The Goodbye Girls' Blog

Funeral: Real Fun

Winds Of Turmoil

As Aislin drove home, gale force winds gathered force deep within her. She jammed the car into park, slamming the door behind her, not bothering to lock, then stormed the house.  

As Otto watched her from the window of The Beast, his phone vibrated. He glanced at it, saw Nick’s number but let it go through to voicemail. He slipped out, locked the door, and hurried down the street. 

The house shook as Aislin walloped the front door closed, jarring Letty upstairs in her room. Letty carefully crept across the floor, avoiding the creaky spots and quietly closed her door. 

Aislin burst into the kitchen, looking for her grandmother, looking for a fight. She scanned the garden. Letty usually left a trail of tools and debris, but it was devoid of all signs of occupation. Letty’s car was in its usual spot, yet there was no sign or sound of her in the house. 

She poured a glass of cold water and sat at the table. A few days ago, in this same room, she felt surrounded by love and a sense of belonging. Now, as she looked around, she felt nothing.

Damn The Torpedoes

Weronika thinks she knows enough to put us in a jam if she’s so inclined. She doesn’t have facts, but she has an inkling. A gut feeling that her man is no more,” said Donny. “And she’s a street fighter. She is not afraid to skin her knuckles or bloody the nose of someone else. If she feels slighted, ignored or ‘managed,’ she will capitalize on that inkling to inflict maximum pain and suffering.”

“So what do we do? We can’t do a simultaneous event for her murdering husband because officially, he’s not dead. Awkward!” said Sarah, sitting back dramatically.

Letty’s eyes drilled into Sarah, who squirmed under the intensity. “You do realize you are speaking about a crime? A crime that we are helping cover-up? It’s somewhat more than awkward. What has happened to your morals?”

No one spoke as they digested the reality pill Letty just served up. In the silence, Aislin studied Otto’s face. If any of them was capable of restarting the conversation without further igniting Letty, it was him.

Living Life Large

When everyone had served themselves and settled at the table, Otto cleared his throat. “Today, at long last, I have fulfilled my lifelong wish: I lived up to my last name ‘Lawless.’ As a child, in my fantasy life, I was a daredevil, a rule-breaker, a ne’er do well. In reality, I was a rule follower, an ethical business owner, a taxpayer, and a paycheque producer. Today, I broke the rules! I was in a biker clubhouse. The RCMP pulled me over for the first time in my life, and I’m 79 years old! I was license revoking professionally unethical, and it was the most fun I have ever had.”

Donny hand clapped the table making everyone jump. “Hear, hear! Otto, my man, you are an inspiration to all us young, law-abiding dullards. Hope fills my breast.”

Sarah turned to her brother. “What are you going on about? You’ve never been law-abiding. Ever.”

“Shush now, sister, and let the good man speak. He has more on his chest he needs to share.”

Heading To Hell

Letty untangled herself first. “Enough of that,” she said, patting her hair back into place. “Shall we have drinks in the garden so you two can fill us in on what you’ve been through? Aislin, go fetch Nick.”

A rush of happiness flooded her weary body. Nick was sitting on the front steps looking at his phone. “Hey, join us in the garden for drinks for the debrief. Letty’s orders.”

He shook his phone at her. “Something’s come up. Would have enjoyed the debrief but duty calls.” 

“Bummer. Another lethargic turtle? I like to think I am your only turtle-owning client.”

Nick grinned. “I hate to break it to you, but you aren’t my only turtle-owning client because you didn’t keep your appointment; ergo, you’re not a client. Remember?” His face deflated as his smile faded. “It’s a personal, not professional matter.” He stood up, stretched and sighed. “I’ve avoided it as long as humanly possible. You know what they say, ‘You can run, but you’re just going to die tired.’”

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 I was standing too close and 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. 

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