The Goodbye Girls' Blog

Funeral: Real Fun

Three’s A Crowd

Arriving at Letty’s brought more shockwaves. Squeezed into the driveway was Otto’s enormous RV. The beige and brown exterior wore a patina of green mould. Its enormity dwarfed the garage.

Standing in front of the RV were Nick and Letty. Aislin twitched as she resisted the impulse to pull down the visor to check her appearance. If she looked as wrung out and ragged as she felt, it was best not to know.

“The Beast will look less imposing once it’s been power washed. I may have to ask Nick for assistance. I tried to do it last week, but the force of the water blew me onto my ass,” Otto said by way of apology. “It’s a good sign that they’re talking, isn’t it? I know Letty has harboured ill feelings towards Nick for years.”

“She’s built those ill feelings into a towering inferno.” Aslin was unsure of the best approach. Letty looked steamed. She decided on a charm offensive.

Love Lies Bleeding

Aislin was suddenly profoundly exhausted. And she still needed to eat.

“Was a lunch break part of our itinerary? I’m so hungry I can’t remember what we’re supposed to do next. Beverly had just handed me some food when Theo burst in and started in on her. Why is she still there if it’s just a side gig and she has her own business?”

Beverly has been a joy to work with from the very first day she arrived. Her commitment to her craft is a gift. She truly cares about people’s appearance, dead or alive. She has been integral to the business. And to my sanity. As questionable as that may be at this moment. But, she understood that I needed to sell. I am deeply sorry the only interested party was the Thunbergers.”

“How much does she know about what we’re up to?”

Boxed Up

Aislin interrupted his monologue. “So, Theo, what do you know about cremation? Have you processed a body? Is that the right term? ‘Process’? How long does it take? And how long does it take the ashes to cool before you can bundle them up?”
The abrupt change of topic threw him. He sighed his annoyance. “Why do you want to know? I thought you wanted to hear about my family.”

“I was. I am. But I have a short attention span. Now I’m curious about cremations. You’re new to this business, so what’s the learning curve like? You’re so lucky to have Otto as a mentor. I mean, no one knows the funeral business like him.” She threw that in because she recalled his previous allusion to the state of Otto’s cognitive powers. Her nerves were strung to their limit. She drove her fingernails into her palms.

Desperate Times Breed Desperate Measures

Theo looked her over, then said, “Of course I have an office. My uncle just bought this place. I am the Director of Operations. Follow me.” He led her outside. As they crossed the parking lot, Aislin looked back and saw a plume of white smoke weaving its way up into the bright blue sky. Her stomach scrinched.

Theo ushered her into what was formerly Otto’s office. The door now bore ‘Theo Thunberger, Director of Operations’ in ostentatious gold lettering.

The room was transformed. The aura of welcoming comfort had been replaced by sterilized efficiency. The furniture was angular and spare, the walls an oppressive beige. The paintings were cheap Norman Rockwell reproductions that seemed incongruous and insensitive. Aislin tried to imagine what went through the minds of Twiggy’s parents as they sat there, trying to reconcile the reality of their son’s life with a Rockwellian depiction of familial bliss.

Into The Cooker

Otto slowed as they entered the grounds of The Maples. “Expect Theo to pop up unexpectedly. He has a knack for that, and I’m not convinced it’s unintentional. He’s an odd one, that Theo. I haven’t quite put my finger on why he repulses me. But, having said that and knowing that you feel much the same way, when he does turn up, it’s your job to distract him while I unload and get things cooking, so to speak.”

“Oh sure, give me the tough job! How am I supposed to distract him?”

Otto smiled. “With your feminine charms, of course.”

“Right. I can’t stand breathing the same air as that pompous prick.”

Otto swung the hearse into the loading bay, reversing smoothly to the double doors. Before exiting, he patted Aislin’s shoulder. “This part is the trickiest of this whole crazy convoluted plan. I am counting on you. Good luck.”

A deep silence settled in his wake. It was unnerving. Noise was normal. Silence was not.

The Nose Knows

Nick was waiting for them. He showed Aislin to the bathroom, then joined Otto. When she returned, Nick opened her door and gave her shoulder a quick squeeze as she slid in. Aislin hesitated as a flash shot through her of how good it would feel to have a full-on hug. It had been a very long time since a man had hugged her. The rare, quick hugs with Letty were fine, but she wanted a big, warm hug right this minute. 

“You have feelings for him, don’t you?” said Otto quietly when they were underway again.

“No, no, nothing like that. We just go way back.”

“You just keep telling yourself that.”

“Why has the traffic slowed?”

“Damn! There’s roadwork ahead. And I can’t detour around it. We didn’t plan for a pitstop, so we’re off route.”

Otto slammed his hand on the steering wheel. They had come to a complete halt. Pedestrians were passing them and staring. 

See No Evil

“Are you really okay with this? I expect they will have heavy protection on display. And, from the moment we approach, we will be on all sorts of cameras: some theirs, and some the RCMP. But, if we go inside, that’s the end of the RCMP’s surveillance. So, as Donny said, only speak when spoken to, and if they ask a question, keep your answer short. A simple yes or no would be best. I expect they will direct questions to me as they are a patriarchal bunch. So, try not to let that get up your nose. This is not the time for social justice.”

“Noted. I will just acquiesce to you, should anyone ask me a question. I mean, really? Women are still seen and not heard? Freaking believable. That 10-Gauge is a chauvinist prick.”

“Did you hear anything I just said?”

“Sorry. Done. No more rants. I shall be a model of compliance and silence.”

Otto smiled. “No, you won’t. You’re Letty’s granddaughter. Compliance is not in your genes. But just try not to get us killed, okay?”

Coffin Capers

“A couple of the boys’ have their bikes in my shop, so they’ve been gassing with one another while I tinker. Sometimes I listen. Lately, I’ve been listening.” Donny paused, enjoying the fact he had their rapt attention. “Twiggy messed with the wife of the wrong guy.” Donny drew his hand across his neck. “The husband was no Prince Bloody Charming. He had been inside for three years for manslaughter. While her husband was preoccupied on the inside, his wife was preoccupied on the outside with just about any guy she met. The day he got out, she was with Twiggy. Makes you wonder if it was a setup. Twiggy’s women, and there were a lot of them, always seemed to be married to a badass. But, he was serious about this one, more than she was about him. He was making a pest of himself. She was tired of him and realized it was in the interests of her long-term health to pick up the matrimonial thread of her marriage.”

Fishing Off The Company Pier

Sarah looked at Nick, then at Otto. “It wasn’t a coincidence they’re here, is it? You arranged to have them here. Without telling me. What’s that about? I thought we were partners.”

Aislin looked to Nick for help and then Otto.

“Nick invited me, not Aislin,” said Otto.

“And I invited myself,” said Nick.

“Still need an explanation, Aislin,” said Sarah.

“Okay, fine. I was, am, concerned about your apparent attraction to 10-Gauge. It scares me. And from the business perspective, it’s not professional to fish off the company pier.”

Nick and Otto both winced.

Keepsakes

“Here’s how the day’s going to go. All the bikes will assemble in Bowser, and then we will ride down island as a group. Make a show, you know? We expect to arrive at the park early afternoon. We want a platform, a podium, and wireless mics. And seating for about fifty. The rest of the boys will stay with their bikes on the road. When the speeches are over, the boys will fire up and leave for the campground. So, Jill, you only have to provide food and booze for fifty.” 10-Gauge paused. “Can you manage that?”

“Shouldn’t be an issue. Finger food, canapes, and sandwiches. No hot food. A couple of kegs or bottled beer? Wine? Pop for the kids and non-drinkers. Tea and coffee. Do you want a cake?”

Sarah squirmed and interrupted. “If you decide on bottles of beer and wine, we could have labels made up with a nice picture of Twiggy. What were his favourite colours? I think that would be lovely. Just not sure if there’s enough time.”

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