+ + +
At 7 p.m., the doorbell rang. Her dad answered the door. After they exchanged introductions, her father asked her date, “Is that your car?”
“Actually sir, it’s my work car. My car is in the shop,” he said.
“Ah well, I suspect my daughter has never ridden in a car like that before!” he said laughing. “It certainly looks safe and also comfortable!” About that time, his daughter walked out to greet her date. They made small talk for a few minutes, and then her date asked if she was ready to go. She nodded.
“I’ll have her home by 10 p.m. sharp, sir!” he told her father.
“Okay! Have a great time!”
As they walked outside, she eyed the car. 'So this is what he meant by work car,' she thought. He said, “I tried to borrow my parents’ car, but they were going out. I figured it would be better to use this than canceling our date.”
“Oh, it’s cool! I’ve never ridden in a hearse before!” she said, nervously. She realized this was not going to be an ordinary date.
“Well, you’re definitely in for a smooth ride,” he said opening the passenger side door for her and closing it behind her after she got in. “I need to stop by work if that’s okay with you,” he said.
“No problem! I’d like to see where you work!” she said.
A few minutes later, they arrived at the funeral home. It was an older white home with black shutters in the historic district of their small town. It reminded her of the funeral home in the movie, My Girl. The sign said, Joyner’s Funeral Home. Out front, there was a small building that had glass windows with curtains. It had a horse statue and carriage out front. “What’s that for?” she asked.
“Oh, this funeral home has been in my family for over 100 years,” he said proudly. “Apparently back in the old days when there were horse-drawn carriages, my great-great grandfather, Griffin A. Joyner, offered a drive-through viewing, the first of its kind in eastern North Carolina. Instead of a visitation like we have today, they put the casket in little building and opened the curtains, and folks drove by in their carriages to pay their respects.”
He unlocked the door to the funeral home, and they walked inside. It smelled like cinnamon. She crinkled her nose. “Oh, you smell the cinnamon spray we use to cover some of the dead people smells. Trust me, it’s much better than the smell of decaying bodies.” She thought she was beginning to feel nauseous, but he grabbed her hand and started the grand tour of the funeral home.
The first stop was the embalming room. The floor was tiled in this room and had two metal gurneys with pumps and hoses next to each station. He went into great detail about how all the equipment worked, and then he opened the walk-in refrigerators where they stored the bodies. He led her inside. “Busy week,” he said as though he was sharing with her the local weather forecast. “We have six funerals scheduled.” She looked around, noticing that there were six bodies covered with white sheets. ‘Wow,’ she thought, ‘I’m actually looking at six dead bodies.’
Next he led her to the casket room. “This is where family members choose a casket for their loved ones. Think of this one as the Cadillac of caskets; it costs $25,000 and is our most expensive option,” he said with his best sales pitch, showing her beautiful teak casket with intricate carving detail. “This one is more like a Ford; it costs about $8,000 and is the cheapest. It’s a pretty sturdy option and is well within most families’ budgets.” It was made of metal and did not have as much charm.
Next he took her to one of the viewing rooms. It was there that she saw a small bistro-like table in the middle of the room. It had a crisp, white tablecloth, a single red rose in a vase and a candle. He walked her over to the table and pulled out one of the chairs for her. As she sat down, he said, “I actually wanted to surprise you. I thought it would be nice to have a romantic dinner for two in a quiet place.”
“Wow. What a surprise! It’s definitely quiet here,” she said laughing nervously. He sat down across from her, and a younger guy walked into the room. He was wearing black slacks and a white button-down shirt. He was carrying a pitcher of water and filled each of their water glasses. “Wow,” she said. “A waiter too?”
“Yes. His name is John. He plays the piano here during funerals, and he owed me a favor." John then walked back into the room carrying two plates with silver lids on top. He placed one in front of her and the other in front of him. She could not help but wonder if there were severed heads under each platter. He removed each lid revealing a dinner of chicken, mashed potatoes and vegetables. She breathed a sigh of relief. “Thanks, man,” he said. He then whispered something in John’s ear. John left the room.
To her surprise, she heard a piano playing in the other room. “You think of everything, don’t you?” she asked smiling.
“Well, I’ve learned how important all the details are in the funeral business,” he said. They ate dinner, and he told her about the business and his plans for after high school. He spoke with such enthusiasm about his work and future plans that she found herself warming up and becoming intrigued by him. Toward the end of dinner, he recognized a song that John had started playing. He stood up and reached out his hand. She was not sure if she should dance in a funeral home, but she surprised herself and took his hand. They walked to the middle of the room. He put his arms around her. As they started to dance, she realized she was having a great time and decided it was sweet and romantic all the same, so she relaxed into his arms. He was a really good dancer. After the song ended, he led her back to the table. John came back and cleared their dinner plates. A few minutes later, he returned with two servings of strawberry shortcake for dessert.
“This has been fun,” she told him.
“Yes, it has,” he said. “You know, you’ve been a really good sport.”
“Well, it’s certainly the most unique date I’ve ever had. But, it’s also been the most fun.”
“I have one more surprise for you,” he told her. “Come on!” She got up and followed him out of the room and in to the foyer. He sat down at the piano. He motioned for her to sit down next to him. He started playing a song and sang, “Heart and soul, I fell in love with you; Heart and soul, the way a fool would do; Madly...Because you held me tight and stole a kiss in the night...” He stopped playing the piano at that point and gently kissed her.
After he finished the song, he looked at his watch and said, “I better get you home.” She found that she was sad for the night to end.
“I’m not sure how our next date could possibly top this night,” she told him.
“Oh, you just wait and see,” he said. “You’re dating a funeral director’s son.”
+ + +
Write a funny story that takes place in a funeral home.
Thanks, Maren, for a fun prompt! It gave me a chance to step out of my usual writing zone.