You've entered Melodyland, where perception is slightly skewed, potential is limitless and imaginary people live happily ever after

Sunday, September 30, 2012

My blog for 9/30/2012 VANISHED Serial



            Jerrold was not responsible for the Natalie Christophson issue.  The Veteran’s Administration would have to hold the ashes of the second Mrs. Christophson in an unmarked crypt until the matter was settled.  Jerrold was grateful this was not a decision he had to make himself--he was uncomfortable with conflict, though he managed to get the people who had come to the first funeral of the day under control.  He told them he’d hold the ashes until a decision was made about how the problem could be legally solved.  His soothing voice was one of his strongest assets.

VA always did everything possible to accommodate families. He returned to his office with only a few minutes to spare before the next funeral and gave the paperwork provided by Natalie to Cherrie to duplicate, write an explanation and send to Washington, D.C.

            “I admire how you are handling the problem with the two Mrs. Christophsons,” his wife told him.  She had waited in the office for him during the first funeral and discussed the missing urn box problem with Cherrie.  It broke her heart to know the missing box may be the end of the only job Jerrold had ever loved.  It had made him feel valuable.  She realized then what a fine man he was and how he didn’t deserve what was sure to occur. 

            Janet didn’t know what they would do when Jerrold no longer had the job as funeral director.  His military retirement would cover their financial needs, but she knew her husband would never overcome his humiliation, and dreaded what the next few days would do to his fragile state of mind.
She took his hand and he walked with her to her car where she gave him a cup of coffee still hot in the thermal cup, and the lunch she'd brought for him.

            Natalie, vindicated, made her way back to her Toyota, which she had left unlocked in the seclusion of the cemetery since her purse had been with her at the sham funeral.  She saw a forgotten book she’d left on the car seat as she slung her purse off her shoulder, sat down and placed the purse on the floorboard of the passenger seat.

            It wasn’t a book--it was a ceramic box, and larger than most books.  She looked around outside to see if somebody was near her car, had mistakenly set the box inside.  Could it have been left there intentionally?  She recalled disaster movies involving car bombs, which at first frightened her.  But this would be the first designer bomb in the universe.  She considered if some admirer/stalker had left it for her.  Nobody knew she was coming here.  Besides, there was a sticker note on its side.  “Michael Leonard Smith,” it said, with a bunch of numbers.  It looked surprisingly like the box holding the ashes of the sham woman trying to be buried with her father,  Rene Whoever.

            Natalie watched the mourners of Rene Whoever return to their cars parked along the only drive into the cemetery.   A woman in a gray suit with black edging walked with a tissue held to her face.  The woman who’d spoken up at the committal shelter turned the opposite way up ahead.  Her face was red, hair disarrayed.  Two teenagers were crying together as they walked, arms wrapped around each other.

            A dark cloud settled over Natalie.  She knew she’d added to the grief of the mourners.  Three minutes before, she’d felt vindicated.  She’d been responsible for bringing justice to her long lost mother that atoned for the years of abandonment she and her four siblings had endured.  But that had only lasted three minutes and now she felt bad again, now for those people who’d lost their mother, usurper that she was.  Would it ever go away?  She sat with her head against the steering wheel.  She was tired of hate.

            The box in her car was obviously an error.  If it was an urn, and it certainly had to be one, somebody had made a terrible mistake.  It could be her father in that box, left through somebody’s stupidity in the wrong car.  This wasn’t the same as finding a lost wallet. 

            Her feet felt like cement as she started her car and drove up to the cemetery office.


            Cherrie was alone, in the middle of filling out a form for an exhumation.  She looked up at the woman who stepped through the doorway.  The woman was small boned with black curls sprouting around her face, probably caused by the mist outside.  Cherrie’s second child’s hair had the same reaction to humidity.  “May I help you?”

            “Yes.  I found this on the seat in my car.  I think somebody mistakenly left it there.”

            It was not unusual for urns to be carried into the office.  But Cherrie's heart leapt when she saw the box.  Could it be the one?  She practically ran to the counter.  She read out loud, “Michael Leonard Smith.”  Tears sprung in her eyes.

            Natalie back pedaled to the door, frightened.

1 comment:

  1. Just read this excerpt. I've attended so many funerals this year that it's rather depressing to read about remains.