“So that’s the idea… how I’d like the company to grow. What do you think?”
I looked out at the almost empty room of the Laffalot Funeral Home dining room, occupied only by my office-assistant-by-day-embalmer-by-night and my bumper-sticker-wielding groundskeeper, an improvement over last month’s meeting with only one attendee.
When you’re in the death business, it’s hard to find people who want to work for you. It’s especially hard when you have an unusual outlook on the typically grim line of work.
Emmy came to me recently, highly recommended by a reputable source. It’s hard not to hire someone who receives high praise from the Grim Reaper.
When you’re new to the business, hiring on an embalming apprentice is the way to go. Emmy learned fast and was an excellent assistant. I especially appreciated her thinking-outside-the-box.On the first day, she put superglue in the shoes of the undead. When I asked her why, she told me when the Zombie Apocalypse happened, she thought it’d be funny to watch them try and put their shoes on. I knew immediately she was the one for Laffalot.
And Earl, well, he was the best I could get, and his odd love of bumper stickers on coffins really wasn’t that terrible, especially when he maintained our lawns to perfection.
Unfortunately, not everyone appreciated our quirkiness. In the last months, I had ten assistants. I couldn’t get a real counselor to take us seriously, but I found a physical therapist who offered discount meditative yoga classes every other Thursday. I still hadn’t found a minister to give eulogies. We needed to grow, or I’d be forced to shut our doors.
“So let me get this straight, Asher,” Earl, the groundskeeper said in his classic monotone. “You want to offer unique memorial packages with abnormal names in hopes that will help us grow in the death business?”
“Yes, we can really put ourselves on the map with packages like Death By Chocolate. We can have a chocolate-colored coffin, serve chocolate foods, and of course, have a chocolate fountain,” I promoted enthusiastically.
“Interesting,” Emmy, the bubble-gum chewing, twenty-something assistant/embalmer spoke up.
“What map?” Earl asked, less convinced. “We’re the only funeral home in the Valley.”
“But most people go to Bay City or China Beach for services. With our idiosyncrasies and ingenuity, we might just drum up more business and grow even bigger.”
“You mean more than one funeral every other month?”
“Well, I like it,” Emmy replied. “We should start implementing things immediately. Maybe even print up some advertisements.”
“Great idea, Em!” I exclaimed. “With a little work, I project we could have one funeral per month… maybe even get some business from Bay City.”
“What we really need,” Earl piped up. “…is a famous customer, and ask him or her to spread the word on their Book of Faces and Tweeter things…”
Emmy widened her eyes.
“What?” Earl shrugged. “My bro’s in the bumper sticker biz. I know social media stuff.”
“Now that’s thinking outside the box, Earl,” I enthused. “If only someone famous would die.”
Just as I spoke, the tiny bell above the front entryway dinged, alerting us to a new customer.
“This is our chance, team,” I said, rushing out to meet the potential client.
“Are you the mortician?” the man asked, his eyes wide and sad.
I stood speechless. I heard Emmy gasp behind me. I couldn’t believe the famous Mortimer Goth was standing in my funeral parlor.
“Uh,” Emmy coughed and walked over to introduce herself. “Are you looking for funeral services for a loved one?”
“Yes, for my wife,” Mortimer whispered.
“I’m sure Asher Specter, our funeral director, would be glad to assist you in any way he can and give you a tour of our facilities,” Emmy said, looking expectantly in my direction.
“Of course,” I cleared my throat. “Pleasure to meet you, Mister?”
“Goth,” the man replied. “Mortimer.”
“Mr. Mortimer Goth,” I smiled. “Step right this way to my office and we’ll discuss the details.”
“So why Laffalot?” Mortimer asked as he settled into a comfy chair in my office.
“Laffalot Funeral Home where laughing a lot is our specialty,” I grinned, and then sobered once I saw my potential customer’s frown. “We believe here, at Laffalot, that your loved one’s journey to the afterlife should be smooth and that laughter has every bit of a place at the funeral as tears.”
“Interesting. So do I need to sign anything?” Mortimer answered.
“Don’t you want to hear details about our packages?” I asked, and started pitching the same ideas I had told my employees just moments before. “We offer a lovely Morning Mourning package for the early birds, Midnight Madness for the late night owls, or a Mystery package if you want a random combination of our other packages and you want to be surprised. Oh… oh! If you like thrills, we have a very interesting Take Life By the Hands Again package with a skydiving option, but you’d have to take the brief class with the instructor… that is me… first.”
“Uh…” Mortimer shrugged. “How about a simple package? Got anything with just flowers? My wife enjoyed the garden.”
“Do we have anything with flowers?” I exclaimed, clapping my hands. “We have an Azaleas in the Afterlife package, Death Couldn’t Stop Us Daisies package, and Eternal Rest Roses package.”
Mortimer seemed to think for a minute. “Roses… Bella liked roses…”
“Eternal Rest Roses it is… now if I can get you to sign some papers, tell me the size of the ceremony you’d like, pick out her final resting home, let me know when you want a service, and you’re good to go,” I smiled.
When Mortimer left, I found myself jumping up and down for joy in the lobby.
“Emmy, this could save us!” I shouted joyfully. “We need this kind of business. The Goths! I mean, it’s perfect!”
“That’s great,” Emmy said enthusiastically. “When does he want the service?”
“Two days… Saturday…”
“But you still haven’t hired a reverend…”
“Oh I didn’t think of that. Well I’ll have to do more interviews.”
“But wait! We offer a great severance package…” I called after the interviewee.
His efforts were in vain evidenced by the slammed door.
“…if you try us and don’t like us,” I said halfheartedly.
“Lost another one, Ash?” Emmy poked her head out from behind the front desk.
“I don’t get it, Emmy,” I paced in the main entryway. “I’m a funny likable guy with degrees in business, economics, religion, I went to culinary school, I do yoga, and I’m a certified skydiving instructor. Why would anyone not want to work with me as a funeral director?”
“Not everyone gets your humor, Ash,” Emmy replied in a much-too-cheerful tone. “But you know you always have me.”
I still felt dejected. I interviewed too many applicants, none suitable for the position. Everyone was…
…or really disliked me.
“Emmy, what am I going to do?” I grunted. “Mortimer and his family will be here for Bella’s service soon and I don’t have a pastor or a priest or even a military chaplain.”
“You could do it,” Emmy suggested.
“Me? No!” I shook my head.
“But you have that religion degree… I bet you’d give a great sermon… do they give sermons at funerals?”
“Not really, but I guess I’ll have to… I’m all we got,” I decided.
“Are you ready?”
I had been pacing for over an hour, drawing a total blank on the right words for my eulogy. Bella Goth was glamorous, beautiful, and kind-hearted. Everyone knew her because she had disappeared over seven years ago. The theory was abducted by aliens. Whatever had happened, Mortimer had finally decided enough was enough and to accept that she was probably dead. That’s what made saying the perfect words so important.
“The family of the deceased is waiting,” Emmy informed me.
“Here goes,” I said, straightening my tie.
Winter has dawned as the sun has set over the Valley. A great shadow passes and a rose once here is with us no longer.
In life, she bloomed boldly, opening her face to the sun and gracing us with the warmth of her presence.
In death, she still loves deeply, evidenced by the seeds she has shared – the memories of herself hidden in our hearts.
Death, like a thorn, pierces deeply as we anxiously wonder if the sun will appear again.
We enter the dark night of the soul and we cry for the rose no longer with us.
For a little while, we will bear the burden, yet we remember the hope in loss that weeping lasts only for a night.
We recall the ancient promise of those gone before us, though winter snows impress upon the earth, spring will come, and the flowers will grow again.
If only I knew how much truth my final phrase really had.
Word Count: 1489
Picture Count: 12
Author’s Note: This story was submitted for the May 2016 Short Story Challenge over on the Sims Forums. This month’s theme was growth. You can read about contest and vote here.
Asher Specter makes an appearance in my main story, The
Krazy Crazy Life of Kassiopeia Fullbright in Chapter 26. First of all, I love creating quirky elder characters in the Sims because I don’t feel like there are enough, and they are a little too restricted usually. Secondly, Asher was a great character and he deserved to make a reappearance. I also have been fiddling around with the Goth family, Bella in particular, in my stories and so this gave me a chance to write about her without an actual physical appearance.
You can read more about Bella and her appearances in my stories here. I hope you enjoyed this installation of Sim Shorts.