to do it. Man, I'd be out gagging up my toenails.”
I looked at Heather and said, “And you say he's a breeder, I bet he'll gag at baby poop.”
Gregg said, “Guys, I can't take anymore. Stop!”
He pulled away from us and started to laugh. Look at baby brother over there with his ass in the air.”
“Gregg, I taught him to sleep that way.”
“Lucky you. Teach her how to sleep that way.”
“I told her, she chooses to sleep like she's making snow angels.”
“You know, that's exactly how she sleeps! I get an inch and she gets the rest of a king size bed!”
“That's why I got a king sized bed. We used to share and believe me, sharing with her isn't sharing. It's hard to sleep on the SIDE of a mattress”
“You're right! I reach over to grab to keep from sliding off and she's like, “Oh baby, you want some more! Come to mama!”
He laughed and said, “See what you missed by not reaching out Lance!”
She laughed and said, “Only for you babe, come on over here”
He smiled and said, “Ok”
I went over and opened up the utility closet and found the Kleenex. I began to distribute boxes to pews that had none. There's usually a box per pew, but I wanted at least three boxes per pew. It might have been a waste, but it was good for a turn out.
After getting the Kleenex handled, I then took Soft Soap to the bathrooms. I wanted at least two bottles per lavatory and plenty of toilet paper so absolutely none of our guest attendees ran low.
On the way out of the restrooms, I flipped the infrared switches so the toilets would be warmed. One item I did note were the flowers in the restrooms. Joan had done her magic and everything looked wonderful.
When I got back downstairs, Ty was awake and said he was going to go upstairs and take a shower. I told him where the towels were and he groggily mosied his way upstairs.
Gregg asked me what else needed completed and I asked him to go please spread ice melt upon the sidewalks It may not snow, or it may, but I wanted no accidents to happen.
He went and did it and when he came back in, he said a light which lit the building was out and asked where I kept the extras. I showed him the cabinet in the garage and told him how to unscrew the bulbs. He went to take care of it and while I was out in the garage, I noted the measurements of gasoline in each tank. The limo needed fuel and the flower truck needed to be run. It started rough, but when it had been run recently, it started like a breeze.
Gregg came back in while I was attempting to start the flower truck and noted I needed a glow plug or more for the diesel engine. He said if I wanted, he'd get them and have them installed. I told him to go ahead and he asked if he could drive it out to get the plugs. He smiled and said, “When I come back, I'll bring breakfast for us, what do you want?”
“Get about six dozen donuts of various assortments and be sure to get Ty some orange juice.”
He laughed and said, “He'll drink you out of house and home with orange juice, anything else?”
“One second, let's see if anyone wants anything else?”
We went in and Heather was on the phone. One of the families of the decedents from last night had called and wanted to come by this morning to prepare their funeral.
I nodded to her and she told them to come when they were able but we were having a funeral, so things would be a bit busy up front. She told them to come to the side door which entered into the office.
Ty came back downstairs and I told him to prepare to get ready to do prep for a funeral. He looked excited and I remembered feeling the same when I was first starting. While he got ready, I asked him, “Do you want to be introduced as Ty or Tyson?”
“Tell them to call me Ty. But introduce me first as Tyson. It'll give it informality.”
“Ok, babe, do you think you can handle this?”
“If you're there.”
“Ok, now don't feel offended if I step into the conversation.”
“I won't. I think as I get more used to the way things are done, I'll catch on. Now, what is the name of the deceased?”
“Her name is Grace. Refer to her by her first name until we know if she went by any other names. Some older people you'll find have gotten divorced years ago and they've been referred to by another name for quite a while.
Also, some have been married and when they go back to their families after the death of a spouse, they retake their maiden name even though all their identification states they are still the other name. I'll forwarn you now because one whole funeral prep one time, I called the woman by her name on her driver's license. You want to talk about feeling like an idiot, but I learned and if I can save you the embarrassment, I will.'
“You look like a million bucks, love.”
“You do as always.”
“Well, you do too, but when you get into the suit, your eyes really stand out and others might think your hair a bit long, but I absolutely love the way it feathers out behind your ears.”
He smiled and said, “You'll have all day to stop making me feel so special.”
“No, I'll stop at the end of the next lifetime.”
He smiled and said, “Ok, we'll sign on for that one too?”
“Good, saves me the hassle of doing it wrong again.”
“It took Him to make me look so good, so thank Him on my behalf.”
We checked each other's suits and I will note here he was dressed in his gray with a blue button down and I was dressed in my black with gray button down and darker gray satin tie. His tie was burgundy which looked wonderful. He looked down at his shoes and said, “They look good?”
“Yeah, let me show you a trick.”
Over here in this closet is where we keep your top coat and mine. Down at the bottom is a shoe polisher. It's automatic and all you have to do is stick your toe under the brush and it polishes it.”
“Why do you have it?”
“Gregg just used ice melt. As we greet, some will pull up in their vehicles. We go out and open the door for the women and I don't know how it occurs, but when you come in, your shoes will look like you dusted them with the stuff out there.”
He smiled and said, “Details again.”
“Yeah, you'll learn the details we take care of, and if you see any which I don't cover, please let me know because I'll certainly start doing it.”
He said, That fireplace over there isn't lit.”
“We need to put those things on auto timers.”
“I'll put that on a list for us to pick up.”
“Gregg's going to Lowes this morning and to Circuit City. Is it ok if he picks up some plasmas?”
He looked at me with arched eyebrows. “What for?”
“Oh, you didn't hear?”
“Heather said your dad's having visitation at one pm and we're now expecting about two thousand for the service and both local channels are carrying the service live.
The main chapel will hold six hundred and we're putting seats out here in the rotunda and up in the sitting room. Then, out in the garage, we're going to set up about six hundred chairs.”
“Yeah, so what I'm having Gregg do, with your permission is pick up three plasmas at Circuits City. One for the sitting room upstairs, and one for out here in the rotunda and one for out back. I figure we can wire into the cable television system and they can watch it on those.”
“Good idea, but get him to get some stereo units so it doesn't sound like all the sounds coming from up front. I don't want someone ruining it for others by constantly repeating, “What did he say?”
“Ok, now, out in the garage, we're getting six lp heaters and we're going to start today heating that space. There's an ice storm and a huge snowfall predicted for the weather tomorrow, and we might have a lot of people or we might not.”
“You're leaving the limos out?”
“Oooh, bad idea. That's going to be terrible for the finish.”
“The garage doors can't be flagged”
“I know, is there some way we can cover them?”
“I don't have covers. The only way I can see for us to do it is to put them in the garage at home and it'd be a tight fit for the pallbearer car to fit in there.”
“Let me ask dad if we can put them in the building out at the beer house. There's plenty of space out there.'
“Ty, that's the problem. This storm is supposed to come in after ten pm tonight and they don't know if it's going to be ice or snow.”
“Oh, so if it's ice, we'll be hurting.”
“Yeah, but with a foot of snow, we'll be hurting too.”
“Well, thank goodness we'll be having the television broadcasting.”
“You didn't sound like you were happy about that.”
“I'm not. It's not a good idea, but there's nothing I could do. Your dad wanted it.”
“What's wrong with it?”
“Well, visitation is brightly lit. You'll see how bright it will look. Right now, in there, you'll see it looks normal, but for some reason, the gloss finish on the casket will really reflect the lights. It's like putting a big mirror up there.”
“The funeral is supposed to be more somberly lit. For television cameras to see everything, we're going to have to keep everything on bright. To me, a bright funeral just screams, “Welcome To McDonald's” as it's that bright.”
“So, maybe it's personal preference, but I like to create mood with the lighting”
“Now, what we've got to do is ask your dad if he wants a procession to Quincy to the creamtorium. Some people do and some don't.”
“Ooh, I'll vote no. First of all, I don't want to think about that, and second of all, if the weather's bad, we've got a huge headache. What would we do if we have a lot of snow?”
“Well, plans change and the hearse is out. We call in the Escalade and we go four wheeling.
Now, the limos and the pallbearer limo will be fine, but what I do is I call Chris down at the city snow barn and I ask ever so politely if he'll hop in a truck and blade in front of us all the way to the city limits. Then, I call Jack over at Illinois DoT and ask him to have a snow plow to go in front of us there. They'll take us on into the grave yard there where the crematorium is.”
“Ok, that's a plan, but what if the cemetary there isn't plowed.”
“Well, the thing there is it'll be plowed because if need be, I pay to plow it.”
“Wow, lot of prep work huh?”
“Yeah, but as you can see, it's been done before.”
“So, what are the favors these guys call in?”
“You had to ask. What I do is I remember wives and their birthdays and I remember anniversaries and I remember Christmas. They get steak dinners and, they get things we can write off.
Now, off the record, I'll tell you for Christmas, Jack gets a cow from a butcher shop over at Golden, Illinois. He's got like upteen kids at home and I know it means a lot to him.
Chris over here is also the guy who cleans the gutters here and he does various paint jobs for me. He's super skilled with a paint brush. Your dad might look at him to paint lettering on trucks. Also Bill out at the snow barn and another guy with the name Brian Davis both are our yard men. They do it reasonable and they do it fast.
And, one thing they do which really got them the job for life is they clean up after themselves. We had another crew that charged four times as much that sprayes clippings and trimmings all over the sidewalk and street and didn't clean up a thing. After the second time, I began to look for someone else. I called around and on a whim asked Chris. He told me about them, and they were starting a yard care service, so I tried them. You'd be amazed at how cheap they do it and they do it year round.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, if it snows, I'll tell you now, Bill will be out there in his personal truck blading the parking lot for us. He also does the streets all the way to the curbs around here so no one slips.”
“Yeah, Bill's someone who pays attention to the details like you wouldn't believe. He runs a weedeater like a champ, but as you know, we've got video out there all over the place. What you'll see is he has a piece of pipe which is on a pole he carries with him and it' goes over the ground cameras before he weedeats.”
“Yeah, I'm impressed with Bill.”
“I thought you said he had a partner he did things with.”
“Yeah I did and I also made reference to being impressed with Bill.”
“Yeah, one thing you'll see is Bill has a partner and Bill does a lot of the work by himself. But, Bill splits that money with the partner. Now, ask me how long I'd have a partner like that?”
“I'm hearing you loud and clear. He puts up with it?”
“Bill's a sweetheart. He keeps his word and I admire him.”
“He had to have made an impression for you to go on about him like you do.”
“Let me say this and then you'll know what I think about him. If he was gay, I'd not been looking when I found you. I'd already had him and would have done everything it took to keep him.”
“He a babe?”
“Oh yeah. You can definitely look at that one for hours and not get bored. And when he comes up and talks, he's so sweet and those baby blue and dimples rival yours. His butt's a bit more bubbled, but the man's definitely nice.”
He chuckled and said, “I feel a little jealous.”
“I won't be jealous at all if you look at him because I'll probably be looking over your shoulder.”
He laughed and said, “You're terrible!”
“No, he knows what I think of him. He eats it up like candy.”
“Yeah, and when I introduce you to his wife, you'll be blown away because she's his ideal.”
“Yeah, She works out at WalGreen's That woman will run her tail all over the place making sure you're happy.”
“Don't tell me you went looking for her to see if she was good enough for him.”
“Oh no. What's funny is I met her before I did him and it was hilarious because she's so sweet that when I met him, I asked him if he was single so I could set them up. They're that right for each other.”
“Why do all the guys on the city work at other jobs?”
“Now, that's the million dollar question because I don't know.”
“I do know what they make and for around here, they're making more than they would if they worked at a factory. What I think is they have that much of a work ethic.”
“Man, that's got to be an awesome crew.”
“Yeah, now you want a bit of gossip?”
“Chris is a real sweetheart. I'll tell you that all day long. Their dad is too. The man is just awesome and has been since I was little. Chris was older than me by a couple of years and he has a brother, Dean.
Now, Dean, I won't give you a penny for. He's not my favorite person and how he managed to come from that family, I'll never know because they have a baby sister who's just awesome friendly.”
“How'd you know them?”
“Well, in the middle school, I was manager of the basketball team. To be honest, the only reason I did it was the basketball team got three pair of shoes free. So, I did it for the shoes.
That's how I knew Dean.
Chris, he was older and I don't know how, but in high school, I had class after class with Chris. What's interesting is we had an electicity class together and in it, we learned about all sorts of circuits and stuff that you'd not think of.
One thing we did in there for projects was we got to order things from Heath which we made. I made a strobe light which I still have in my office. Now, one thing you notice about my strobe is it's fast.
Somewhere along the way, I put a soldering iron next to a resistor and it burned it. Mine was fast and theirs was slow. So Chris being my partner burned his in the same spot and his was fast.
So, everyone else burned theirs. It was funny because the teacher couldn't figure out why our class had fast strobes and no one else did.”
He smiled and said, “What was your favorite class in high school?”
“Oh man, without a doubt, it was drama. Mrs Dent was awesome. She was a woman that just fucked with your head how smart she was. For an old lady, she had life figured out and grabbed by the nuts.”
“In which way?”
“This woman found out that the country club had men's golf in the afternoon and womens was two times a week in the morning. She'd go out and freeze her tail off in the morning and then figured if she was going to stay warm, she'd have to go out and play against the men. They took it as a joke and she started betting them against their scores. What's funny is you'll see her name on a lot of the men's trophies up there.”
“Yeah, I loved that woman. And then, the year before last, she came down here and she sat in the office with me and we threw back shots until she told me she was dying of cancer.
Most people handle dying gracefully and some of them will milk it for all they can. But, for her, I'll tell you dying pissed her off. It was her body telling her she couldn't beat something and it really pissed the woman off.
What she did was she prepared the funeral with me and she made me promise one thing which I did.”
made me promise that when I folded her hands, she wanted her middle
He chuckled and said, “Oh man. You didn't!”
“Yes I did. She told me, “When the fucking grim reaper comes to get me, I want that son of a bitch to know I got the last laugh. Fuck him!”
So, I told her to get me a ring and I'd put it on that finger and I'd do it tastefully. What's wonderful about her is she'd tell the story out at the country club and then, she got the other ballsy broads as she called them to come down and tour the home.
You'd be amazed at how many have brought in business. And, you'd be amazed at how many will come up and thank me for making her final wish come true.”
“Yeah, so if someone comes in and asks for something you can do and it's not hurting anyone, then do it.
But, one thing you do not do hon, is you don't do something to someone because someone else asked it. If a woman comes in and tells you to shove something up her husband's ass. You decline. Now, if the man comes in and asks it, then do it. Or, if they've Willed it, do it. Hell, I don't care, but they HAVE to request it.”
“Oh, you'll be amazed at the things you get asked. Well, you heard about that one guy and while I'm at it, I need to bring you in and show you a video of the candy stealing lady.”
“Ok, what do I do if she comes in?”
“Here's what you do. You have her sign in and then you usher her up front to look at the body and then you do what you can to sell her a pre-need plan. That's what I'm going to try to do. And, if she buys it, I'll tell her she can have the candy.”
We watched the video and he said, “She goes to my church!”
“Well, now you know she's a candy stealer.”
“I can't believe I saw her do it too! She didn't even try to hide what she did. That's just crazy.”
“Yeah, and when she goes into that bathroom, she steals the SoftSoap and toilet paper.”
“It's a shame we can't put glue in the SoftSoap.”
“Yeah, but I don't want to do anything harmful. Garlic isn't harmful, but it sure tastes awful.
By the way, in that closet, up on a shelf is the dish of garlic candy. Don't confuse it and give it to everyone. We'd not make friends that way.”
Gregg came in and said he was going to Quincy and repeated to me again three of the largest plasmas.
I said, “Gregg, now get stands for those things and if they have them with rollers, get those.”
He nodded and I said, “At Lowes, get seven of those furnaces and three tanks each of LP. Also, Would you do me a favor and see if they have tarps which are big enough to cover the limos?”
“Yeah, they have them, how big do you want?”
“Well, they're twenty six feet long, you might get like twenty wide by forty and that way we've got plenty for a complete cover.”
“Ok, now, I'm going to throw another idea at you and you can tell me 'no' if you want.”
“Out front, if you put tarps down over the walks, the ice isn't going to stick. What I can do is put tent stakes down and tie them off to them, so if the wind blows they'll stay put. And then we can put concrete blocks on the other side.”
“Sounds good to me and if it doesn't work, we can use them for paint drop cloths for when we build the new one.”
He smiled and said, “I'm taking Heather with me, so you two behave.”
“We have to, we've got a funeral prep coming in. Oh and Gregg?”
“Check and see how much those electric timers are. We need the three prong in kind and we'll need four for the fireplaces. Ty thinks we could put them on timers and that'd keep us from forgetting to turn them on.”
“Will do. Anything else?”
“Yeah, get a receipt I want to be able to write this stuff off.”
“Yeah, In case your dad asks what's your vote on whether we do a procession to the crematorium, or not tomorrow.”
“I vote not. It's going to be rough enough on Dad and I don't think it's going to be good.”
“Ok, I don't know what he wants, but if he says he doesn't know what you boys want, I'll tell him you both voted No.”
“Donuts and breakfast are in the office. I bought Ty orange juice and a box of Strawberry Pop Tarts. Just watch him eat them. You'll see I'm right.
By the way, you had a wire off a glow plug. He put it back on and the receipt's in your office.” He chuckled and left.
Ty came in eating a pop tart. I smiled because he was eating the top left to right like Gregg said.”
He looked at me and said, “Donuts in the office.”
“In a moment. I've got to think about what else needs done.”
“Go get a donut and stop stressing. I thought I'd be here to help so you didn't stress. It's stressing me watching you stress.”
“Ok, Gregg and Heather just left and I'm having him get four of those timers for the fireplaces and seven of those furnaces instead of six with three tanks of fuel for each furnace.
What I'm thinking, is we'll put three down the sides and one to the back. That way, we've got plenty of heat down the sides where the doors are and where the double doors are opening out to the garage, we can leave those open and crank up the heat so we can get that heated. Sound good to you?”
“Yeah, but what are we going to do if we have this situation in the future?”
“Well, when we get the addition built, we'll have those spaces and by then, I'll have something done to the garage so it can be used.
I sure never counted on having a funeral this big. But, since I know it's possible to have one, in the future, we'll make the changes so we don't have to go to all these extremes.”
“What about Quincy?”
“Quincy's entirely different. We'll have two big visiting chapels and we'll wire in closed circuit television so we can go that route. I'm not of a mind to build a bigger chapel because it'll be rarely used to capacity.”
He nodded and said, “To be honest, I think it's blowing everyone away how many people are showing up for this. I'm glad, but it's not helping me to see you stress like this.”
“It'll be over soon and then, we'll be back to normal funerals.”
I sat down and began to eat a donut when the chimes sounded. Ty went to the door and welcomed the family. I stood up and shook the man's hand and showed the couple with him to the seats in front of the desk.
I introduced myself and then Ty. I told them Ty was my new partner and he'd be directing the funeral services with my oversight and asked them if this was satisfactory. They nodded and Ty went into the reading of the questions.
The only complaint I had thus far was Ty's eye contact with the people. I knew as he got used to the list of questions, he'd loosen up. He seemed nervous and I was nervous for him. I remembered mine and compared to mine, he was doing excellent.
When the questions were over, Ty went on into the picking and choosing of the flowers and the casket. I usually take the time to come up off the questions to have them sign permission forms and the consent papers, but he was doing well otherwise.
The family knew what they wanted and they didn't dicker too much on anything other than flower selection. It seemed they had things they'd seen before and the communication between the couple had prepared them for the eventuality of this happening. He even had a funeral card they'd saved from a funeral they'd been to previously which made it way easier on Ty.
When Ty got through, he looked up at me and professionally said, “Anything you can think of, Lance?”
“Yeah, one small tidbit, but otherwise we're all set. What I need for you to do is come over here and I've got some consent and permission forms. What this does is it gives us permission to open the grave and to prepare Grace. Ty, you might go over this with them and I'll stand back, now.”
I could tell he was kicking himself over it, but all in all, he'd done excellently. He'd scheduled the service for Saturday as it was a visitation funeral and he'd asked for photos for the obituary and as a side note, he told them the obituary would be in the Quincy paper, too.
What had to be hard for him was he offered to let them see the chapel and took them on a tour. They marveled on the amount of flowers and he calmly told them the funeral was for a citizen of the community who was a well known business person. Apparently they had been with Grace when the news was on, so they weren't familiar with Ty being related to the funeral.
He DID tell them about the color coordination of the funerals and asked me for permission to swing the curtains around. I nodded and thought it was a small effort for them to see the other colors. He did and they thought the Peach would be best with the Oak casket they'd chosen.
The family was acting like they were very satisfied with their selections and I thought it'd be nice, too.
One thing Ty did ask which was nice was where they'd heard of us. The man mentioned coming to a visitation for a gentleman last August and noting we thought enough of the attendees not to keep everyone out in the heat at the cemetary.
He told us he knew if we thought enough of others to put up a bigger tent and to have fans, he knew immediately we were his choice.
Ty smiled and said, “We'll have the tent up again and we'll have heat in it this time, since it will be cold outside. I made silent thanks for getting the furnaces purchsed as I'd not thought they could be utilized like that, but it'd make a great selling point.
When they left, Ty fell into my arms in a hug and said, “Man, that was hard! I was so nervous, I just knew they could see me sweating. I'm sorry about the consent forms.”
“Hon, you did great. The poise you had was awesome and the way you used those heaters for the tent, just blew me away. I had no thought we could use them for that, and you did it awesome; I was doing a silent cheerleader routine for you.”
He smiled and said, “Let's go fix the beams and then I'll go finish the obituary. That's awesome how you have that because it really is that easy.”
He paused and asked, “Now, what did I do wrong?”
“Nothing really that can't be explained away by it being your first prep.
You needed more eye contact with them, but what helped was they were amazingly prepared. I wish I had more like them, but you'll find the selection of the funeral card will be the one point which will hold people up. There's so many and then the choice of scripture, poem, or nothing is a bit overwhelming for them.
They know it's something the people will carry out with them and save, but they had what they want and were well communicated as to what she wanted.”
“So, nothing real glaring except the consent form?”
“Man, I think it flowed smoothly and you don't know how many times when I read the questions I was thanking you for having it worded the way you did. It made it a lot smoother than words I would have chosen.”
“Well, I'm glad you got the first one under your belt because it's the toughest.
Me, my first one, I was stuttering and stammering. If you'd seen me, you'd been like, Oh man, they're going to walk out on him!, but they didn't.”
“So, that's why you made it written out the way you did?”
“Yeah, because after my first one, I was forgetting topics I wanted to discuss, but, also they had the consent forms at the front which really bugged me.”
“Well, how would you like for me to have your mom here and me to tell you the very first thing, “Well this funeral's going to cost a lot and I want you to pay up now, or get her out of here.”
Ty looked shocked and I said, “Yeah, that's how it comes across when you put the money up front.”
“Oh man, I'm glad I didn't do that.”
“No, I'm glad you didn't either. Now, I'll tell you why I put it where I do in the presentation.”
“Well, when you come in here, you're still in shock from losing someone and a million thoughts are going through your mind.
To be honest, the niceness of the funeral home isn't even a consideration. The only thing you want to do is get what you have on your mind, out there.
That's why I have all the questions designed for them to get it all done. Then, they know and I know we're burying Grace.
So, I get the consent forms and permissions out of the way, so I know what we're looking at. By going into the casket selection and flowers, you might be overwhelming them if they're not going to have a casket.”
“They don't HAVE to have a casket?!”
“Not if it s cremation. They can have the person up there on a table with a sheet over them.”
“Yeah, I do. I'm not going to make them pay for something they either don't want or can't afford. I've had people up there in pajamas under a blanket and that's what they wanted. Once again, do what they ask.”
“Cool, so I could be buried with smokey.”
“Yeah and my ashes too.”
“No, I don't want to think about you leaving me.”
“Well, it's like forever from now, but when it happens, it's my hope we go together because losing you would rip my heart from my body, too.
So, they really should build a double casket so we can be in it together.”
“They don't, do they?”
“No, but I'd be fine with us being up there together under the sheets spooned in front of you.”
He smiled and said, “Oh man, that'd be great.”
“Ok, let's get the lasers fixed and then, we can take a break. What do you want to do?”
“I'd really like to go get some lunch.”
“Ok, let me call Joan and see if they can come down early.”
“Why do they need to be here?”
“Someone needs to be here because flowers are going to be coming some time. And one thing you'll see me do is accept flowers while a visitation is running. Usually, I don't but it was your Dad that changed that, and not me. So, I'll take flowers in until four. By then, everything that's coming, should be here.”
He nodded and said, “Well, don't rush them on my account of getting lunch.”
“Well, how about I stay here and you go gas up the old limo and get lunch for us while you're out?”
He smiled and said, “Ok, what do you want?”
“Truth be known, I want a tenderloin (pork fritter in some parts of the country) from Logue's with some lattice fries and cole slaw.”
“Sounds good, what else to they have?”
“Fried chicken, burgers, catfish fillets and whole, and open faced roast beef sandwiches. We'll have to go there so you're more familiar with what they have. Either that, or I'll have to ask Larry for a menu.”
“Larry's the owner?”
“Yeah. He's ok, but I wouldn't work for him in a million years. He screams at his employees.”
“Oh man, and you still go there?”
“Yeah, I go there because the food's that good, but one thing he doesn't do is do it out front.”
“Oh, good. I was worried it was out front.”
“No, he'd be dumber than all get out if he did that because he'd be sitting with an empty restaurant. One thing you should know is that his place is one restaurant which outsells McDonald's in this town.”
“It has to be good.”
“Breakfast there is awesome. What I eat for breakfast, they have and it's not bad priced.”
“Well, order me a tenderloin and get what you're getting on mine too.”
“Do you want lattice fries too?”
“I have him burn mine, do you want that?”
“I can't stand a squishy french fry. I want some crunch. So, I tell him to burn it and then when I get them, I know they're done right.”
“So, they don't come out burned?”
“No, they come out about the brown-ness of the bun...just a little darker than golden, but they're crunchy.”
“Sounds good. Not black though, right?”
“No, not black. If they were, I'd tell him he did his job too well.”
“Well, get it ordered and I'll go get gas and then run up by there. Any particular gas?”
“No, it all comes out of the same tank and pipeline, so it doesn't matter.”
He left and while he was gone, I ordered lunch and reset the lasers. Then, I went downstairs and brought up the casket and made everything presentable.
I was in the process of checking the video when Mitch, Joan, Mark, Jake, and Little Mark came into the home. I shut the video off, and went to shut the doors to the chapel.
I was too late. I went in the side door and they were coming in the front doors. I went up to Mitch and gave him a hug. “I'm sorry, I didn't have the doors shut. I didn't want you to see her until later. I'm still setting video cameras.”
He looked at me strangely and said, “What for?”
“Mitch, it's something I do where it protects you, and her. There are people out there in this world who steal from caskets. They'll steal ear rings off ears and jewelry off fingers. So, what I do is I cover everyone with video cameras so if it happens, I know who did it and I can take the video to the police and prosecute.
Now, here's something else I want to tell everyone. Up here, you'll see the carpet change. From here back, is a grid of lasers that alarms me to tell me someone's reached into the casket.
If you want to touch her, or if you want to put anything into the casket, let me know and I'll shut down the grid, but steer people away from the casket because I'll come running when I hear the alarm.”
He looked at me and said, “It's not going to be loud is it?”
“No, watch this and listen real sharp and you'll hear it.”
I stuck my hand into the grid and he heard the sound of chimes real faint. He nodded and I said, “There's no chimes played during visitation so that when I hear them, I come running.
What I will do when I hear them, I will go check the video to see what was done and then reset the alarm. If anything was taken, I'll get them before they get out the door and when you hear the sound, you see if you know the person.”
I paused and said, “Some people do it unintentionally, and I understand that. It's easy to walk into the grid and it's easy to talk with your hands and point at the flowers on the casket which I've not gotten there yet. But, just keep an eye out and I will, too.”
I smiled and said, “Ty just left to get us some lunch. It's already been a long day for both of us, and we're coasting on very little sleep.”
Mitch smiled and I said, “No, not that. I was on call last night and very rarely do I have but even one run. We had four last night, so he took a nap and I will later.”
Mitch looked surprised and I asked, “Now, you want the good news?”
He looked at me and I said, “He did his first funeral prep this morning and if I were giving grades, I'd give him and A-. He did really good.”
“Good, how'd he handle everything else?”
“Like a trooper. We had a messy accident last night and just telling Gregg about it nearly had him puking, but Ty was out there in the mess and I was really proud of him.”
Joan came over and said, “That truck wreck?”
“We heard about it. It sounded awful.”
She smiled and said, “Well, I don't envy you your job.”
“It was Ty's job last night, so that's the one I didn't envy. He came close to losing it, but what got him was something small and not the major stuff.”
Mitch said, “So, he did good?”
“Oh yeah.” I paused and said, “But, he didn't do anything here. I waited until he left before I brought her up.”
“Ok, I was concerned.”
“Don't be. He and I talked about where the lines rest and where they don't. Joan has them in her job and I have them here. He knows we're not going to go beyond them and now knows why.”
I stopped for a moment and said, “Guys, I need to get the video set and then if you'd like, I'll show you what I've got set up. You'll be amazed because that's something we didn't get to.”
Mitch looked around and said, “Where's Gregg?”
“He and Heather went to Quincy to do some errands. They'll be back. It's something we had to do for the visitation.”
“What did you need?”
“Well, for a normal visitation and funeral, we have seating for six hundred. That's normally too big.
For this funeral, we're going to have to have seating for two thousand. So, what we're doing is we're setting chairs up in the rotunda, the sitting room upstairs, and the garage is getting called into service.
So, to do that, we're getting some of the biggest plasma screens Circuit City offers and we're going to have to add additional heaters in the garage. Which brings me to a question I have to ask.”
“What's on your mind?”
“Tomorrow after the funeral, do you want a procession up to Quincy?”
Mitch shook his head no and said, “No, if you don't mind, I'd like the family to go, but having two thousand people go wouldn't be right.”
“Ok, now, the next thing is the forecast calls for freezing rain and snow...up to a foot.
From what I've been told, the television stations have been given permission to come in to broadcast it live. I don't mind them being allowed to come in, but I do need to say it's going to change the characteristics of the funeral greatly.”
“Well, what they require for light and what I have for light during a funeral differ greatly. I have very little light and they require more light than what I've got on now. So, I just wanted you to know, the service is going to be changed.”
Mitch nodded and said, “Lance, your tone about that screams to me you're not happy. We decided it because we thought it'd be best for those who couldn't make it.”
“I understand that Mitch, but I will state this and then be over it. Before they come in and hook into the power grid of this home, and before they do anything, they will sign waivers of liability.
I won't have them coming in and affecting the circuitry and security of this home for future users.
You are aware of the value of that system and if they don't sign the waiver, they won't be allowed in.”
“Ok, that's acceptable. Is that all that's upsetting you?”
“Yes, everything else, we can handle As you can see, I've got the air scrubbers running and you'd be amazed at how much has gotten pulled out since yesterday.”
“Ask Ty, he attempted to lift the HEPA filter and couldn't. Empty, it weighs about ten pounds and full it weighs around three hundred and fifty.”
“Goodness!” Joan exclaimed.
now I need to tell you one other thing and then, I must get
“Due to the change in the hours of the visitation, I couldn't notify the florists. So, they'll be delivering flowers until four pm.”
Mitch nodded and said, “Lance, do you have a moment?”
He walked with me to the back and said, “I'm sorry you're upset.”
“I'm not. Mitch, I came in this morning and got told things, not asked them. I would have appreciated a phone call, but that wasn't afforded to me.
When someone tells me what I will and won't do in regards to this funeral home, I balk and I balk hard. To be quite honest, it pissed me off royally, but I'm doing it. Now, you know my grounds and that's all I'm saying.”
“Ok, it got to be out of control. We spoke with the television crew yesterday and the suggestion got made and I told them they needed to discuss it with you.
Then, we get a phone call from them stating they were broadcasting live and I thought it was approved and then someone mentioned about the numbers of people stating the were coming and I realized we weren't talking about a funeral, we were talking about a huge funeral”
“I understand, and believe me, I'll find out who assumed responsibility for giving that approval. When I find out, I'll step off in their ass.
One thing I do hope is they have their own power supply and can control it from their vehicle. I'm certainly not going to provide to them what is liable to fuck up my system and then have them run off going “oops”, because they'll realize how big of an oops it was when they're paying for the replacement and the lost business incurred over it.
So, if they assume the liability, great. If not, then they can film the front door. “
He smiled and said, “I think it was them who decided. I sure can't see anyone on this side saying it was ok without talking to everyone else.”
“I know. It's probably an assumption on their part and I don't like that. You know and I know it stinks of bad business..”
He nodded and said, “By the way, Ty told me how easily you told him to lend me the money to get that place up in Quincy bought and what your advice was. I found it humorous as hell.”
“I was serious Mitch. I think it'll work, He knows it's not going to pay him to be anything he wasn't to her and he knows he should lay down his arms. He shouldn't want a war. Look what you have and what he has? You lose and you've still got one. He loses, he has none. It seems to me the one with the attitude should be you.”
He smiled and said, “Just the same, I really want to thank you. Ty looks at that money as both of yours and I do too. I don't think you do yet.”
“What's funny, is everyone's still getting used to it. Gregg asked me if I was going to put gas in his truck as it didn't run free and he was broke. I had to remind him his bank account is quite full and speaking of that, we need to work to get that money out of no interest checking and get it into something which pays at least something.”
He smiled, “I wondered how long it'd take you to catch on. Now, one thing I want to tell you is the way Gregg and I are looking at the money is what I have, is yours and he says what he has is yours to spend and invest. He said he would speak to you about investing it for us and I want to see if he did.”
“Yeah, he said, twenty million in White Castles. That's cool as long as there's one here. I really think Quincy needs one out by WalMart.”
He nodded, “I think they'll return money way better than hotels myself, but everyone's so headstrong on saying restaurants will go broke. They've been around a hundred years and I think they'll be around another hundred. We've got good location and I know people from here buy them and bring them home.”
“Mine don't make it home!”
He smiled, “A lot of mine don't either." He looked at all the donuts and asked, "Now that I can eat what I want without guilt, I'll do it.”
“She told you what to eat!”
“Yeah, well, it wasn't told me what to eat, but bitch at me for eating things until I didn't want to touch anything.”
“Sorry, but Ty can eat what he wants and I hope he doesn't tell me not to eat what I want.”
Mitch laughed and said, “Don't stand in the way of that kid and a pop tart, but when you see him eat one, just watch him eat it. It's fascinating.”
“Gregg told me and then went and bought him some this morning. When he came in, he was already eating the top like a typewriter, so I'll have to wait to get that experience. But, Ty's got things he says are just as funny about Gregg.”
“Yeah, Gregg thinks his daddy's a plumber the way he works a faucet.”
I laughed and said, “Yeah, I'm glad he got out of it, but we'll need you up in Quincy.”
“I'll be there.”
“Well, what I'm going to want is pex tubing in the concrete for the parking lot and the sidewalk here I think.”
“Ooh, putting it in after the fact isn't a joy. You should have done it before you poured.”
“Yeah, but I think when we do the addition, I'm going to shut down for a few months. Funerals can go on without us while we take a vacation.”
He nodded and said, “Where are you guys planning on going?”
“I don't know. What I do know is I love him enough to travel and I want to do all sorts of things I didn't want to do before. It's hard, because I'm a security freak.”
“That's not a bad thing, it's just not real good either when you let it hold you back.”
“Yeah, now, did you hear what he spent on my car?”
“Gregg told me. IF you ask me, it was worth every penny.”
“By the way, that's a beautiful flower arrangement.”
“Oh, I sent it huh!”
I looked at him and said, “Yeah, you sent it, didn't you?”
“I think she had it Willed with her lawyer that I'd send it to her. Thank goodness she wasn't already married to Randy.”
“Ooh, that'd been funny!”
“Yeah, I know what she sent as she saw it once at a beer baron's funeral.”
“I think it's beautiful, but if you didn't send it, I think it's tacky.”
“Well, at one time, I would have sent it gladly, but Lance, when loving someone becomes a chore, I'd just as soon take out the trash.”
“One thing I can say though, is your kids learned the right way and the wrong way to love someone. They're bending over backwards to do it right.”
“I'm happy for that and I'll do it the right way the next time. I did it the right way this time, but things got in the way. Let's switch subjects and while we're still alone, tell me what Ty had last night that made Gregg green.”
“A semi hauling hogs. The guy tried baling out of the truck and it rolled on top of him. The problem was I think only three of the hogs lived. Ty was ankle deep in blood and mud and he took that well.
What got to him was when they lifted the truck, the guy stuck to the truck and came up with it. Ty had ahold of the guys hands and I think he thought he'd pull the guy free. When the guy lifted up with the truck, it scared the shit out of him. The problem was he was sliding in the blood and mud and the guy fell back towards him. It wasn't funny, but I'd told him. “Ty, don't stand so close because you don't know what might happen”, but no....then, he had that happen and by the time he was done, we had the corpse without a sheet and him with one. It was either that, or put him in a body bag.”
Mitch laughed and said, “Oh man, that kid's going to tell me things and Gregg's going to be telling him to shut up. I think it's so funny because Gregg thought he was the tough one.”
“You know, I'm really proud of Gregg. He's shaping up and the good thing is Heather knows his flaws and is being patient with him.”
“She's a great girl. I really like her.”
“What we need to do now is work on getting little Mark a new guy. The one he's got now isn't going to be much.”
“You don't say! I was wondering what you thought of that move.”
“I had it done to me all too often. Now, I see him going through it and I want to throw a life raft, but you know as well as I that he won't take it yet. So, all we can do is hope and have someone in mind.”
“I'll keep my eye out, but I can't say I know any gay guys who are available.”
“Well, I'll let you get back to what you were doing. Do you want some help?”
“What I'm doing is easy. You can help if you want.”
“Ok, what do you need.”
“What I normally do is adjust and then run back and forth adjusting. If you'll go into my office and take a look at the monitor and call my cell phone, you can tell me which way to move things.”
“Ok, but you need to tell me what to look for.”
“What we have are four heads I want one on each corner of the casket. That way, we've got it all covered. You'll see what I'm doing if you look at the upper right one. When that's done, I'm going to adjust the other cameras so they're on the opening. It's not so much as much as I want the opening shown. But, for that, I'll have to put on the flowers.”
“I'll give you a call.”
“Ok, I'll wait.”
Soon, I felt a hand on my lower back and Ty said, “Lunch is served sir.”
“Ok, go watch what your dad's doing in the office as that will be your job. He's calling me and then he's going to train in the cameras to the corners of the casket. By doing that, we'll have the middle of it shown.”
“Ok, don't let your lunch get cold and by the way, I ate all your fries. They were good.”
“Ok babe. I guess I'll have pop tarts.”
“No, I didn't!”
“I know and it wouldn't matter if you had. I'd taste your tongue to get the taste back.”
“Oh, I guess I might have to do that then. I'll go help him and then that'll get you your lunch faster.”
Mitch called and said. “UP to the right.”
“No, you have to tell me back, front, head, or foot.”
“Ok, that'll be easier for you.”
“Go head and back a nudge.”
We continued and trained in the cameras. When we were done, Things were about prepared.
“From My Keyboard To Your Heart”,
The author, RettaMichaels copyrights this story and retains all rights. This work may not be edited, changed, or duplicated in any form, media [ known or unknown ], without the author's expressed permission. All applicable copyright laws apply. RettaMichaels does NOT give editorial consent in order for this to be published. If it is deemed unpublishable in it's context, permission much be granted before publication or changes occur.
“From My Keyboard To Your Heart”,”'Retta”,“RettaMichaels”.“Retta”,“Rhett”, and “Rhette” are all trademarks of RettaVonnMichaels LLC. None of these trademarks may be used, or authorized without consent.
Disclaimer: All individuals depicted are fictional, and any resemblance to real persons, locations, or incidents is purely coincidental.