Skip to content

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.

Often.

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.

Mwuh-hahahahahahahaha!!

53 Comments Post a comment
  1. It’s as if I can hear your father telling the tale, after all the little clues that you have given us of his way of speaking.

    October 28, 2012
    • By the time I’m done with this one, I don’t know if Dad will recognize it. :)

      October 28, 2012
  2. Fabulous, Andra!
    Grisly, poignant, and quite dark! Perfect for Halloween week!

    October 28, 2012
    • I don’t know where all this dark stuff comes from, Tom, but it’s fun to write.

      October 28, 2012
  3. James Moffitt #

    this blog post reminds me of when McAlistair & Smith funeral home came to take our Jessica to the funeral home. It was 4 am in the morning and we lived in a double wide trailer in Goose Creek. My pastor and was there along with several other close friends. I remember how gentle and respectful they were with regards to the timing of doing their job. They encouraged me to help them with moving her body off the bed. I guess I will never forget those moments….

    October 28, 2012
    • James, it breaks my heart to think you you and Katie having to endure this pain. My sister who lost her husband to a brain tumor shares similar memories and pain.

      October 28, 2012
      • James Moffitt #

        Thanks Cheryl. :) For the most part, we try to cling to the good memories of our Jessica. Our hope and belief is that one day we will be reunited with her.

        October 29, 2012
    • I am so sorry, James.

      October 28, 2012
      • James Moffitt #

        I am sorry for being such a wet blanket on your blog post Andra.

        October 29, 2012
    • I am so very, very sorry for your loss. I wish the words didn’t feel so empty.

      October 29, 2012
      • James Moffitt #

        Lori, your words do not sound empty to me. Thank you so much. It means a lot to me. :)

        October 29, 2012
  4. I am of the undead, merci.

    October 28, 2012
    • mtm #

      Undertaker, Pirate…it’s all the same.

      October 28, 2012
  5. A wonderfully macabre creation. Now you’ve got me thinking about just how far he’ll go to put food on the table.

    October 28, 2012
    • I had you in mind when I thought about this series, since you like my dark ones. :) I hope it stands up in the end.

      October 28, 2012
      • I’m sure it will. I also liked the stories about your Dad. Reminds me of mine – he only technically retired, and could strike up a conversation with complete strangers. I miss him.

        October 28, 2012
  6. OOooo….. good material for All Hallow’s Eve. We had relatives who were undertakers and my godfather was a monument maker. We had chipped angels in our yard – and a limo was a wedding gift. We drove away in style in the 70’s. hahahahha

    October 28, 2012
    • A limo, not a hearse, right? Wow, Penny, that would be something, driving off from one’s wedding in a hearse………

      October 28, 2012
      • Ha! No, it was a limo and quite the treat in the ’70s.

        One of the cemeteries here has the grave of a bride died on her wedding night. Resurrection Mary. Buried in her wedding dress. She didn’t die on Halloween, but the legend always takes on epic proportions at this time of year.

        October 28, 2012
      • Well, THAT’S a creepy story, Penny. Did her husband kill her, or did she die of natural causes?

        October 28, 2012
  7. Eww . . . perfect for Halloween. Undertakers creep me out!

    A few years ago, I heard an interesting, and rather gruesome tale, on a radio news report, about a very tall man who died in South Carolina.

    After preparing the body for burial, the funeral home realized that the body was too long for the casket. Rather than contacting the family to make other arrangements, the funeral parlor just cut off his legs.

    Eeewwww . . . .

    If you live in South Carolina, like Andra and MTM, you do NOT need to worry about going to this funeral parlor as they have since lost their license to practice Mortuary Science. I guess the state felt that they should have measured twice, rather than cutting once.

    October 28, 2012
    • I remember that story, Nancy. We do have our share of crazies in South Carolina.

      October 28, 2012
  8. Your tone reminds me of my former mother-in-law who was from the country of South Carolina. She always listened to the twice daily death and funeral report on the small AM radio she kept on a peg in her kitchen. Death is a social event in small towns. Besides being a tragedy for the family, that is. And in small towns, all the most respected men (and more and more women) work in them too. The brother-in-law of that same MIL works at the local funeral home, the one that still broadcasts their death and funerals report two times daily…

    October 28, 2012
    • I didn’t know there were death broadcasts. Interesting. My Dad’s sisters all cut obituaries out of newspapers and mailed them around for years. Almost always obituaries. I’d always laugh when I opened the envelope.

      October 28, 2012
      • My mother still does this if there is one she really wants me to see/read. And I’ve been known to do it too. :-)

        October 29, 2012
  9. So creepy!!

    October 28, 2012
  10. I love this guy already. Can’t wait to read more.

    October 28, 2012
    • I hope he’ll be likable all the way through. We’ll see.

      October 28, 2012
      • I like him even if he isn’t likable . . . He’s the creepy guy you love to hate.

        October 28, 2012
  11. Ashley #

    A spooky little beginning! I love your style, the way it draws the reader in … I actually feel the creepy crawlies on my skin just reading this! (Love that feeling) :)

    October 28, 2012
  12. Oh MY. It sounds like we have an affair here. This fortune teller predicts its going to be good.

    October 28, 2012
    • I wonder how much undertakers got around back then. In the 1920’s, it was a very different business, though it produced the same result.

      October 28, 2012
  13. An undertaker, Andra, Andra’s Dad, and Hallowe’en all in ONE SERIES EVENT?

    Death by Swoon!

    October 28, 2012
  14. Perfect! I know it is good by the way my face was all scrunched up and tense when reading. I can understand the role of an undertaker, but I don’t like to think about it much! And the idea of competing for bodies creeps me out…good job! Here we go again! :-)

    October 28, 2012
    • Before contracts, funeral homes did sort of compete for deaths. They also ran the precursor to our modern ambulance service, though, to me, they had a conflict of interest.

      October 29, 2012
  15. Good stuff. The Southern Gothic way of life.

    By the way, have you read Neil Gaiman’s American Gods? Something in this reminds me of that work. One of my favorite, by the way.

    Wonder if the undertaker is wearing pants that are just a little too short and show the ankle above his worn black shoes. Just an image, and a thought.

    October 28, 2012
    • If that’s how you see him, then that’s what he looks like. :)

      October 29, 2012
  16. I love this guy :-) I’ve met him many times in many places. I think I’ll recognise him myself one day. You write him beautifully, I feel sure he would approve.

    October 29, 2012
  17. Like the voice of the undertaker… parts 2 & 3 make sense now… I’m usually not late to a party… serves me right for not starting with the older Cootchies first.

    October 30, 2012
    • I should probably put the instructions at the top, but then that’s what goes out in RSS feeds. Doesn’t usually draw people in.

      October 30, 2012
      • No, you did fine. I wasn’t paying as much attention as I should… trying to catch up on a lot. I started at the top of my notices, than at the bottom, which of course would make the most sense… lesson learned with the CM’s stories.

        October 30, 2012
  18. May 19, 2013

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Freaking Myself Out « Woman Wielding Words
  2. Games of the Dead and Dying « The Accidental Cootchie Mama
  3. It Don’t Matter How They Die « The Accidental Cootchie Mama
  4. When We Are Gone « Spirit Lights The Way
  5. The Undertaker Always Rings Twice « The Accidental Cootchie Mama

Talk Amongst Ourselves

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 15,483 other followers

%d bloggers like this: