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.