The undertaker lied. It wasn’t comfortable at all! His buttocks had gone dead a while ago.
That wasn’t how he was going to put it!
He was lying in his coffin – yes – but he was very much alive.
“This is the best you can buy for money, Mr. Jones. Pure silk and lace. Our bestseller! The epitome of comfortableness, elegance and beauty,” the undertaker preached. Not how he imagined it… The forever-box was uncomfortable. On the other hand, no one could ever tell the man, that his coffins were crap.
The priest took forever with his ceremony.
“We have gathered today – blah, blah, blah – to take our farewell, from our beloved Bertram Jones – blah blah. A loving husband and precious member of the catholic community. Blah blah. He was a beacon of light for others. Always with best intentions…”–
“My ass!” Bertram blurted it out in his mind.
It cost him so much effort to restrain himself. No smirking! At one point, he felt his belly would implode, if he had to hold in that laugh any longer. But the ceremony kept on, and he had to be dead. Dead serious – crap.
He commanded himself to cut it out. This was business! He had to pee. Dammit! No more Champaign before playing dead!
His wife, Gertrud, sat in the first row. She’d be so pissed, if she knew! She’d kill him. He had no doubt about that. The priest talked and talked. Someone was sobbing. He felt a bit pity for her.
It had to stay a secret, the lottery win. The last person he wanted to share with, was Gertrud and his mother-in-law. Bertram had different plans. A house on the beach… He merited that! He truly did. After years of donkey work… Now he could afford a whole island, not just a house. And he would buy himself a yacht too. He could pick up smoking, just for good measure. Someone coughed.
“Bertram, you will be dearly missed.” The priest raised his voice. “Why? Oh, why? Lord.” He heard Gertrud wail. “Your wife and your family stay behind. Farewell, Bertram Jones. Farewell.”
The priest walked now to his coffin. This was the sign! People would stand up and come to look at him, one last time.
“Self-control now, let the stink win.” Mr. Jones spurred on. The priest dropped a small vial with dead-opossum-odor, or was it raccoon piss? The stench would make sure, that people stayed the fuck away from him. That was the plan. “Take it like a man,” he cheered himself on. Eeew! Gross!
Gertrud was brave enough to come closer. She managed half a minute, brave woman. He would have needed that earlier. A Gertrud-repellant two decades ago, he’d be a satisfied man. He heard her gag a bit. Somehow, that made him absurdly happy.
Ten minutes later, the chapel was empty. Everybody fled as fast as possible. The priest said the magic words. “Lazarus, wake up,” and Bertram sat up.
“Finally!” The torture was over. Bertram wiggled his butt.
“Do you have a generous donation for our Holy Church?” The cleric asked with a jovial smile on his face. Without a word, Bertram pulled a thick brown envelope out of his smoking jacket. He pulled another one from his pants.
Standing in the doorway, the undertaker harrumphed politely, “we have to close the coffin, my job’s not done yet. Hurry.” Bertram climbed stiffly out of the casket and started to massage his bum. He forwarded the envelopes to each man. The funeral director opened it right away and started counting.
“Don’t you trust me?!” Nearly offended, the resurrected man gasped.
“Of course I trust you, Mr. Jones. I really do. But I love petting money enormously!” The undertaker’s lips twisted into a pardoning smile. “The rental car is waiting outside. A black Mustang, as you wanted. Now go on, fly away little birdy. Enjoy your remaining time, and stay put.” He added with a wink, “see you next time…”
Bertram straightened himself. “I’ll keep Lazarus, as a souvenir,” he pondered. It was good to stretch. No more problems. Not ever again.
He felt like a brand new man! Inhaling deeply the smelly chapel air, he asked for the back door. The priest pointed him the direction. Mr. Bertram Lazarus Jones strutted into his new life.
Author: Ramona Darabant
R. C. Darabant was born Romania and lives now near Vienna, where she works as a family physician. When she isn’t working, she writes poetry, flash fiction and short stories. She recharges her batteries during storms and night strolls. In her stories, there is a distinct lack of happy endings. It’s not pathological, rest assured, she had that checked.