"I'm here for my dead."
They've packed the church. Noisy one second, but quiet once I bang the doors open. It's almost hilarious how many people sitting in the rows and rows of pews whip their heads in unison to stare at me. But then again, in the small town of Oldham, I guess strangers are rare.
"Cheers," I say, to the man in sunglasses who runs up to me. I push the funeral invitation into his chest, and toss my hat to the lady who's storming down the centre aisle. Her stilettos are taller than my grass at home. To my surprise, she still manages to catches the hat soaring overhead with one manicured hand.
As she gets closer, I find I'm appreciating the look of trim fur on her dress front and the sky blue of her eyes a lot more. Gorgeous specimen of a gal, actually. Wouldn't mind her time and day.
"Who're you?" she demands, like she's in charge of this whole thing and I'm ruining it. "If you don't leave, I'm calling the police."
And not my type. Goddammit it. I stop pretending like I want to know if the fur's real or not and root in my pocket for my phone. Almost lunch time. "You got him all boxed up for me?"
"I--what?" It knocks her off course enough that I end up brushing past her, kit still hanging off from my shoulder. The church is spectacular, all tall columns, all fancy designs. Everything's glittery, like gold. Pretty sure there's even a dome addition built up in the top for the stained glass. Makes me I wish I brought a camera, because only Petey would get to have a funeral in a church and not some satanic summoning circle.
As I walk past the pews, I start to realize that Sunday Best here looks like Casino Ready. Everywhere I look, I see people decked out to the nines. Men in suits and women in black dresses, and here I am in work pants and an old hoodie. Did no one want to give me the memo?
"Hello?" In Charge lady demands from behind me. Around us, people are talking again in heated whispers with my every step. "Who are you?"
"His cousin." The people at the front part like the sea when I stop there, which is nice, until I realize that they've closed the casket. Oh boy.
The lady's caught up by the time I've hefted my bag onto the steps and unzipped it. "He said the family disowned him."
"What, he said that?" As I pull out the long plastic bag, I can feel everyone's eyes on me. I'm a show-off by nature anyway, and I like it when people watch. Crack my neck after my knuckles too, to get the right amount of dramatic flair. "Aw, Petey never did like how we did things around in the family."
If I'm vain enough, I can pretend they're admiring how good my ass looks like in these distressed jeans when I straighten up.
Casket lid's heavy, but I manage to swing it open. The resounding slam is enough to rock the very church on its foundations. In the ensuing silence, I stare down at the face of my cousin. He's uglier than I remember him, with a contour to boot. "Which one of you did the makeup?" It's so sad. Even after all these years, he can't even work a bronzer.
Then again, neither can I.
"I--I did it," says one of the men beside me. "What are you--is it bad?" He's got cheekbones that look way too good to be natural and a suit that fits too well not to compensate for something. I make a note to remember his face for later, but I'm too busy trying to figure out how to yank Petey's body out of the coffin. Death makes you stiff as a board, and with all that muscle, Petey weighs like, three cows on average if memory serves me right.
Petey's hands are already folded at the elbow. His hands rest over the centre of his chest, so I leave one foot on the step, and lift up the other at the altar to brace my weight. I wrap one arm over his chest to reach his other shoulder, and hook another under his head to twist him half around.
I get Petey's upper body ready for me to grab him by his wrists, chest to mine, and prepare myself to yank.
Three. With one mighty heave, a great big terrible sound rips out into the church.
Petey is now on the floor in my arms. He is also still in the casket. I somehow, in my fully clothed exhibitionist grace, have managed to separate a dead man's upper body from his legs with nothing but the accidental grace of my human strength.
I glance back at the lady who's now staring at Petey's severed torso in shock. Her hands are still stretched out towards my direction, frozen.
Glancing at Petey's corpse, I wipe my suddenly very sweaty palms onto my jeans. I then make a very wise, very smart, full on sweating executive decision.
"Do you got any taxidermists in town?"