Monday, May 18, 2009

Why do I do this?

I do this because I love it so much. You don't work in a funeral home and leave it at the end of a day. It is part of you. I have worked in two of the oldest professions; but no I am not a prostitute... I like eating and living indoors. I have worked for God and you don't clock out at the end of your shift and head to the house for a beer. It is not a way of life. It IS your life. Just like working at The Home. No man knows when death will come but we must all be prepared.

Working in a small town funeral home gave me a totally different perspective on life. There was a blur between work and non-work. Everywhere I went I was that young preacher that worked at The Home. No slack days, no off days. And we took it very seriously. But it was absurd at the same time. Humanity; comedy and tragedy! I have cried and I have laughed so hard I cried and in the end the moments tended to blend together. Sorrow, dejection, lonliness, happiness, joy and hope. That is what life is all about. The good, the bad and the ugly.

I have so many stories and so little time. I also work for Caribou Entertainment out of Hollywood. I am putting this all together into a treatment for a movie or a TV series. I would love to have your stories. Please feel free to share. Tragedy and Triumph, Sadness and Hope. It is why we get up in the morning. Just when you think you are having a bad day, along comes someone that sets a new standard.

And yet we all get up....

Sunday, January 4, 2009

My First Coroner Call

Did I mention that my boss, Earl, was the coroner for the county? One of the beauties of my job was that I got to play coroner when he was out of town. There was not a lot of training for the position. Most things you learned by doing and no two coroner calls were the same. Earl had tons of experience and I had zero. Well, not exactly zero, I did go out on coroner calls when I could but we were a small county and it wasn’t like people were dropping dead every day.

My first call was for a man that had drowned in the lake. The County Investigator, Danny, called and told me he was picking me up. The Rescue Squad found the man and had already taken him to the hospital. On the way Danny told me all that he knew. The family was from Georgia, they were picnicking at the lake and the man had been decidedly drunk. The fact that he could not swim had been held in check by the amount of alcohol he consumed. Alcohol can be kind of mean that way. The man had wandered a good way from shore and the water was barely more than waist deep. However the lake was created by the TVA back in the 60’s and the man didn’t know that he was walking down an old road bed. When he veered to his right he took his last step past the drop off where the bottom was 7 feet further down than where he had previously been walking. Gravity being what it is, he proceeded to sink to the bottom.

At the hospital we proceeded to the ER to verify the validity of the gentleman’s death. On walking in the room I was pretty confident that he had passed on. I explained that I was playing coroner and asked Phil, a friend of mine on the Rescue Squad, if he was comfortable that the man was dead. Phil glanced at the body and turned back to me with a look of “are you kidding?” I then said that I pronounce the man dead and asked if I should make a sign or something; since I had never done this before. The ER doc said my signature on his papers would suffice.

Danny then said we need to go have a talk with the family. As we headed down the hall he asked if I wanted to take the lead on speaking with them. I am sure my look conveyed that that was the stupidest think I’d ever heard. I told him that the less I had to say, the better.

In the room Danny made introductions and told the family that I was the Coroner. I swear in front of God all I said was “I’m sorry for your loss!” When Danny was finished he once again conveyed our condolences and we left the family to their mourning.

So my first coroner call was pretty uneventful and Earl congratulated me on letting Danny take the lead and me not screwing anything up. I was proud of myself. At least I was for two weeks.

Paul, an older gentleman who sold insurance for The Home, came into the office one morning and wanted to know what the hell I was trying to do to that poor family from Georgia! He was busting a gut laughing and obviously having a good time. He also said that fishing was going to suffer because everyone was now afraid of the monster in the lake. He said that I had told the family an octopus had dragged the gentleman underwater and proceeded to suck all the blood out of his body thru his foot. Since this was indeed as ridiculous as it sounded, I told Paul he was out of his mind and that I only looked that stupid.

He proceeded to prove that I was in fact that stupid. He pulled out a copy of the local, small town Georgia paper and had hi-lighted an article on the front page. The quote in the article was “the County Coroner said that Mr. Grimes was pulled underwater by an octopus that proceeded to suck all of the blood out of Mr. Grimes body through his foot.” I looked around the office and told everyone that I swear all I said was ‘I’m sorry for your loss’.

We did some checking with the funeral director at the other home and found out it was true. I had created quite a stir in that corner of Georgia. He tried to explain to the family that Mr. Grimes still had blood in his body but they wanted nothing of it. It seemed to be a source of pride that he had passed away ‘not by alcohol’ but by the “Monster from the Lake!”

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Funeral Mafioso

I don’t know. Maybe it was the shear boredom of the situation. Maybe it was the stretch limousine and the 3 piece suits. Maybe it was because David jumped in the back and told me that I could chauffeur him back to The Home.

After the graveside service we had loaded the family in the limo and taken them to their home to pick up the equipment that we left. We always took 2 death signs to put down the road on either side of their house. We also took folding chairs and a podium with registration book so that the family would have a record of everyone that stopped by their home to pay their respects. This was meant to make it easier on the family when they decided to send “Thank You” notes. But I know it was also concrete evidence of their true friends; the ones who visited before or after the Funeral and the ones who didn’t. If a family didn’t visit during your time of sorrow you were not obligated to visit them during their time of need. If you did, it was a sign of your sainthood and your easy access to heaven. This smugness could be taken with you to Church on Sunday and everyone understood.

David was hungry and told me to find the next service station so we could grab a snack. I pulled in the first station we came to and parked at the far side of the lot. The limo needed plenty of room to maneuver; you didn’t just park it anywhere. I was amused, but not surprised to find that the gentlemen inside the store were staring out the window at the wonder before them.

I need to point out one thing. Our hearse had little “The Home” signs in the windows so that everyone would know where we worked. As if anyone in the County didn’t know our hearses from those of the competition. Our limousine, however, had no markings what so ever. There was one distinguished characteristic about our limo in that the King may have ridden in it.

When we bought the Limo it was one of two on the lot that were exactly the same. One of them had been used for some period to shuttle Elvis around. But there was no record of which was which. This was before the Internet when you could Google anything you needed to find. We had a 50/50 shot that we were sitting in a car that had carried royalty and we lived as if it had.

We were across state lines and these folks had never seen our ride before. They might’ve thought that Elvis could emerge from the interior at any moment.

Just as David moved to get out of the car I told him to wait. We were both in 3 piece suits and sported dark sunglasses. I told him to follow my lead.

I got out and looked up and down the highway as if to be sure the coast was clear. I grabbed the handle of the back door and put my other hand to my ear as if I were confirming my actions with Mission Control. I opened the door to the limo and followed David to the Station. I opened the door and followed him in. We never spoke a word and no one ever spoke to us. They were too afraid.

We grabbed our crackers and sodas and I paid for it all. As I stepped through the door I again put my hand to one ear and scanned the highway in both directions. I nodded to David and we hurried to the Limo and I seated him in the back. When I started the car I stared at the gentlemen in the station for about half a minute as if to say “You must never tell anyone what you have seen today!” They slunk from the door as we pulled away.

As we hit the highway, David got on his knees and stared out the back window as we left. They were pouring out of the station as if to confirm that we weren’t coming back.

We laughed till we cried. Many times I wanted to go back to that station, strike up a conversation and ask if anything strange ever occurred around these parts. I never did, it would’ve been anticlimactic. Nothing could ever touch the joy we felt having made these folks lives weirdly surreal on that one hot southern day.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

I need your help!

Here's your chance to deliver me a Trick or Treat. Please let me know what you think of the The Home. The humor, the stories, the concept, whatever. I would like to get somebody else's feedback on my stuff. I love it, but what about you?




Friday, August 1, 2008

Stories I am working on

If you are new to reading my blog, you may skip this section.  I wanted to put it at the end but ran out of patience.  Thanx for your patronage and sorry for the confusion.

Since I do not know if anyone other than me and a couple of my friends will ever see this blog, I am including a list of the stories I still have to write. I am also waiting on an update from Tony and Barton to see if I missed anything.

This is it for now. Sorry for the length. Scroll hard.

1)Timmy, my partner, almost killed by two old ladies in a car

2)Parking cars at the funerals
a. Spit cans, stench & Dirt

3)Smoldering Grannie

4)Dr. Jonas convincing me I had spinal meningitis
a. Letting me in on it 2 weeks later

5)Why Women cry at Funerals

6)Fixin' your Grandmothers hair

7)Swallowing a mouth full of “Red Man” during the final visitation

8)Congregational Holiness women that would look to be sure someone was there to catch them before they passed out

9)The hysterical girl that ran across the walls of the parlor leaving footprints

10)The Preacher that wanted to save the souls of the people at the funeral because the dead man was already burning in Hell

11)Posing as Mafia at a rural gas station while in The Home’s Limousine

12)Driving the Hearse in procession w/the windows down and “Smoke on the Water” blaring on FM.

13)Knowing the guy was dead because the buzzards were circling the house.

14)Why you never let people with back-hoe’s did the graves
a. Or, why you never have 90 year old men as Pallbearers.

15)Our Cats
a. Phidippides
b. Trocar

16)The cats scaring the Be-Jesus out of everyone coming in The Home by jumping out of the bushes

17)The day the cats invaded the parlors

18)Cats scaring the living hell out of Jimmy at 2 AM while he is embalming

19)Ghosts and the cats

20)Ghosts and my Sister-in-law

21)Ghosts in the closet

22)Earl walking around The Home with a monster mask on

23)Burying a Bootlegger and taking his family home
a. Driving the Limo back while totally intoxicated
b. Having to type obits all night

24)Pronouncing a drowned man dead and telling his family that an octopus sucked all of his blood out through his foot

25)The dead man in the closet that had been at The Home longer than me

26)Grave diggers preferring to work in winter because in the summer they can’t dig it naked

27)Mr. Smith stopping by The Home to let us know his wife was dead
a. Having her body in his pickup

28)Mr. Carter farting on the old woman in the parking lot

29)The man with the hair-lip calling The Home to see if we have Mrs. Smith’s body
a. I WRONGLY assumed it was a prank call

30)Having a PA system that will broadcast a service and the music outside
a. Scaring pedestrians with it

31)Earl sneaking up on the State Trooper in our office
a. Sudden occurrence of a time-warp
b. Earl learning the definition of Stupidity

32)The Preacher that saw Heaven

33)Everyone assuming our crying was “tears of joy”
a. Not pain from biting through our tongues

34)Spotlighting parkers at the State Docks
a. And other reasons we should be dead

35)Our weekly steak cook-out
a. Reasons why it didn’t lead to death

36)Putting up the graveside tent into a yellow-jacket nest

37)Picking up my first body by myself
a. Understanding the term “full autopsy”

38)Watching my first embalming
a. Propping against the wall
b. Not passing out

39)My first embalming

40)Playing Coroner is not all fun and excitement
a. The Cleaners asking if they can burn my suit

41)The first time you fully understand that “all odor is particulate”

42)Sleeping in the windowless room of The Home’s apartment
a. Understanding “sensory deprivation”
b. Taking a drug test

43)Getting Married while at The Home
a. Using The Home’s Limo
b. Living in the attached apartment

44)Some people of Beaufort County are Cattle
a. Spending the night with the dead
b. Taking a dump in the Women’s bathroom floor

45)Why all Funeral Directors are obese, except for the ones with bulimia
a. Churches and neighbors providing food for the family
b. Eating with the families

46)People are generally more afraid of the dead then they let on in public

47)My friend Terry and his girlfriend visiting The Home to have supper
a. Touring The Home, embalming room and casket display room
b. Terry driving off road and hallucinating while going home
c. Understanding hyperventilation and you

48)Understanding all-too-well the expression “broke every bone in his body”
a. Why I don’t drive a VW today

49)Earl falling through roof of The Home

50)We never walked on the moon

51)Spiritual Trifecta
a. Sermons, Marriages and Funerals

Other career choices

No one has ever confused me with a wise man. Well that’s not entirely true. When I was a Southern Baptist Preacher people always got confused. That’s a good thing. Every good Preacher wants to cause a little confusion and consternation. If no one’s confused, then no one’s listening. But they’ll keep coming back; the fear of hell is a wonderful way to fill the pews.

But it scared me to realize people accepted whatever I said as the “word of God”. I am not God and am not delusional enough to think so (with all apologies to Jim Carey & George Burns). People would come up to me after a service and tell me they didn’t know that was what the Bible meant. I told them that’s how I see it based on where I am in my spiritual growth. You need to go home and think about it and decide if it was right for you. They always had the funniest expressions on their faces. There’s that darn confusion again. I felt that they came to church to be told how it is; not to think about it. What good is church if you have to think? Isn’t it outlawed in many congregations?

As a ministerial student I met with my counselor (who just happened to be the Chaplain for the college) to discuss some concerns. How I was supposed to preach the truth to a congregation when I wasn’t sure what it was myself. He told me that we were on one big happy journey seeking God; that I had to share new truths with my flock that jived with what they were able to understand. This would keep from shaking them off their spiritual foundation. But that I should sprinkle in a few new ideas to help them grow; and would only make them a little wobbly.

I told him I understood but had one burning question; what if I was wrong? What if when I stood before the Pearly Gates Saint Peter told me that not only was I going to Hell but I was taking about 150 people with me (I like having company)?

I must’ve confused him because he had the same funny expression on his face as my congregations. I appreciated him telling me he didn’t have a good answer for that one; that thought hadn’t crossed his mind. He tried to console me with we are all responsible for our own salvation and make decisions on what to believe. I thought that was a lot like saying it was OK for me to feed them poison but it was their choice to die.

This was the first time I put serious thought into the fact that I might be in the wrong profession.

No normal days

You never really get used to working in a Funeral Home. Not in a ho-hum, another day at the office kind of way. There are certain things that will unnerve you; and at unpredictable moments.

I remember getting the call at 5 AM that a man had passed away at a hospital in the city about 30 miles down the road. Since I wasn’t sure if the family would still be there, I jumped in the shower and put on a suit. I ran out the back of the home, with coffee in hand, heading to the garage where we kept the hearses. Looking up I saw a beautiful sunrise creeping over the horizon. I momentarily lost myself in the wonder of it all; the beautiful colors dispersed thru the sky and thinking about the irony of how life goes on. I tore myself from the scene and grudgingly turned to open the garage doors. As they went up a fiendish howling exploded from inside the garage as a terrifying demon from hell leapt out at me intent on ripping the heart from my body; which would give me about 3 seconds to ponder the irony of my fate.

Barely half a heartbeat passed before a gorgeous Irish Sitter bounded out of the garage, apparently trapped the night before when we shut the doors. In the same instant I laughed, cried and clutched my shirt trying to still the hammering in my chest. After regaining my senses I went back into the Funeral Home to change my underwear knowing the body would keep but the family wouldn’t wait forever.

Fun outside the office

We were not mean kids, just products of our environment. We never meant any harm. But in your teens you don’t really understand consequences. And living in rural Alabama in the 70’s we did not have the constant entertainment of kids today. We had to go hunting for it or make it up from scratch.

This meant lots of sports; skiing, volleyball, track, basketball, football and Frisbee. This also meant lots of mind games. Sometimes we played them on each other but mostly on the first hapless victim we found. Things I would kill my kids for if I even caught them thinking about it.

For instance, we would get in our cars and go to the four-lane that connected our town with the next one. It was only 5 miles away because in rural Alabama it doesn’t take much of a reason to start a town. We then picked the next car that passed and invited them out to play. By inviting I mean that one of us would drive in front of, behind and beside our victim. We never looked at the other car but proceeded to the next town with our target trapped between us. At the 4-way stop we pulled to the side and let our guest proceed. We then picked the next winner and followed him back.

We meant no harm. We figured that they would get the joke and laugh along with us. It didn’t occur to us until years later that we were terrorizing the citizens of the county. Today cell phones would stop this activity in its tracks. It’s lucky we didn’t end up in jail. Ah, those were simpler times. I hope my kids aren’t reading this.

Easily Amused

There was a definite pecking order at the home. The funeral director was boss and we were his staff. Write ups after the funeral would thank the funeral director and staff for the compassion we showed. We referred to my cohort as “And” and I was “Staff”.

My partner was a good guy to work with but easily rattled. This is a bad combo with me since I am easily amused. Late one night we were embalming a body and I was preparing the trocar. The trocar, it should be explained, is a pointed instrument that when hooked to a vacuum is used to remove any unnecessary fluid from the body yet when hooked to a bottle of embalming fluid is used to help preserve the body from decay. In funeral home speak we refer to these procedures as unpleasant.

While he went outside for a smoke I turned on a lamp and pointed it towards the wall behind me. I then killed the lights, placed a box beside the embalming table and stood on top of it. Just like a scene from any Vincent Price film. When I heard him returning I held the trocar like a sacrificial knife and cast my gaze heavenward chanting quasi-religious mumbo jumbo. As he walked in the look on his face was priceless (definite Kodak moment). He froze and then proceeded to scream a torrent of vulgarities in my general direction. He mentioned the fact that I scare the hell out of him and if I ever do that again, he will kill me.

I don’t know if he would kill me. But for sure his heart is in good shape. Sometimes it’s the simple things that are the most pleasing.

Disco Hearse

Late one evening I had to drive to the big city (about 90 miles) to pick up a body at the VA Hospital. Everything went smoothly and I was soon on the Interstate headed home about 1:30 AM. Did I mention that it was a pitch black night with no hint of a moon or any other light? That I was facing about 45 minutes tooling down the highway with only my headlights and dashboard lights to keep me company?

It didn’t take long before a still, quiet voice was talking to me. Is he really dead? Is he alive and trying to get up! Is he dead and trying to get up? Are you feeling lucky? Want to turn on the overhead light and take a look? My mind is a sadistic bastard and loves practical jokes as much as I do. I held out for a little while, telling myself that I was just being stupid. Nobody in the back of the hearse was going anywhere. Well, I could check just once, quiet my fears and get it all out of my system. I flipped on the light, turned to look in the back and saw that the body was right where I left it. I laughed at myself for being so stupid.

The voice in my head started back at it again. You have to admire persistence. I reckoned that I could crank up the radio and drown it out. Didn’t work; the voice kept at it. Since I had already turned the light on once, it was much easier to do it a second time. There was still no movement in the back. A few minutes later I had the radio blaring, voices in my head (my mind has lots of friends) and a crack addiction-like need to turn on the light and look. What had started as a single thought had turned into a overwhelming need to flip on the light and look. To someone standing beside the highway I, in my hearse, had to look like some freakish DJ in a mobile discothèque from hell barreling down the road with only one dancer laid out on the dance floor. Lights flashing, music blaring and a DJ frantically trying to coerce the dancer off his cot to get up and boogey.

I have never been so freaking happy to see the lights of a city in my life. I still have nightmares.

Last Visitation Etiquette

Opening the casket after a funeral so that friends and family may pay their last respects is an established southern tradition. It’s incredibly emotional and taxing on the family as well as those working the funeral. But it’s not without its up side.

We were in a small country church and had finally seated the family after the viewing, and were finishing closing the casket when the light in the chapel went dim and the church seemed to rock on its foundation. I turned to the entrance and there stood the largest woman that I had ever seen. I fully expected to hear “thar’ she blows” and see a peg-legged pall-bearer whip out a harpoon screaming “she won’t get away this time”. But the only sound in the church was a small voice saying “I have to see Mr. Jimmy before you close the casket”.

In the spirit of getting through before dark, the Funeral Director noted that the casket was already closed and we were preparing to move to the cemetery. The widow asked us to open the casket for her to pay respects. “Bertha is our neighbor and has a hard time getting dressed and in and out of car which is why she’s late” (she also has a hard time getting up from the table and telling time). We obliged and she moved up next to the casket, encasing it in shadows and seeming to draw it closer by the pull of her enormous gravity.

Caught up in grief she flung herself onto the casket (as much as anyone can fling 450 lbs of anything) and started sobbing hysterically, baptizing Mr. Jimmy with her tears. My partner and I had a death grip on each end of the casket praying to the gods that we could keep Mr. Jimmy in the coffin without breaking our backs. When we thought that all fun had been wrested from our situation Bertha’s wailings grew louder and in perfect harmony with the sobs, she started farting.

The look on the Directors face was priceless; this was new territory and he desperately searched for a solution. The look on the widow’s face was more reminiscent of a WWII soldier caught up in the terror of a mustard gas attack. Owing to the tight quarters of the church, the widow was seated just behind and to the right of Bertha’s weapon of mass destruction; well within the kill zone.

I began weeping hysterically; mainly because I was biting thru my tongue to keep from laughing. The widow was digging thru her purse in search of a dead skunk to bury her head in its ass and try to escape the gases spewing from Bertha’s backside. The Director and three of the pall bearers moved as one and grabbed the small gaseous-planet Bertha, pulling her from an orbit around the casket to one safely outside the church.

Like clockwork my cohort and I slammed the door on the casket, nailed it shut and hurried off to the Hearse. Back at the funeral home as we stripped naked preparing to burn our clothes we all agreed that the story of the “sobbing, farting neighbor” would be passed down even unto our children’s children.

1st night at The Home

Mr. Johnson, Petey to his friends, looked very dapper in his new suit with his slicked back hair and his bright yellow “I love my Grandkids” tie. He seemed ready to head out on the town to do some courtin’. His wife had died 6 years before and he had become quite the dandy with the elderly widows at Ebenezer Pentecostal Church.

The truth be told, all he wanted was to be tucked back into his casket. He couldn’t get comfy and he never was one to wear a suit, much less sleep in it. He asked if I knew any good bedtime stories. What stories do you tell the newly dead? Stories ‘bout Heaven and Hell were out. I didn’t know which way he was heading and saw no need to scare him or give him false hope. I considered a story about the restless corpse who wandered the earth because he didn’t know that he was dead, but I doubted if ol’ Petey would catch the irony.

I had just tucked him back into his silver “Policy Casket” - the kind you get when you had burial insurance and nothing more to spend - and had settled into a folding chair to tell my story when the Funeral Home started to shake like a 6.3 magnitude earthquake was rocking it’s foundation. A chorus of moans echoed thru the visitation room as the ghosts of all the people we had buried this past year were oozing into the room with me and Petey. Oozing in that they felt- no need to use the door. Their souls were seeping through the walls, floor and ceiling like a scene from the Haunted Mansion in Disney World on bad acid.

Then an icy chill surged thru my body - convulsing me as if I had just stuck my tongue in a light socket - and the wispy shape of Ms. Evelyn Banner poured from my nose and started coalescing in front of me. I awoke with a soul-rending screech, flailing my arms and sprang from my sweat soaked bed as if I were a psychotic gymnast who was always hyped on bad crack and had just gotten his first taste of Meth. Upon sticking my landing, I found myself in a moment of crystal clarity where I instantly absorbed my surroundings and my body was tensed like a coiled spring ready to “Fight or take Flight” against the evil that had engulfed me. Much like I imagine the prostitutes felt just before Jack the Ripper began carving them up like a plump roasted turkey ready for the Thanksgiving meal on the “Total Psycho” ward of the insane asylum.

In that moment I realized that my eyes had dried out to the point that I could not close them and that I was alone in the bedroom. Luckily I also realized that my bladder and bowels were on the brink of loosing themselves in a last ditch, vain effort to drive off whatever manner of beast, man or evil was assailing me.

I clamped shut my duct work, wet my eyes from the glass of water on the night-stand and faced the fact that I would get no more sleep this night. This was the first night that I slept in the Funeral Home and I, in fact, had not meant to sleep at all. That was why I was lying in bed holding my eyes open staring out the bedroom door, through the apartment, to the door leading into the Funeral Home Chapel, and had apparently gone to sleep that way. This was either going to be a short career working at The Home or else at the end of my life, when I died a Funeral Director, I would be ready and willing to face Hell and all that Satan could throw at me, because my mind and body would be numb by that time.

Having babies at The Home

My wife spent 40 hours in labor with our first child. I say this as an enlightened father since I was at the delivery of both our children. Altho I was merely an object which my wife cursed and berated, like the Priest in “The Exorcist”. The excruciating pain of a creature trying to escape her womb caused her to attempt to cast the evil onto me with a profanity laden exorcism.

My wife endured horrors that would’ve made the Marquis de Sade say “Damn man, cut her some slack”. She was breathing, grunting, sweating and pushing while the nurse was buffing up her biceps using the bed rails and my wife’s abdomen to practice her curls. As the doctor was feverishly probing her insides with Satan’s salad tongs searching for a baby or an end to this ordeal. Finally it looked like the blessed moment was upon us. And not a minute too soon.

I was giddy with excitement, my breathing was short and quick and my pulse was racing. I was waiting for the moment when I could know for sure that our daughter was healthy and safe. But it was not to be. What popped out of her womb could only be described as a featureless, cone shaped lump of flesh with 2 blow holes on top like a beluga with dual exhausts.

I looked with horror at the doctor who was as cool as a poker player. I looked at the nurse, pleading with her to make this abomination unto God go away. I looked for a hammer to end this hellish nightmare. I looked back at the nurse with an expression of “I don’t know what you see, but I am looking at the freakish spawn of my wife’s procreations with a submarine”. An inhuman torpedo baby.

The doctor was smiling, holding the creature and told us that we have a beautiful baby girl. I thought I was trapped in an episode of the Twilight Zone. I expected to hear Rod Serling’s voice explaining to the audience why our child was a flesh torpedo. My first concern was how do we feed it? My second was back to that hammer. Because whatever this is it must not be allowed to live. What if it breeds?

I glanced at my wife with a look of “Dear God, what have you done”? My fear filled the room and she could smell it. She asked if everything was alright. I wanted to scream “Hell no evacuate the building, we can only hope to escape with our lives”.

But as the nurse handed our child to my wife I noticed that the blow holes had transformed into a nose and she had ears. Her eyes were now open and she obviously had a mouth since she was screaming incessantly (I had thought that the screams were my own). I had been unprepared for what 40 hours stuck in a birth canal can do to a pliable infant. She was still shaped like a cone but the sock cap covered that nicely.

In the end we had a perfectly healthy daughter. But I still have nightmares. Late night visions of my wife as a submarine patrolling the oceans depths to keep our country safe. Shooting babies at Russian submarines.

Fun is where you find it

What was the most fun I ever had at the funeral home? It’s hard to pin down to one, that’s like asking a 6 year old to pick their favorite candy. But if pressed I would have to say it was when my partner and I traveled to the big city to pick up a body on what seemed like a normal day at work.

It was a beautiful day. The family wasn’t going to be at the hospital so we were facing an easy drive there and back. After picking up the body and heading back to the interstate we realized that we were low on gas and starving. We headed first to the gas station so that we could enjoy our meal on the ride home.

We found a self-service gas station that was manned by several black gentlemen. We pulled to the pumps and waited. After a few minutes we realized that no one was coming. Assessing the situation I saw 6 grown men wedged into the station door, staring at us wide-eyed. I asked if they were coming out and as a chorus they said that we could pump it ourselves because they weren’t coming anywhere near a dead body. We were laughing at the looks on their faces while looking for some eats and realized that we had not closed the curtains on the back of the hearse. That’s why the gentlemen at the gas station wouldn’t pump our gas; NOT while having to look at a dead man under a blanket. We thought it couldn’t get any better than that. But we were wrong.

Leaving the drapes open while transporting a body is a HUGE no-no. In respect to the deceased you always close the curtains. That would have to be fixed as soon as we got to the restaurant. We spotted a McDonalds and headed that way.

But before we could get in the parking lot we found ourselves locked in mortal combat with a redneck in a jacked up mustang. He must’ve fancied himself a fighter pilot because he did donuts around us as he pretended to strafe our hearse. When we finally parked he slid in beside us. We jumped out and opened the side doors to close the curtains. As we were doing so this bearded, 350 lb fighter pilot ace leapt from his car asking if I was going to get my friend anything to eat, referring to the corpse in the back. I leaned in and yelled “Hey, you want anything to eat”? My partner, bent down in the other door answered with “Hell no, I ain’t hungry”!

I turned back and saw that Ace and his F-15 Mustang had vanished. As if he had been caught in a time warp or sucked into a Bermuda triangle indigenous to McDonalds. We felt slightly relieved when we caught site of him racing down the street. We realized that he had not seen my partner and apparently thought that the dead man in the back had either died on a full stomach or did not want his first meal among the non-living to be McDonalds. However he was not about to hang around to see which was which.

I told you before that we put the FUN in Funeral Home.

The Home

This is my first blog for The Home. It is going to be a collection of stories from my years of undertaking. This blog is a placeholder so you will have something to see. And no, this is not an interior of the home I worked in. I will load in my stories, craft some more and work on finding some cool pix.

Thanx 4 visiting. Drop back soon. At least b4 u drop dead.