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The Undertaker Always Rings Twice

That Mr Perkins, he’s still alive. Twenty-four hours later, I seen him opening up the front of his mercantile, like nothing ever happened to him atall.

Damn him and his weak heart.

I drove out of town to blow off some steam. Took my jug of moonshine with me. It never hurt to be prepared for emergencies.

No moon lit the fields I drove through. Halloween. It was always the darkest night of the year.

I liked it that way.

I took a slug of my shine and listened to static on the radio. Made me feel less alone on the road in the dark. The moonshine, not the radio.

I come up to a T-junction and almost plowed through an accident. Just happened. Two big farm trucks. One laid over on its side. The other one was all mangled.


I jumped out of the ambulance and run around the front. One body off in the ditch. Another one stuck through a broke windshield. Two more all knotted up in the middle of the road.

All of them breathing. It was my duty to check.

I hightailed it back to the ambulance. Opened up the back and got out my kit and ran back to those poor people as fast as I could.

When I drove the end of the pick axe through the first man’s head, I don’t even think he noticed.


Welcome to The Undertaker Series, a set of stories inspired by my father. He told me a story late one night, on our trip to Tennessee. If this is your first visit, please click here to go back to the beginningclick here for the second post and go here for the third post in the story.


It Don’t Matter How They Die

Somebody has got to die around here. Soon, or I won’t be eating much. Seems like this Great Depression would knock people off left, right and in between, but no. Even Mrs Anderson, all eat up with cancer, is still hanging on.

I was sure she would cooperate and die by now.

Don’t help that I got a hangover today. Too much moonshine, down by the river. Old McSweeney and that I-talian ended up joining me for a jar or several. Get them drunk, and they ain’t so bad.

That Mr Perkins, over at the mercantile, he been bugging me to see a dead body. Since he’s known to have a bad heart, I figure he might die before somebody keels over and does it for him.

So, I hatched a one of my Hungover Plans as soon as he knocked on the front door.

“Why, Mr Perkins. Today is your lucky day. I happen to have a body, freshly dead, down there in the basement.”

He took off his hat and followed me down the stairs. I walked up behind him.

“See here? Rigor mortis.”

Mr Perkins moved closer to squint at the arm that hung out from under the sheet. “Can you make it bend at all when it gets like that?”

“Not atall. And, see this leg right here? It’s longer than the other one.”

About that time, the body sat up under the sheet. Started moaning. Loud.

Mr Perkins’ eyeballs almost busted clean out of his head, and he hightailed it out of there faster than I ever saw a human being move. Broke one of my good lamps on the way out the door.

I followed him, pretending to apologize, but really I hoped he’d have a heart attack and expire on the way home.

I’m still waiting for that call, but I did tip my boy with a jar of my best moonshine for doing his part.

Welcome to The Undertaker Series, a set of stories inspired by my father. He told me a story late one night, on our trip to Tennessee. If this is your first visit, please click here to go back to the beginning and click here for the second post in the story.


Games of the Dead and Dying

I drove my truck back to the home. My home. The funeral business ran out of the basement. I figured Mrs Anderson had a few days, tops. That Mr Anderson was a weenie. She always said so, when we was stuck between her calico sheets. I’d talk him into sending his wife off in style.

My basement had been empty for a month.Them two other jack legs in town stole people who rightfully belonged to me. Old McSweeney beat me to that monster of a wreck out Highway Nine. Five people died, and he claimed every one by the time I got there.

Him and his dumb ass name. McSweeney’s Palace of Eternal Rest. I don’t understand why people try to dress up death with flowers and perfume and visions of the happy hereafter. It’s all going to rot in the end.

And, that other one, that I-talian, he charges everybody for services he don’t even do. Why, I once saw him switch out a fancy casket for a pine box right there at the hole. I think he sold that casket a dozen times. Swindles them all, right when they’re the most vulnerable.

They deserved to be toyed with in the worst way. Both of them.

I grabbed my jug and headed back out to the ambulance. Squealed out of my driveway, my siren blaring all through town. Past Old McSweeney. I gave that I-talian the finger for good measure.

They jumped in their ambulances and followed me, hoping for at least one corpse at the end of the chase. That I-talian even rammed my back bumper one time as we shot over the hill out of town. I floored the gas and left them in the dust. Whatever my business woes, I always had the best ride.

When they caught up to me, I was sitting down by the river. Slugging moonshine out of a jam jar and watching the light dance on the water.

If nobody would cooperate and die, at least we undertakers had our games we liked to play.

Welcome to The Undertaker Series, a set of stories inspired by my father. He told me a story late one night, on our trip to Tennessee. If this is your first visit, please click here to go back to the beginning.


The Undertaker Always Calls on Halloween

It’s my favorite holiday. All Hallows Eve. People laugh all nervous when I say that, ’cause they don’t know what to do with me. To them, I am the personification of death.

I’m an undertaker.

Hard times, these. Two other funeral homes within range of my small town, and this valley don’t yield enough death. I compete with them, you know. For the bodies. Someday, somebody might come up with a better way, but in 1929, I do what I have to do to put food on the table.

Last week, I visited the bedside of a dying woman. My good friend Mrs Anderson. She was eat up with the cancer. I could see it, running along the skin under her skull. Almost didn’t recognize her.

I wore my best suit. The black one. And, I took a rooster for the family. Freshly killed by my hand. Wringing necks is my specialty. I don’t have a problem picking them up by the head and swinging them round til they’re dead.

When I walked through their front door carrying its carcass, I wiped my hands on my pants leg to make sure I got off all the blood. Families, they don’t like to see blood.

They didn’t notice. People grieving don’t see much. There’s a cloud hangs over them, this breathing thing that waits to take their loved one away.

I seen it. Lots of times.

Especially on All Hallows Eve.

Mrs Anderson was spread out on the bed, under a gas lamp. Her eyes was all sunk into her head, but she still knew me. Still held out her hand when I leaned on the quilt she made.

I knowed you’d come.

She whispered it. In rasps. But, I understood her. We always had a direct line of communication. Hand signals and knowing looks and such.

Yeah. I knew her.


When I left, I pulled her husband aside.

I’m so sorry. Won’t be long now.

I reckon not. He looked at the wide boards of the floor.

You send somebody for me. Straightaway when she breathes her last. I don’t want nobody else touching her.

Those boys from across town have been by. Making noises.

I pulled him into a corner. They won’t take care of her. Not like I can. You come get me, you hear?

When I stepped off the front porch, I knew I said enough to scare him into making the right call. To me.

The Undertaker Supreme.

Welcome to The Undertaker Series, a set of stories inspired by my father. He told me a story late one night, on our trip to Tennessee. This series puts my spin on the whole thing.


The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree

Dad has two retirement hobbies, both of which are work. 1. He refinishes antiques and foists them on people; and 2. He works for a funeral home.

Actually, he just quit the funeral home. For the second time. I’m convinced he’ll go back, but I don’t want to think about that right now.

On our trip to Tennessee, he told me stories about undertakers. About funeral homes. About dead people.

We were sitting in the living room of some people he knew from eons ago and hadn’t seen in decades. He just drove up to their house in the dark and knocked on the door and said, “Here I am!! Huh!!”

And, he whipped out this story about death and dying.

I’m not going to tell Dad’s story for Halloween. Not exactly.

But, in the coming days, I am going to put my own riff on it. Because, you know me.

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.


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