Funeral Home

Photo by Johannes Plenio on

Funeral Home, by CG

“Tell me now! Where is my father’s body? Or I’ll turn this furnace on?” Michael Griffin lowered the pointed revolver below the thick waistline of his target, the Funeral Director, Robert. Michael cupped his injured hand nervously around the silver handle of the gun. The blood dripped down his curled fingers, making a horrid signature upon the sand-colored pinewood floor.

Michael reached out to the left side of the room, found the round fuel switch, and turned up the fuel gases. The furnace swelled with large orange-yellow flames, and the whole crematory looked like the shell of a porcupine. The reddish-needled flames seemed almost like a record of the number of each dead soul that the haunted mechanism had gluttonously consumed. 

The glow from the flames itched and stung, momentarily blinded the funeral director’s sight. Impossible. I know I had locked all the doors and windows to the funeral home. He looked up over the bare shoulders of his beautiful young assistant, Danielle. 

She slowly turned; a faint trace of her burgundy lipstick smeared vertically across Robert’s Adam’s apple to his right ear. 

They both stared at the bald, middle-aged man with a messy gray beard, his brown coat drenched with rain. They recognized the homely features, as that of Mr. Grffin’s only grandson, from a family portrait at Friday’s midday memorial service. 

Michael glanced at them as they awkwardly put back on their shoes. Michael had heard many of the rumors about Robert. The funeral director had several assistants, but strangely only for a short while before, they were suddenly gone. Suspicions, however, were all there was, and never proof of any actual crimes surfaced. 

The unusual couple were angry but pitied him. They whispered what Michael had become while alone in his crazy grief.

Robert had quickly zipped up his pressed slacks and then buckled his belt. Danielle had buttoned and tucked in her blue silk blouse. The fabric was translucent in the massive glow of the furnace, and Michael stared with a smile at her large cup brassiere. Then he walked up to the casket.

“Stop! Your father isn’t inside there,” Robert said as he held Danielle’s petite dark blazer for her to put on. 

Michael walked around the locked casket. “I must see inside.” 

“Don’t damage the casket. After all, it is solid mahogany!’ Robert said.

Danielle stood closely beside Robert and said, “Your father’s cremains were put in a marble urn as principled in the will. We were ordered to execute it by your stepmother; I examined the will to confirm that. We followed all mortuary regulations.”

“Really? So you believe that my stepmother can be trusted? Michael laughed softly. “You didn’t even question the request for direct cremation. My father is very wealthy and never wanted to be turned into fucking ash. For God’s sake, no intelligence, girl! I don’t care if my stepmother told you that my father had once lived in Nepal. I assure you that he would never take to their customs. The will is a fake.”

“No matter now, Michael.” Robert had taken a step away from his new mistress, Daniel. A tinge in his feet had turned to stabs of pain in his legs. He leaned against the white pedestal beside him. The end of the column was carved into a lamb’s head, which shone like pure platinum.

“Whether or not the will was forged, no more matter to anyone because it’s too late. Robert raised his hands to the low ceiling. “A grave burial is impossible.” 

Michael raised his hands with the firearm but rested his wrists on the hollowed, bronze lion head statue, which the marble shelf of the pedestal held. 

Robert said, “I’m truly sorry. Though it’s the twenty-first century, cremation is considered just as honorary. Perhaps, you should speak with the chaplain.”

“Well, that makes it all right then! Your mistress is attractive, but I can make her hot, give her a makeover. Get into the container. We will see precisely how hot I can make you. Maybe the funeral director will not get rid of you and hire another assistant. Oh, you didn’t know about the awful rumors. It appears Robert’s assistants resign or are fired. No one in this town knows what happened to them afterward. There’s another nasty rumor that he disposes of them here in the crematory.”

Michael walked alongside the trolley, running his hand along the casket’s side. “My father will be brought back to Northern Ireland to be entombed. Now tell me where his urn is, or you’ll both be nothing more than cremains in a few hours.”

“The wake was on Friday, and you might’ve had an opportunity to get possession of his urn. However, you lost it. Mr. Grifflyn’s ashes were immediately flown by private helicopter and spread over Lake Klamath in Utah,” Danielle said.

“Robert, remove whoever’s body is lying inside there, and you get into the casket,” Michael said. His blue eyes darkened to the black shade that matched the funeral director’s dyed hair. 

Robert and Danielle’s eyes widened, petrified of the reddish-orange flames inside the furnace. “Your father is dead, and nothing in the world, including our deaths, will change that. He had a respectful and lovely wake: no embalmment and no morticians,” Danielle cried.

“No burial plot to put a proper headstone either, bitch!” Michael pushed Robert into the lock. “Open it.”

Danielle ran toward the closed doors. Michael aimed at her knees. “I’M NOT AFRAID OF YOU, MICHAEL.”

Michael shot her in the foot, and Robert caught her falling backward and sat her up against the wall. 

“Now, open the damn casket and climb into it. Do it, Robert! Or I’ll blow her brains over the fucking paneling.” Robert stumbled away from her. The bright ceiling light and the eerie flames caused him to have vertigo. The fire looked grayish-blue like the wintry rain pouring hard outside.

“I don’t give a shit about her!” He pushed the pedestal hard with his foot, emphasizing her melancholy aloofness. The pedestal toppled over the trolley just as a tree was struck by lightning fell on the funeral home’s roof, and the statue flew and hit Michael’s face, breaking his nose and splitting his lips.

“You should have listened when I said I wasn’t afraid. Any more than the lamb with the lion.” Danielle watched Robert pick up the gun from underneath the pedestal and fire.

The next day the widow of the funeral home had a sign that read: Funeral Director Assistant Needed. Will Train. Ask Inside.