20111105

Where the Bottom Is At

“I’m sorry about the awkward situation I have caused with my semen,” said Mo on the chilly autumn morning that Mo and his henchmen perpetrated their daring daylight funeral robbery at the Red Oak House. “I never had any wet dreams as a teenager. I didn’t start having wet dreams until I became homeless. It won’t happen again for awhile. I think I got all my junk out for now.”

Mo and his henchmen Helena and Brett-Michael had been living together in a single van for six months. It was Helena’s van, but Brett-Michael did all the driving. Mo didn’t drive because he said he needed to think and plan for their robbery.

“It’s okay,” said Helena. “I didn’t get any on me. I think it all got on Brett-Michael.”

“I thought it was just morning dew,” said Brett-Michael. “If you hadn’t said anything, I never would have noticed till my shirt got all crusty.”

“It just shot out of the cuff of my shorts,” said Mo. “I guess I was pretty backed up. And we’re all jam-packed in here together like this. It’s a fucking incident.”

“Let’s just forget about it,” said Brett-Michael.

Before they decided to become a team of genius supercriminals, Mo and his henchmen all worked the late shift together at County Line Barbecue. Mo and Helena had been together back then, but then they had a fight, and then she and Brett-Michael became boyfriend and girlfriend almost immediately.

Mo didn’t mind. Mo was Brett-Michael and Helena’s shift supervisor. He was twenty years older than both of them and he knew it was never going to last between him and Helena.

“She was in love with a younger version of me that didn’t exist anymore, and I was in love with an older version of her that wasn’t there yet. We reached out for each other, but we couldn’t grab hands,” explained Mo to his best friend Spider Steve one night at the Chili’s bar across the street from County Line Barbecue.

When all three of them got fired for drinking on the job, Helena and Brett-Michael let Mo crash on their couch on the East Side for awhile.

Helena had a little money saved up, but not much. She was saving up to go back to school. When the money ran out and they still couldn’t find jobs, they all moved into Helena’s van where they took turns roaming around the city looking for work.

“When you are homeless, you never have an opportunity to get your junk out,” said Mo. “You can’t do it in the street. That’s illegal. You can’t do it in a public bathroom. That’s illegal. You can’t do it at the park. That’s illegal. I always wondered why homeless guys are always on edge, and that’s why. You take it for granted that you can get your junk out whenever you want in privacy. But when you are homeless, you are always in public. You are a public fixture, like a sidewalk or a lamp post. You know the only thing you can do wherever you want, whenever you want? Get drunk and die in the street. You guys are lucky. You guys have each other.”

It had been Mo’s fault that they had all been fired. One Friday night, Mo brought them a handle of bourbon and they drank it out of paper cups while they worked. They had done this before, but this time Mo got into a shouting match with one of the customers about a hair in the mashed potatoes.

None of the employees had blonde hair, said Mo. The customer didn’t care. She called the cops when Mo threatened to smash a bottle over her head. The cops actually showed up and looked at the surveillance footage. When the district manager saw Mo pouring bourbon, everybody lost their jobs.

“Fuck it all,” Mo said at the time. The three of them celebrated their termination from County Line Barbecue with another night of dedicated inebriation.

“Whiskey is my ‘undo’ button,” said Mo.

“Like button,” said Brett-Michael

“Like button,” said Helena.

After they moved into Helena’s van, they tried dealing pirated computer games and video editing software to high school students, but they didn’t make many sales.

On the first chilly night in October, after Mo had been gone for a few days visiting one of his ex-girlfriends, he came back with a handgun. The three of them crouched in the back of the van, silent as God, as he un-wrapped the gun from the oily rag.

“Don’t worry,” said Mo. “I can’t afford bullets. No one is going to get hurt.”

“What’s the gun for?” asked Brett-Michael, nervously.

“Parity,” said Mo. “In case one of those high school kids tries to rip us off.”

“But aren’t we trying to rip them off?” asked Helena.

“At all times,” said Mo. “In every way possible.”

One night, Helena took the gun out of the rag and wouldn’t stop playing with it. She seemed like she was in a trance, so Mo gently asked her what she was doing.

“I think we should rob a funeral,” said Helena. “I’ve thought it all out.”

“A funeral?” said Brett-Michael. “There’s nothing to steal at a funeral.”

“Sure, there is,” said Helena. “People bring all their best stuff to funerals. Death freaks people out. They bring all their talismans to ward death away. Everybody at a funeral has a fat wallet, all kinds of good jewelry, and all kinds of nice clothes. Also, they are too emotional to fight you. They are so deep into their own tragedy that they will do whatever you say. It’s good psychology. It will be like robbing robots. But it will also be good for them.”

“How do you mean?” asked Mo.

“People are trying to grieve,” said Helena. “But they need your help to go down all the way. They want to sink, so it is good to kick them hard in the back and send them to the bottom. People don’t know where the bottom is. You have to show them where the bottom is at.”

Helena stared down the barrel of the gun, flaring her nostrils. She tried to imagine what someone else would see when she pointed the gun at them.

“No one will try to be heroic at a funeral,” said Helena. “Death is right there in the room, making notes.”

“You are crazy,” said Brett-Michael. “You want to rob the saddest people on their worst day.”

“I bet you won’t do time if you get caught robbing a funeral,” said Mo. “None of the testimony from the witnesses will stand up in court. Extreme grief is one of those emotions that warps eyewitness testimony.”

Brett-Michael remained skeptical. He continued to insist that if they were going to do a robbery, it ought to be someplace that the cops wouldn’t care about like a liquor store or a dildo shop.

“Robbing a funeral is like robbing a hospital,” insisted Brett-Michael. “There have to be places in the world without crime.”

Helena, however, was in love with her own idea. Mo wanted to make Helena happy, and he also wanted to seem more supportive than Brett-Michael, so he found new reasons every day for why it was a good idea.

“People who can afford funerals are always rich,” said Mo. “Poor people get cremated and their family goes to a bar. Only rich people get to have a proper party. They will all have credit cards.”

Brett-Michael was never persuaded, but he said he would go along with the plan anyway if it was what Helena wanted. Brett-Michael said he didn’t mind going to prison. He had an uncle in prison, and another uncle who had been shot to death in Houston by cops at the same apartment complex where Brett-Michael grew up.

Mo had never planned a robbery before. He scouted the local funeral homes, looking for one that seemed secluded.

“The problem is that all these funeral homes do three or four funerals a day,” said Mo. “We need a place that only does one big funeral right before lunchtime.”

After a few weeks of planning, Mo came back to the van one day with a big grin on his face. He opened a beer and sat there grinning while Brett-Michael and Helena stared at him.

“We’re doing it this Saturday,” said Mo. “I found the place.”

“Like button,” said Helena. “Where?”

The funeral home was called the Red Oak House. Mo took them to see it right away. They parked their van across the street at a gas station. Helena pretended to buy gas while Mo drew a map of the Red Oak House on a yellow legal pad.

“Funeral homes all look exactly like the country club where I went to prom,” said Brett-Michael. “I can’t believe they have funerals at the same place where I got my first anxious blowjob from a girl with braces.”

“I used to have braces,” said Helena, giggling.

“So Mo, what makes this funeral home so perfect?” asked Brett Michael.

“They do boutique funerals there,” said Mo. “This is the nicest funeral home in the whole South. I read about it at the library on the internet. There is a website just for morticians. They only do one funeral a week at the Red Oak House. If you have money, they will do anything you want.”

“Do you know that you can get the internet in prison now?” said Brett Michael.

The three genius supercriminals watched the Red Oak House for a while, staring.

“We’ve only got the one gun,” said Helena. “And we don’t have any bullets.”

“It will be fine,” said Mo. “We’ll do it so quick they won’t even know what happened. We’ll be out the door with everyone’s wallet as fast as a scab.”

The night before the robbery, Mo dreamed that he was back at County Line Barbecue and Helena was giving him an anxious blowjob through a mouth full of sharp steel.

She was being as tender and meticulous with his dick as if she were trying to defuse a bomb. Sweat ran down her brow, and her brown eyes were terrified and full of tears.

“You are doing good,” he mumbled in his sleep. “Don’t worry, don’t worry. You are doing so good.”

He woke himself with his own ejaculation, and then he banged his head on the ceiling of the van as he scrambled to his feet.

“Shit, shit, shit!” he said. “Sorry.”

It was an awkward breakfast for everyone. They ate scrambled eggs, bacon, and hash browns all mixed together in paper cups. Then, at precisely 11 AM, Brett Michael put the van in gear and they drove to the Red Oak House. According to Mo, the day’s funeral would already be half-finished.

The lawn of the Red Oak House was full of red and yellow leaves. The leaves crunched beneath their feet as they walked across the lawn. They didn’t bother wearing masks. Their faces had the drawn, desperate look that people always got when they thought no one was looking. Brett-Michael had a black eye and Helena’s paunch hung down low over her camo pants.

The only time that Mo had been this excited was the first day of school. On the first day of kindergarten in Orange, Texas, he had been the only kid who wasn’t scared or crying. He was certain he was going to make all kinds of new friends. He had fallen instantly into hopeless love with his young kindergarten teacher.

His life had gone downhill ever since.

“But every day is an opportunity to do right and turn things around,” said Mo.

The three of them burst through the doors of the Red Oak House. There was no security, of course. There were no burly centurions with shotguns and sunglasses. No sleek ninja killers dropped down from the ceiling to slit their throats.

Instead, they found themselves in a room full of fifty people, all of whom were wearing beach clothes. The beach clothes were strange and incongruous beneath the chandeliers and high ceilings of the Red Oak House. Most of the people in beach clothes were weeping. Tears ran down their bronzed chests into thongs, bikinis, and floral shirts. One old man in a floppy hat and black socks was breathing into a paper bag, staring at the ceiling as if trying to remember something.

Heat lamps were set up all around the room, and the room was a balmy 85 degrees.

In the center of the room, in a giant glass bowl the size of a backyard pool, a dead man was floating inside a giant block of ice. He was floating on his back. He was naked and his arms were stiff at his sides. His body was covered in curly white hair, and his protruding belly tapered into weak, skeletal legs and bony feet. The giant glass bowl must have cost a fortune.

The frozen corpse was floating in red liquid that was too bright to be blood. There were dippers hanging down into the pool and everyone was drinking the liquid from paper cups, many of them sobbing as they sipped the funeral punch.

The three genius supercriminals didn’t know what to do. They hovered along one wall of the Red Oak House, whispering to each other as the funeralgoers ignored them.

Finally, Mo raised the gun over his head and puffed out his chest.

“Nobody move,” said Mo. “Everybody get down on the ground.”

The people in beach clothes all turned to stare at the new arrivals. No one got down on the ground. Mo sighed.

“It’s cops!” shouted one of the funeralgoers. He dropped his paper cup full of punch and crushed it with his bare toes.

“Is this illegal?” asked a teenage boy with zinc oxide down his nose. “Who called the cops?””

“We aren’t cops,” said Mo. “We are robbing this funeral. We want all of your cash and portable property.”

Nobody moved.

“For real?” said the man who had crushed the paper cup between his toes. He walked over to the three genius supercriminals, stroking his chin. He was in his forties and he had jet black hair with white streaks at the temples. His blue eyes were unsettling in his pale face.

He squinted at the three of them as Mo leveled the gun at his forehead. The man seemed completely unconcerned about the weapon pointed at him. Mo got a sudden chill up his spine. What if the man could tell that there weren’t any bullets in the gun?

“What are you doing here? Is this another one of Gary’s surprises?”

“No,” said Mo. “We are here to rob you. We want all of your money.”

“We also want all of your nice cell phones,” said Helena.

The man with white streaks in his hair squinted at the gun in Mo’s hand.

“That’s a real gun,” he said finally, skipping backward to join the rest of the crowd. "REAL GUN!" he shouted

There was a scream from the back of the room and then there was a silent hush. Brett-Michael ran into the crowd of people. He pulled two plastic bags from his pockets, and started taking wallets and phones from people.

Helena ransacked purses while Mo pointed the gun around the room as if he was taking roll call, always happy when the gun provoked a new reaction.

Helena and Brett-Michael moved quickly. They collected all the best stuff from the funeralgoers in less than ten minutes.

“We should get out of here immediately,” said Brett Michael.

Mo handed the gun to Helena. He opened one of the plastic bags and looked at the things they had stolen. Mo took the nicest phone out of the plastic bag and started playing with it, pressing buttons and smiling.

He navigated to his Facebook page and changed his status.

“I am committing armed robbery at a funeral home,” he typed. “I sure hope this works out!!!”

Brett-Michael nervously paced along the perimeter of the room, peeking out of every window that he passed.

“We really need to go,” said Brett-Michael. “I don’t feel safe here at all. We are completely exposed.”

“Hold on,” said Helena. “I want to ask some questions.”

Helena pointed the gun at the man with white streaks in his hair.

“How come there is a dead man floating in a giant punchbowl?” asked Helena. “What kind of a funeral is this?”

“He’s my brother Gary,” said the man. “He was an insurance executive. He ran one of the largest insurance companies in the whole South. He loved parties and jokes. He loved games and gags. We are carrying out his funeral requests the best way that we can.”

“Gary never knew when to be serious,” said the large woman in the tiger stripe bathing suit.

“He wanted to be an ice cube in a punch bowl at a summer party,” said the man with white streaks in his hair. “His will was extremely clear about this. It was bad luck that he died in the fall.”

“Why did you think we were cops?” asked Helena.

“This funeral isn’t allowed, technically speaking,” said the man with white streaks in his hair.

He pointed across the room at a gaunt fellow with spidery veins across his forehead and a walrus mustache. The man was wearing a cursive nametag that said “Augustus Revane, Funeral Director.”

“We have taken great pains to maintain the hygiene of this deceased gentleman,” said Augustus Revane, putting his hands in the air as Helena turned toward him with the gun. “No one will be poisoned by cadaver punch at the Red Oak House. He has been sterilized. Though the Red Oak House may be considered to be in violation of several minor statutes and at least one rather sizable federal law, we feel that we have actually been highly ethical in helping Gary’s family to grieve. We met with Gary several times before he ascended, and he was very specific about the nature of this funeral. We would be happy to show you the release forms and indemnity clauses we obtained.”

“You mean he wanted to be ice in that punch bowl?” asked Mo, looking up from his phone. “This was his heart’s desire?”

“My brother was crazy,” said the man with white streaks in his hair.

“Rich people are all crazy,” typed Mo into the cell phone, changing his status again. “If I was rich, the only thing I would do is eat barbecue every day.”

He checked his earlier post. Several people had commented already on the announcement of his armed robbery.

“Good luck, Mo,” said Spider Steve, his oldest friend from high school. “Don’t kill anybody. You aren't a killer.”

“Why are you robbing a funeral home?” asked Pat Conroy, who worked the day shift at County Line Barbecue. “Why don’t you rob a bank?”

“It was Helena’s idea,” typed Mo.

There was a six-year-old girl sitting on the knee of an elderly man. The elderly man was paying no attention to the robbers and kept dabbing his tears away. The six-year-old girl watched the old man cry with a curious expression. Finally, she started to fake-cry, mimicking the old man but also seeming to mock him. There wasn’t any malice in her actions, but the fake-crying made the old man cry harder. He squeezed the little girl, who fake-cried harder to match him.

“I want to know something else important,” said Helena. “Who here is actually sad and who here is just faking it?”

The funeralgoers were quiet.

“I’m serious,” said Helena. “I have a gun.”

“What do you mean faking?” asked the man with white streaks in his hair.

“We are all sad that Gary is gone,” said the woman in the tiger stripe bathing suit. “He was an amazing man and he brought so much light and joy to our lives.”

She said this while baring her teeth. She stared at the man floating inside the glass bowl with smoldering intensity.

“I’m sure you are all having some kind of an experience right now,” said Helena. “But some of you are actually sad and some of you are just self-conscious. Most of you feel dead inside because you always feel dead inside. I have a gun and I want to know who is actually sad and who is faking. Who here really wants to cry but can’t make themselves do it?”

“Don’t threaten them!” said Brett Michael. “That’s a whole other crime!”

“Is it?” asked Mo, checking the internet to see if this was true.

“Shut up, BM,” said Helena. “I need some answers. I need some statistics.”

Mo changed his status again.

“Helena is trying to figure out who is sad and who is not and she says she will kill the fakers. This robbery just won’t end!”

“Fakers gotta die,” wrote a guy named King Bishop, who Mo had never even met before. King Bishop was a mutual friend of Mo and Spider Steve, and according to his profile he lived in the suburbs of Houston and liked “food porn.”

Within minutes, this new status update got ten “likes.”

“Gary was my brother,” said the man with white streaks in his hair. “I was the only one here who really knew him. I was the only one here who really liked him.”

Helena stared at him.

“You are pissed off,” said Helena.

“That’s right,” said the man with white streaks in his hair.

“You are mad as a rattlesnake sprayed with turpentine,” said Helena. “You are all coiled up and pissed as all hell.”

“Madder,” said the man.

“Okay then,” said Helena. “Get in the pool with your brother then.”

The man frowned.

“It’s freezing cold,” said the man.

“Trust me. You’ll feel better. If you don’t do it, maybe I will shoot you and throw you in there like this was a cult ritual.”

The man stared at Helena. Slowly, he nodded.

“Get into that ice cold punch bowl that is being chilled by your brother’s frozen corpse and see if you don’t cry,” said Helena.

The man with white streaks in his hair looked at all the other gathered guests. Then he did as he was told, stepping into the punchbowl. Gary bobbed up and down as the man with white streaks in his hair jostled him and sent waves of punch crashing against him. At first, the man with white streaks in his hair stiffened up, as if he were a cat being held by the scruff of his neck. But then he relaxed into the freezing water, sinking down to his chest and closing his eyes.

“Who else?” she asked. “Who else is truly sad that Gary is gone?”

“I loved him the most,” said the woman in the tiger stripe bathing suit.

“Who are you?” asked Helena.

“I was his dominatrix,” said the woman. She stared at the man with white streaks in his hair who was up to his chest in freezing punch. “You say you were the only one who really knew him, but he hated you. You were his most bitter rival. I used to have to pretend to be you in order to get him to fuck me.”

The man with white streaks in his hair tried to say something, but his jaw was too stiff. His teeth chattered and he closed his eyes, hugging himself and rubbing his shoulders for warmth.

“Don’t argue,” said Helena to the woman in the tiger stripes. “Get into the bowl with Gary and his brother.”

The woman grimaced, baring her teeth.

“Fine,” she said.

She stripped off her bathing suit and lowered herself naked into the pool across from the man with white streaks in his hair. She glared at him, keeping herself from feeling the cold with the fire of her gaze. Her breasts floated in the punch, her giant silver dollar nipples like pink suns setting in the red ocean.

She meditated like this for a few moments, and then she began to crack. Tears streamed down her cheeks into the punch and she grabbed the corpse encased in ice, hugging it like a plank of wood still afloat after a shipwreck.

“Gary,” she crooned lovingly. ”You were total shit. You were a worm in the dirt. You weren’t fit to lick the toilet paper crumbs from my asshole. Lick my bootheel, Gary. Suck it like it was your brother’s cock.”

There was a noise in the air that made everyone turn to look.

It was the sound of a police siren.

Mo changed his status again.

“Oh no!” he wrote. “The police are here!”

“Get down and turn off all the lights or they will snipe your ass,” wrote Spider Steve. “I’ve seen them do it on Mexican Youtube. Dudes that get sniped don’t even make the news. YOU NEED HOSTAGES!”

"I don't want any hostages," wrote Mo. "I just want money."

“Wut,” wrote someone else, someone named Ken Reynolds from Iowa.

“Is this for real,” wrote Mary Chen, another person that Mo didn’t know.

“If you get shot, make sure your friend pees in the bullet hole. It will sterilize the wound until you can remove the bullet at an underground surgeon,” wrote Spider Steve.

“Gay,” wrote Ken Reynolds.

This comment got thirty “likes” in two minutes.

One of Mo’s acquaintances from the gym where he used to work posted a picture on Mo’s profile of a man being shredded apart by automatic gunfire. Underneath the picture it said “SUICIDE BY COP.” Somebody else posted a Youtube video of a coked-up Canadian trying to rob a bank, but who smacked his forehead into the plate glass door and knocked himself out when he tried to leave.

The three genius supercriminals decided that Brett-Michael should be the one to talk to the cops. Helena was busy, and Brett-Michael was good at dealing with police officers, whereas Mo had a tendency to argue.

The news vans arrived only slightly after the cops did.

Helena wasn’t interested at all in the arrival of the cops or the media. She was still trying to make the funeralgoers cry at gunpoint.

“I can feel your sadness in my gut if I stare at you in the eyeballs,” she said. “It’s called empathy. I have it.”

The punchbowl was now full of people, all of them hugging each other to stay warm. Red punch sloshed over the side, soaking the carpet where people huddled around the perimeter.

Brett-Michael crept from window to window, talking to the police on one of the stolen cell phones.

“That’s right, we have taken this funeral hostage. We aren’t coming out until we get our demands.”

“What are your demands?” asked the negotiator. “Is this some kind of politics?”

“No,” said Brett-Michael. “We want a place to live and good jobs again. And we want you to go away.”

“Why are you robbing a funeral? Is this revenge?”

“Tell them we are holding the bottom hostage,” said Helena. “Tell them that no one gets in or out of the bottom but us.”

Mo started watching the live news footage on the phone, calling out important updates as they happened.

“They are calling us ‘grave robbers,’” said Mo. “My friend Spider Steve said they are creeping up along the sides of the building, and they are gonna crash in here and take us by surprise.”

Mo squinted at the crisp, clear footage on the phone of cops in paramilitary outfits inching along the side of the building, holding assault rifles and whispering into headsets.

“Please do not try to take us by surprise,” Brett-Michael told the cops. “We can’t be surprised. We have thought everything out. There are plastic explosives.”

On the news, the cops backed away hastily, duck-walking back to their squad cars.

It wasn’t long before the body heat of all of the people in the punch bowl started to thaw the corpse. The ice receded away from the dead man’s features as the people sobbed around him. These mourners were now sticky and stained with punch. Their faces were smeared with make-up and snot. They locked arms, locked legs, and formed a red, writhing mass. Helena watched them all with her own arms crossed.

The people who were not in the punch bowl with the corpse stood far against one wall, nervously watching the scene. These were people who had come along to support their friends and loved ones. Many of them didn’t even know Gary.

When Helena asked them how they really felt, these non-participants shrugged, sighing. They smoked cigarettes and waited patiently for whatever might happen. Helena was satisfied that all the real mourners were in the bowl with Gary.

“Your sadness has thawed him,” Helena told the people in the pool. “He isn’t a joke to himself anymore. Now he is properly dead. It is what he wanted, even though he didn’t say it or write it down.”

“This is very expert funeral technique,” muttered Augustus Revane, funeral director.

Helena grabbed Gary’s foot as the last sheets of ice fell away from him. The ice sloughed off him like frost sliding off a package of frozen peas. She floated him to the edge of the bowl and picked him up around the shoulders.

“He was in a wheelchair at the end,” said the man with white streaks in his hair.

“Get me a rolling chair from your office,” Helena told the funeral director.

The man with white streaks in his hair helped Helena push Gary over the side of the punchbowl. She situated him in the chair that the funeral director brought, bending his stiff, twisted legs with the help of all of his red-stained friends.

“Now tell the cops to bring our van around,” said Helena to Brett-Michael.

“Where are we going?” asked Brett Michael.

“Mexico,” said Helena. “Land of passionate souls and stolen cell-phones.”

“They will come after us,” said Brett Michael. “They will follow us till they catch us.”

“No, they won’t,” said Helena. “Because everyone here will tell them that we were part of the funeral. They will tell them that we were the angels that came to take Gary away. No one got hurt.”

She pointed the gun at the woman in the tiger stripe bathing suit and pulled the trigger. There was nothing but a dry click. She pulled it again and again.

“No bullets,” she said.

“We are taking the body to Mexico,” typed Mo, changing his status message one last time. "I guess we are taking a hostage after all."

They wheeled Gary out the door to the waiting van as people stained with red punch followed behind them. Brett-Michael carried the plastic bags full of the things they stole. The mourners shuffled along numbly in a dazed pack. Helena put the gun to Gary’s temple, and she put her hand across his eyes so that no one could see his blank, dead stare.

The mourners seemed to be waiting for Helena to say something else to them.

“If you are the sort of person who matches their outside life to their inside life, then you must always be ready to do something crazy in order to stay sane,” said Helena to the mourners. “That’s where the bottom is at. You can live there, like an octopus on the ocean floor.”

The genius supercriminals shuffled to the van through the flashing lights and flashing cameras, surrounded by mourners all in red who wanted one last look at their dearly departed. The genius supercriminals loaded Gary into the van.

Helena never took the gun away from Gary’s temple. Though the cops knew it was a dead body, Helena’s confidence confused them, and they didn’t know if they were supposed to be concerned that she would shoot the dead body.

“He was dead when they got there,” Augustus Revane told the cops later. “He was frozen in ice, but they thawed him.”

The van pulled out of the Red Oak House parking lot. The mourners in red fell to their knees with their hands outstretched and their hair dripping red punch down their shoulders. When the mourners tried to follow the van, the red punch left dots along the concrete like the dividing line of a highway.

3 comments:

CyberStrike said...

Every time I see a new story by you it's like Christmas. Thanks.

Cy Brazanthr said...

I like this much better than your last two stories.

There's a building chaos here that explodes in a flurry of craziness toward the end but you seem to end things a little too neatly with a frankly implausible escape from the cops and I think that neat end really sells the chaos short.

Your best stories have a lot more scope than this. They tend to revisit the past and feature stories that offer complementary flavors to the stories receiving the majority of the attention. This story makes me wonder what the impact of a funeral robbery is on funerals in the future. If this is great funeral technique, then are there going to be other high-end funerals emulating the robbery? Are people going to start having security at their funerals? Will there be imitators? In such a world where the funeral robbery just is a thing, then what do people wonder about the first time this happened? What's different about the way it actually happened from the way people imagine it must have happened?

You have a potential for the richness that made Doolers and Time Box such intensely good stories and I like that feeling of reading this and hearing your gears turning but this story could be much, much better.

Albert Berg said...

I liked this. I would say more, but really that's the gist of it, so why waste words? Keep up the good work.