“So you see, Mrs. Powers, the black is far outweighing the white now — I’d give it currently as 75 – 25, up from 50 – 50 just last week. Your husband will be dead in another. He’s in hospital right now isn’t he?”
“Mrs. Jenny Powers couldn’t believe her ears. “But… he *works* in a hospital. He’s, I don’t know, a *doctor*.”
“And pray tell what kind of doctor Mrs. Powers? Psychiatrist? Podiatrist? Vet, even?”
“Vet, yes a vet,” she decided. She sat back in her chair, fighting the tears. The black coffin beside her was too close. It felt like it was on top of her now, even trying to encompass her.
“Vets aren’t in hospital unless you count the VA. And I don’t think your husband is that kind of vet. He will be dead in a week,” the owner of the funeral home doubled down. “I hate to be so blunt but you must prepare. The black coffin you’re staring at would make a fine vessel for the afterlife, as we sometimes put it. Like a brave warrior sent back to Valhalla. You said your husband was a vet.”
“Yes,” she said absentmindedly, starting to believe this is all a dream. *Must* be a dream. But how can she wake up?
“Oops, the black has moved a bit left again. Looks like closer to 80 percent now. You better make that purchase today. It’s the only way to end this.”
“How (*sniff*) much?”
“How much do you have? Vets make pretty good money as I understand. Even vet’s assistants. You trade off each week I’ve heard. How exactly does that work?”
Maybe she could snap her fingers? She tries but they just pass through each other. “None of this is real. None of this is *real*.” Didn’t work.
“Typical reaction to severe grief Mrs. Powers. Oh dear: perhaps 85 now. Your husband Tim might be dead before tomorrow.”
“How about a 1000?” She thought of her pocketbook in the car and a thousand dollar bill within. “How about 2 to end this, 3.” She recalled she had 3 1000 dollar bills in the car she drove over with, a Toyota Dusty with 200,000 miles due for an engine change. That’s why she had the money in the car, in her purse. She was on her way to the mechanic to pay for a motor so she could keep running from… who? Where did she come from?
“90 now. You better cough up the appropriate money. Do you want your husband to be buried in the ground like a dog?”
“Don’t *start* with dogs.” Her eyes were completely misting over. She decided to scream at the top of her lungs — maybe that would do it — end this.
“Another typical reaction,” came the reply after the deed was done. “Let it out, Mrs. Powers. Let it all out. Let the whole town know how you feel in this moment. Severe severe grief. Let it out!”
She screamed again. She stopped. She screamed some more, louder, longer, louder… louder… LOUDER.
Sirens went off down at the sheriff’s station. A firetruck and an ambulance were dispatched from the opposite side of town, the first running over Tim Powers bending down to pick up a Lincoln penny from the road, and the second making sure he was good and smushed and dead. His soul left his body.
“It was a pretty good one tonight,” Jeffrey Phillips exclaimed later to mate/lover Charlene the Punk ’round the breakfast table eating Toasty O’s, a new version instead shaped like little squares and triangles. Still the same delicious oaty taste, though. He spoons a big heapful into his face between sentences. “The dream I mean,” he says with open, milky mouth, making Charlene wince. She decides to take a long bathroom break while he finishes up. Sitting fully clothed on the toilet biding her time, she thinks about the dream he spoke of and the poor widow-to-be within, having to scream her lungs out to wake up and at the same time losing her husband. The scream equals death itself. A pretty good one, as Jeffrey declared after revealing the details. Worth putting in his blog, even.