It started off being the kind of day that looked to be promising for Wilf, being into the kind of occupation he was. The explosion had resulted in a whole slew of deaths, with the survivors being either rushed to hospitals or the luckier ones going home to recover from the trauma. This meant that he and his assistants would have their hands full – what with all the embalming and other details concerning the funeral arrangements that kept body and soul together – his, not theirs.
Anyway, as the corpses kept rolling on in, it was all Wilf could do to get the boys to handle the rush. He couldn’t turn folk away either, as the superstition passed down from his father, and his father before that, wouldn’t allow for it. And so they worked – all morning, all afternoon, all evening, and well into the night, until they were all done. After that it was a matter of getting out the ‘costume’ so he could play the mournful undertaker role, complete with dour expression and teary eyes, leading the singing of the hymns and looking appropriately mournful. In reality though, he was ecstatic inside, as the sudden influx of income came at just the right time, when he needed it most.
Wilf was actually sick to death of this business and couldn’t wait to get out of it – the only problem for him was that it had been passed down to him from generation through generation and it seemed to him that he would be ‘letting the side down’ if he let it go. The fact that he never got married and didn’t have an heir, though, did leave him with a way out of the dilemma. Then again, the income that the business brought in wasn’t to be sneezed at, and if he did decide to dump the business, he wondered at what he might do instead. The income from the sale of the business would be substantial, so he wouldn’t need to worry too much for a long while. He showered, and as he finished dressing he looked in the mirror at himself – and then he felt from somewhere inside his chest, the sledgehammer slam against his heart and watched himself lurch forward – and then the lights went out.
He figured out he was dead the moment he came to, and found himself floating above his body, now lying in a coffin. It was one of his primo models, all fluffed up with satin on the inside of the mahogany casing. He watched, as his relatives, friends and some acquaintances trooped in and sat around the room, speaking in low voices and shaking their heads in wonder at his passing so soon. His assistants had done a sterling job with his corpse and he thought he looked quite spiffy in his nearly new suit. He suddenly realized he was feeling quite knackered, and as the coffin was being shut he felt like he was drifting off to sleep.
Wilf felt great – it was a warm, comfortable, feeling – half awake, but not wanting to move or wake up. Then he felt a tug, as if someone was trying to wake him up – and the next thing he knew was the brightest flash of light he had ever experienced as he was yanked from his comfort zone into the cold light of day. He felt a smack jolt him into awareness and heard a voice say:
Yep, it’s a healthy looking boy all right.