The Closer

You just turned 52 and your belly fat is pressed against the side of an open casket. You delicately arrange the coffin's quilted taffeta around the deceased just like you've done every day for the last 27 years of your awful life. You waited for the last of the family to exit the chapel and pull the door shut before you started the delicate work of closing the lid on their loved one for the last time. And by delicate, you mean get that lid shut and locked as quickly and quietly as possible so you can get the hell out of here and go to lunch. There's another funeral at 12:30 across town and the funeral director over there is a huge asshole when you're late.

You're good at your job, though. You almost never leave anything hanging out of the casket lid like those ladies who slam their gowns in car doors. You take pride in that, except for when you don't, and today you're a little distracted. The service you just sat through got you thinking about your craptastic life, the first set of kids you haven't seen in years, and your second set of kids who hate you.

This particular dead guy you're buttoning up died in his sleep. You can tell how most of them have died from the leftover expressions that sit faintly under the mortician's makeup. Car accidents have their own look (fear.) Suicides, too (relief.)

You like your job. Your mug has been the last thing a thousand or so people have seen before final darkness falls upon them for eternity or until they get exhumed or something. You know they can't see you but it is fun to pretend. You also don't know if you believe in their version of heaven or whatever they believed or whatever the guy giving the service wants you to believe.

Seriously. Your chubby ass has sat through baptist, roman catholic, jewish, mormon, church of christ, southern baptist, humanist, etc. services. You've had plenty of time to decide which version of an after life to believe. To you, they're all a load of crap. You have your own theory.

The way you see it, life throws you buckets of shit. So, there you are. You're standing there and you're covered in shit and you just have to take it. There isn't a damn thing you can do*. Life! If death is nothing more than a black void where you fall asleep and don't dream, then that sounds like a pretty good deal since you just spent 60 odd years covered in shit. And, hey, if there's some concept of heaven, then bonus, right?

Here you are. You're standing over this man who might be in heaven or he might just be dead. Either way this guy and the thousand or so people you dropped lids on before are finally free of all this nonsense. Sure, you're a little envious but at the same time you are happy for them, these strangers. You can't help it. A wave of emotion comes over you like a soft pink blanket and you lean in close and "BOOP!" them right on the nose.

A friendly little "BOOP!" with a smile and like a machine you drop the lid and lock it tight in one fluid motion.

You swing around and there she is. The niece is standing 10 paces away, wet eyes, big calves, red nose, tissue in one hand and something in her other hand she probably forgot to leave inside the casket.

Time slows to a crawl.

She's frozen. Blood rushes to your fingers. Your head feels light, your hands fall like stones.

There's this look on her face that you can't quite place. You're paralyzed and busted but she isn't paralyzed and you realize the look on her face is a distorted combination of two emotions. As the sadness fades, relief (see suicide) rushes over her and she doubles over in a fit of post sobbing laughter that you haven't heard since that day your ex realized she didn't have to stay.