I wheeled my patient from the cooler in to my "work room."She was a 74 year old female who had died of natural causes. I had three days to prepare her so that the family could have a viewing before committing her to a plot next to her predeceased husband.
She was joining him after a separation of almost 10 years.
I had plenty of time to do my usual excellent job. I am a very skilled undertaker. I, Thomas Steel, didn't start out life wanting to embalm corpses. I graduated from my high school, third in my class. I wanted to be a rich and famous doctor.
So, I went on to college and studied all the courses I needed to attend medical school. After graduating from college, with a 3.7, I took my MCATS and was accepted in a better than average medical school.
It was in my fourth year there that life bit me on the ass. My parents were killed in an automobile accident. It was the typical type caused by a drunk, only in this case the drunk was my father and the innocent victim was my mother. I was an only child as were my mother and father. All of a sudden I was all alone in the world.
Having been raised a spoiled kid, I was devastated. I had no idea how to proceed with my life. My parents always made all the decisions for me. And I always went along.
For my first decision on my own, I dropped out of Medical School. Yeah, I know, that was really stupid seeing as I had only 7 months to go before receiving my degree. But like I said, it was the first decision I had made on my own.
My next questionable decision was to leave after the burial service and turn into the first bar I came across.
About a year later I sobered up one night. I found myself in an alley, behind a bar, in a questionable part of a city that I didn't recognize. In other words, I didn't know where the fuck I was. I sat there in a filthy alley, leaning up against an old brick wall.
I was trying to get myself together when the door in the wall opened and out came a very large gentleman. He looked up and down the alley and then turned back to speak into the building,
"That asshole Tony is not back with the car yet, Boss."
My foggy brain realized that he was not a gentleman. Actually he sounded like a thug. To my dismay, he saw me sitting there.
"Who the fuck are you Asshole?" he not so politely asked.
Before I could formulate an answer, a voice called out the door, "Angelo, what did you find? Is he dangerous?"
"No Boss, just some drunken loser laying here in his own piss and puke."
I started to protest, "I'm a medical student!" Now I really don't know why I said that. It just sort of came out.
Angelo reached down as if to hit me when that commanding voice said, "Leave him alone. When Tony gets the car here, put him in the trunk. I might have use for this 'doctor'"
And that's how I met Gino DiTucci, local crime boss and his lieutenant Angelo Pulmere.
I snapped out of my reverie and got back to work. The first thing I needed to do was finish undressing my patient. The nursing home had her dressed in a nice nightgown, appropriate for little old ladies to sleep in. I really don't know who they were trying to impress. I worked on my patients in the nude. Not me ... Them.
She looked peaceful in her sleep, except that her eyes were staring sightlessly at the ceiling tiles.
"Well," I thought, "I hope no one expects to get her PJs back," as I picked up a pair scissors.
As soon as she was naked, I'd give her one last sponge bath. The cleaning served a couple of purposes, the first is cleanliness, the second is odor control, and lastly to add a moisturizing cream to prevent the skin from drying out and decomposing too soon.
The object of embalming is to slow the deceased's decomposition, not prevent it. Only in Hollywood Zombie movies can decay prevention happen.
While I was washing and drying her, I examined her for any areas that might present problems while I was embalming her. Her body was in good shape from an undertaker's point of view...
I could use the single point procedure. One line in to her via the carotid artery and the line out attached to her jugular vein.
The exchange process would take about two hours if I didn't run into any problems. I would need to massage her body repeatedly to prevent clots from forming and interfering with the flow of the embalming fluid, and to keep rigor mortis from setting in too soon.
I walked over to my stereo system and inserted a classical music CD. I looked at her toe tag, "Mrs. Williams, I hope you like my selection of music. If you don't, just mention it, I'll be glad to play something else." Although I always asked, I had never had any objections.
Talking to your patients is something they drilled into us in med school. I just carried forward the same logic here,
I was about an hour into exchange when I heard my double doors open. I looked up and saw Angelo pushing a casket on a trolley into my work room. He stopped and looked around the room.
Even the really tough guys didn't like "my" work room, and his nervousness showed.
I couldn't resist the temptation, I lifted Mrs. William's hand and waved it while saying, "Hi Angelo, want to play gin while Tommy works?"
"You asshole!" he exclaimed, "Gino wants you to use this coffin to bury her in."
I looked at him. This was not an unusual request. They used my services once or twice a year to dispose of embarrassing leftovers. Only this time there was a problem. Mrs. Williams was not being cremated.
"Angelo, does Gino know that this is a burial?"
"Yeah, he knows. But there is a rush on this one. He says, 'Do it.'"
"OK, but this is an open casket. There might be an odor problem."
"There have been special steps taken so that the extra cargo will not smell."
"What about the added weight? Won't the pall bearers notice?"
"Naw the extra is a small one. No one will notice."
I knew better than to ask, "How small?"
"Ok Angelo. Put the box in the cooler. It will be at least another few hours before I'm ready to put her into it."
As I watched his back as he walked through the refrigerator door, I thought back to how this all began.
A black limo pulled into the alley. The driver stopped so that the rear door aligned opposite the open hallway entry. Tony hopped out and started to open the car's rear door.
"Hold it!" shouted Angelo, "Open the trunk first, and then give me a hand."
Tony reached in the car and I heard the lock on the trunk lid click. The next thing I knew two men were tossing me into the trunk and closing the lid. I remember being tossed around by the car's motion until I hit my head, hard. The next thing I remember, I was being hosed down with cold water and my clothes were being cut off.
It must have been a month before I rejoined the land of the living. I wasn't unconscious the entire time; I was drying out and was one very sick guy. I vomited out most of my insides, suffered through the DTs, and fought off a few pink elephants along the way.
When I was finally dried out, I knew I'd never touch alcohol again. Mr. DiTucci visited me a few times. While he had a few encouraging words for me, his eyes were never what might be called friendly and caring. Actually they were damn scary.
In the back of my mind I formed the feeling, "Paying him back is going to be a bitch".
My next few months were spent eating "healthy" food, exercising, and generally regaining my health. They were tough months, but I started to feel human again. I was never a "jock" type of guy. My claim to fame was academic not via sports. On the plus side I never had to go to those 12 step AA meetings. I never had to say my name is Thomas Steel and I'm a drunk.
My trainers worked on my mental acuity. My mind was exercised. They had me working all types of puzzles. There were card games, Sudoku puzzles, spelling quizzes, and good old cross word puzzles. They also played logic games with me.
When they were starting to make progress, I innocently asked if I could continue my education and start my application for a residency. My head rang from the hit they put on it. I had to learn to keep my mouth shut.
That night after my evening meal in my room, Mr. DiTucci paid me a visit.
"You belong to me. My plans for you do not include completing your medical education. I already have all the 'doctors' I need in my organization. You are destined for greater things. But first you will complete your training and apprenticeship under a master."
"You will be our mortician."
"Shit! I didn't like anatomy in med school. And those corpses wanted to be there." was my first thought.
"But before we expand on 'our' plans, you need to complete your training."
"And get my, license." was my comeback.
"We can get you a license, but first you need to learn the trade, and be evaluated."
Somehow from the way he spoke I knew that the license presented no problem getting. I had the feeling I would never take the tests.
Mr. DiTucci was watching my face much closer than I realized when he said, "The right funeral director/embalmer makes more per year than the average doctor. And they don't need Malpractice Insurance."
Then he grinned. It was a truly evil grin.
He continued, "I will provide everything you need to start the business. You will not need to pay me back any of the monies I place into your business. All you will need to do is provide me an occasional favor and some crematorium time."
I began to wake up.
This man's organization produced a waste disposal problem that could not be solved by putting the trash out by the curb. I also realized that I might become one of these disposal problems if I refused his offer.
"Yes Sir. I'll be the best mortician you ever saw." and so began my training.
The cooler door open and closed again. Angelo was back. I glanced at him long enough to determine that he wasn't a happy camper. My next "customer" was on a gurney in there. Angelo would have had to move him before he could put his load in there.
Angelo might be a tough guy, but like most wise guys, he couldn't quite stomach a victim he didn't create.
The adrenalin, the excitement, or the endorphins created by the commission of a crime over came the natural human's aversion to a corpse. Angelo was no exception.
"Did Mr. Denney need any attention?"
Angelo covered his mouth and ran from my work shop. I hoped he made it to the sink. I hated cleaning up.
I went back to work on Mrs. Williams. I had to keep up the massage. I didn't want any blood clots to form and interfere with the flow of the formaldehyde. Creating additional ports in a body to facilitate the exchange was just extra work.
As I listened to Angelo heave, I remembered one delivery man from a while back.
I tried to pull my dead body trick on him only it backfired. The man quickly realized what I was doing. Without a word he walked over to the woman I was working on. She was a middle aged suicide.
Because it was an "other than normal" death, the medical examiner performed an autopsy on her.
I had her on my table lying on her back with her head resting on a block. I had opened up the "Y" incision the coroner had put in her chest and removed the visceral bag they had returned to her chest.I had filled the plastic bag with a special mixture of embalming fluids designed to completely protect the contents. I was in the process of sewing her back up when Mr. DiTucci's delivery arrived.
He tossed her modesty cloth on the floor and bent over her crotch. He looked up at me and took a big bite out of her vulva. He walked out of my work room, chewing.
I didn't make it too the sink.
Later I found out that guy was a special breed of wise guy. Mr. DiTucci used his skills as an interrogator. He could cut his victim up slowly while preventing the person's immediate death. He would question the poor soul as he did the deed.
He had been known to be able to keep his subject alive for up to a week and he always got the information requested. It was said that the victim was usually begging to be killed many days before he was actually put down.
From that point on, I only messed with Angelo and the other wise guys I knew.
I still had another hour left to massage Mrs. Williams before I could dress her and start on her makeup and hair.
So I let my mind wander, again.
I was back to my early years with Mr. DiTucci. I had finished my apprenticeship and said license appeared in the mail one day, just like magic!
I was now Thomas Steel, Undertaker.
One day Angelo and Mr. DiTucci drove me across town to an upscale neighborhood. There I was given the keys to my funeral home. After the grand tour and introduction to my staff, I was taken into one of the private rooms and explained the facts are of life.
As I had suspected, Mr. DiTucci had a disposal problem. My job was to solve it.
Actually, this was a little more complicated than at first glance. The authorities monitored funeral homes closely, even closer if the home had its own crematorium. I couldn't just fire up the burners and toss in a body. I had to keep records! And boy were they a bitch. Besides the "disposal" body, I needed a legitimate corporse. With that legitimate customer I had to keep a death certificate, a permission for cremation from the relatives, a "Certificate of Weight" before cremation and another of the weight of the ashes after.
I also needed to provide description of the disposal of the ashes, ie, burial, presented to and signed for by relatives, or else I'd better have them in a box on a shelf in the back room.
The State showed up at random intervals and inspected my records. But as with any system designed by beauocrats, there were holes. And we exploited the holes. I remember how nervous I was the first time a "customer" left my business a little heavy.
I worried about the State Police walking in my door and dragging me away in handcuffs.
Eventually, I got so bold as to have a 97 lbs customer's ashes leave with the extra weight of a 300 lbs disposal's ashes.
"Grandma, must have put on a little weight, these last month's." was the most common comment I heard
Mrs. Williams was going to be one of those, but she was going in the ground, not the oven. That way if she is ever exhumed, I'd have a shit load of explaining to do to the authorities, if Mr. Gino DiTucci let me live long enough to try and explain.
That's right Mr. DiTucci is an equal opportunity employer and I'm an employee.
My classical music CD ended so I decided now would be a nice time for a break. Besides, I needed the picture of Mrs Williams that her daughter had dropped off along with the old ladies make up. The picture is so that I know what she should look like when I'm done with the makeup and hair that will provide her relatives with the familiar look and smell of their beloved.
Let's face it, no one can make a dead person look like they did when they were alive. The mortician aims to trigger those familiar sights so that relatives will say, "She looks so natural," or something akin to that. That's the mark of a good mortician.
And I'm a good mortician.
When I got upstairs, I called for my wife. It is around 9:00 PM and she should be home by now. Amy doesn't like it when there is a corpse in the house. She says it gives her creeps. She likes it even less when I work on a corpse. Rest assured I never get any sex on those nights.
Tonight will be one of those nights.
Hearing no answering greeting from Amy, I guess she's not back yet. She told me at dinner that she was going out shopping with her friend Marilyn. Well it was 9:00 and the mall should be closing. I expect her back soon.
As I opened Mrs. Williams file, I ruminate how a woman can spend so much time shopping and still have nothing to show for it.
I grabbed the picture and return to my basement work room.
It was close to 11:30 PM when I'd finished with Mrs Williams. She was dressed in her church clothes and residing in her casket, with her new roommate. She was all ready for the viewings.
Sick bastard that I am, as I climbed the stairs, I wondered if her husband was going to complain at the pearly gates about her new traveling partner"?.
I went up to the master bedroom in the residential quarters to take a shower. While I couldn't smell anything Amy always complained I smelled of death when I worked in the basement. I spent an extra long time washing with the fancy french soaps Amy kept in the shower.
As I was drying, I heard my wife walk into the bedroom. She bumped into the closet door, her dresser, the end of the bed, and one of the night tables.
I guess they must have stopped for a drink or three.
I walked out of the bathroom wrapped in a towel. Amy pushed past me and got on her knees to worship the porcelain goddess. I turned around and walked back into the bathroom to hold her hair out of the mess she was making in the toilet.
Amy had long dirty blond hair and would be really impossible to live with if her vomit happened to get on it. She wouldn't care if it was her fault or not. I should have prevented it.
Husbands have such a crutch to bear.
As I walked around behind her to hold her head, I noticed she had a very short skirt on. But what stopped me was the fact that I was looking at her bare butt. "What the happened to her underwater?" was the first thought that ran skipping across my big brain.
My little brain just said, "Whoopee!!!!"
Listening to Amy wretch, I wondered why my little head was reacting. Then I remembered it had been a little over a month since I had paid her treasure pit a visit.
My little guy was demanding his due.
I was holding her hair from the back when I noticed that the right inside of her thigh was shiny. I looked closer. It was a thick white fluid running out of her vagina. I hadn't put any "thick white fluids" in her recently.
I almost pushed her head into the toilet with the object of holding it there until she stopped moving. But then she heaved again and the sound broke my concentration.
She stopped emptying out her stomach and sat back up. She tried to cuddle with me, but I was having no part of her. She assumed it was the smell of her vomit, and asked me to help her get in the shower.
I hit the control for all eight of the shower heads and pushed her in. Since we had instant on hot water, there was no temperature problem. But she got drenched and she hated getting drenched. It not only soaked all her clothes, but her carefully coiffed hairdo. She was planning on that hair style for tomorrow nights dance at the country club.
I left her in the shower and went back into the bedroom to redress in my "work" clothes. I was too pissed to sleep and I needed the quiet my work shop afforded me to think out my actions.
I sat in my desk chair and ran over all the options open to me:
1) Divorce her? No too costly and I had no real proof.
2) I would lose all the hard earned respect that I had earned within my "extended family". If I couldn't control my own wife, what good was I too them.
3) And besides I had no proof of any specific miss deeds. Now only strong suspicions.
Those were the thoughts that kept me awake most of the night.
At 8:00 am I walked back into the bedroom to make myself presentable for Mrs. William's 2:00 PM viewing. Amy was sprawled across the bed spread sound asleep. She was still dressed in the wet clothes she was wearing when I tossed her in the shower last night. Her carefully styled hair was a rat's nest of tangles, and she was sleeping with her mouth open gently snoring.
She really did not look her best.
I wasn't very quiet as I shaved showered, and dressed in my dark blue suit. When I left the bedroom, I looked every part the funeral director. I walked into the garage and climbed into my black Cadillac.
I needed some coffee and breakfast before embarking on my plan.
I walked into a small family dinner around the corner where I normally grabbed a quick meal. At one of the tables, sat a few of the men I used as drivers, or parking attendants, or other gofers to make a funeral run smoothly.
Angelo was one of those guys.
Normally, I only used two or three of them on viewing days. The big crew, I used as drivers on funeral day. They drove the limousines, and the hearse. They provided the expertise needed to handle the deceased in and out of the hearse, the church, and of course at the grave yard.
Angelo was dressed to be an attendant. I guess he was sent over to keep an eye on Mrs. Williams. That was alright because I had planned to ask if he could possibly suggest a solution for the problem Amy presented me.
I joined the boy's for breakfast. We laughed, joked, talked sports, and generally had a good time. Angelo watched me with a curious eye the whole time. When I picked up his check, the look in his eyes changed to outright amazement. He knew I wanted something. Since he had ridden with one of the other guys, he caught a ride with me back to the funeral home.
In the car I explained my problem to him.
After listening to me without requesting any clarifications, he asked only one question, "Do you want a perminate solution?"
"OK, I'll discuss it with Gino and get back to you." was his only answer.
After we arrived back at the funeral home, he went down to the basement to place Mrs Williams in the small freight elevator as I opened her viewing room and turned on the lights. About the time we got the casket situated, the flowers started arriving.
Angelo and I spent the rest of the morning helping arrange the flowers. Soon thereafter Mrs. Williams's family started arriving. Mrs. Williams had asked to be buried with her rings on. I opened the casket and left the mother and daughter to spend this last bit of private time together.
Angelo commented on the woman's rings being buried with her and how a dishonest funeral director could profit from this as he put it,"Stupidly"
I looked at him and laughed, "You have no idea how much I'm making on this party. Believe me, the rings are small potatoes."
Angelo thought about what I said and started laughing, "You know it's just like Gino says 'don't chase small potatoes, go for the whole enchiladas. '"
It was approaching 5:00PM and we escorted the family from the room. I made short work of closing and locking the casket while Angelo misted all the floral arrangements. The last thing I did before closing up the viewing room was turn down the air conditioning to 60.
We went to dinner at the same diner we had breakfast in. There were four of us. The two outside guys, Angelo, and I. When we got there some of the family was also there. You know it's a funny study of human nature to watch the interactions of all the patrons in the Diner.
The regulars knew what the four of us did for a living. When we were dressed in our "working clothes" but because there were nicely dressed but somber acting strangers, the normal diner crowd was a lot quieter and less boisterous than normal...
Our waitress gave us "the look". When I acknowledged it and looked over at the grieving family, she nodded back. From that point on, the other waitresses kept the regular patrons toned down.
When dinner was over, I walked over to the family table and asked if they had enough room in their cars for everyone comfortably. If not I had one of the limousines out side and we could shuttle everyone back to the funeral home.
To help out the diner owner offered them parking in his lot for the evening. After that discussion it took two trips but we got the family back to the funeral home therefore avoiding their driving in a time of grief.
Plus the diner owner refused to provide a check for the family's meal.
The public viewing started at 7:00 PM. People were lining up at least 15 minutes early to be ready when the doors opened. Within half an hour, the line of waiting viewers was outside the door and I had my guys walking the line with bottled water, bottled lemonade, and some simple snacks we purchased at a nearby bakery.
I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off for the next two hours. At nine, the lines finally ended inside the front doors and since the time for viewing had ended I had my outside guys start asking people to return the next day for the funeral if they tried to get in.
When the building finally emptied out, I had one of my guys drive the family back to our trusty diner. Angelo and I chauffeured the overflow in another limousine. My crew sat together at one table. The family sat in a private corner where the diner had pushed together a couple of tables.
I was impressed that the diner's crew was this thoughtful until Angelo mentioned he'd called before leaving the funeral home.
My esteem for Angelo went up a notch. I almost resolved to stop teasing him, well almost that is.
We were discussing the logistics of tomorrow's service when it got quiet. The city's Catholic Bishop walked in. He looked around and walked over and sat with the family. Now I was impressed. The head man very rarely hobnobbed with us mere mortals. And yet there he was sitting and apparently planning on eating with the family.
I thought, "Just who the hell (oops!) heck was Mrs. Williams?"
I started making plans on how to handle it if HE visited tomorrow.
Good old Angelo had cornered one of the lesser family members. It seemed Mrs. Williams had been the Bishop's house keeper for the last 40 years. She was the Bishop's gatekeeper. If someone wanted to get the Bishop's ear, they talked to Mrs. Williams. If she felt that whatever that person was peddling was worthy of the man's ear, she started whispering in the Bishop's ear every chance she got.
That night after everyone had left and it was only Angelo and I, he helped me close Mrs. William's casket and put her back in the cooler. She was going to have a very busy day tomorrow and I wanted her to look her best.
After we finished Angelo started, "I talked to the boss. He wants to gather evidence of your wife's fuckin' around (Angelo is not the most discreet individual), before he decides what action to take. You are to keep your mouth shut and pretend to be a loving husband. Do you understand?"
"Ok, let us handle this. And that's an order."
After he left, I climbed the stairs to our master bedroom. I undressed hanging my suit and tie on my side of the closet. I headed for the shower. It had been a long day and I was tired. When I finished and climbed into an empty bed, I realized that I had not seen my wife all day.
"Fuck her!" I thought and fell sound asleep.
The next morning I awoke to find Amy sleeping next to me. Her clothes were thrown about the bedroom, she was again snoring. But this morning she stank of booze, cigarette smoke, and sweat. I guess she was too tired to shower before going to bed.
One more wake up like this and I was going to start sleeping in one of the other bedrooms. I was not going to put up with this kind of treatment. I got up and made my morning ablutions.
I must have been too noisy (on purpose) because I got a nasty look and a sarcastic request to "try and keep it down."
I told her I don't feel well. "I must be coming down with the flu." I mumbled an apology, but somehow managed to slam the bedroom door when I left.
I went downstairs and got Mrs. Williams out of the cooler. After checking her both visually and for any tell tale odors, I put her on the small elevator and sent her upstairs to the viewing room. There I placed her casket flowers in place and checked the rest of the arraignments for signs of aging. There were a few buds and leaves that I needed to remove. But all and all, they were holding up better than expected.
As was our custom on the day of a funeral, I had a full crew on. One of the group picked up some donuts and coffee from the local Dunkin Donuts. A couple of dozen and some coffee went into my guys break room. The majority went into the family waiting room. For the family, it would be a long, stressful day.
The family and a few friends arrived and took sustenance and comfort in the coffee and donuts.
As the funeral began, I felt a hand on my arm. I looked around and found a young priest standing there.
"If HE has the occasion to visit here in the future, please arrange to have a plain bagel. That is his preferred breakfast," was all he said.
I kept my comment very polite, but inside I was fuming. "The Balls on that kid!" I thought.
The family finished up in the viewing room. It was the last time they got to look at her, I got Mrs. Williams ready to take her ride to the church while my guys loaded up all the flowers that would fit in the two extra hearses I owned.
When everything was loaded, I started the motorcade to the church.
Arriving at the church I was shocked, every parking spot both in the parking lot and on the street were taken. Some of the people had started parking on the lawn. We pulled up in front of the doors and started carrying all the florals, except the casket arrangement into the church.
The church was standing room only. I began to wonder if I had room for Mrs. Williams let alone all the flowers. Luckily the rector and his helpers helped in finding places for everything. I guess he wanted everything perfect because the bishop was here.
I arranged the pall bearers at the top of the stairs just inside the front doors, with instructions not to touch anything until they were instructed to. My guys were trained in carrying a "customer" up or down stairs and over uneven ground.
At no time was Mrs. Williams to leave the horizontal position.
When she was placed on the cart, I instructed the pall bearers to place a hand on her coffin, but let my two guys (one front and one rear) proved the locomotion and guidance.
I nodded to the Bishop that we were ready.
He started the service.
The organist started the processional.
The congregation stood.
I almost shouted, "Let the parade begin." I said almost. I kept my mouth shut.
The service ran a little over an hour. The Bishop was a little long winded in his praise of Mrs. Williams.
We got everyone loaded and started the procession to the cemetery. It was a long line of cars, I was glad that I had requested extra traffic officers to accompany us.
Arrival at the graveyard was always a traumatic time for me. I could envision the caretakers guiding us into a dead end or even worse, the wrong grave site. But thanks to good fortune, we pulled up in front of the site.
My professional eyes surveyed the set up. It was well done. The hole was ready with the equipment for holding and then lowering Mrs. Williams into her new home. There was green carpeting placed over any damaged or bare soil, plus there were about 100 folding chairs set up under a tent, and bless their hearts, some of my guys must have transported all the extra flowers to this location.
Mrs. Williams was receiving a very nice sendoff.
We unloaded Mrs. Williams from the hearse and my guys carried her to the grave with the pall bearers and family walking behind.
The Bishop led the way.
It was a typical grave side service. The only thing different was the fact that, and I swear, all the guests placed a flower on her casket. When the time came, it looked like a mound of flowers was descending into the hole.
Mrs. Williams was now in her new home.
As I was helping the relatives into the limousines, the Bishop walked up to me and said, "Thank you and your crew for the very profession sendoff you gave my housekeeper. She would have loved it."
He patted my arm and went about greeting all the attendees who were hanging around him.
We dropped the family back at the funeral home to their transportation home. After the lot emptied, my guys and I followed our usual tradition and went to either a late breakfast or early lunch at our local diner.
The next few weeks were a little busier than usual. I attributed it to Mrs. Williams. Her funeral was the talk of the area and a lot of people want their loved one to piggy back on her fame.
I didn't mind the extra income.
I suspected that I'd need the extra to pay court costs and attorney fees generated by my soon to be started divorce. Amy? She didn't have a clue. She kept going out 2-3 times a week, "with her girlfriends, shopping."
One afternoon right after Amy left to go "shopping", Angelo drove in with two rather well dressed gentlemen. There were not the usual traveling companions I was used to seeing Angelo with. His normal friends, for lack of a better term, were best described as thugs. The kind of men you didn't want to meet in a dark alley.
This time one was a small, and bookish in appearance. He was partially bald and wore very thick glasses. The other gentleman was very distinguished looking with silver hair, perfect teeth, and a deep tan.
Angelo introduced them to me as Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones. They were Mr. DiTucci's bookkeeper and attorney. (I'll let you guess which was which). We had a very nice chat in my office.
And you were right they had waited for Amy to leave before pulling in.
As a result of our meeting, Mr. Smith left with a record of my financial accounts, promising to have them returned to me, divorce proof. Mr. Jones explained the legal stuff to me. He said I would be the injured party in this suit and as such would receive the bulk of the assets.
He also mentioned that I would be protected by my prenup.
"Prenup? We don't have a prenup."
"You will. It's being created as we speak."
I started to open my mouth again, but Angelo put a hand on my arm. I kept my mouth shut.
Mr. DiTucci employed some interesting professional help.
Poor Amy. I had the feeling she was really going to get screwed in more than the ways than she liked.
That night when Amy was not home by 6:00 pm, I took myself out to a club for dinner. I ran into a bunch of friends and had a lot of fun. To be exact, so much fun that I had to take a cab home at midnight.
Amy was pissed when I got home. She lit into me about being inconsiderate of her and not telling her I was going out. She had prepared a nice dinner (read ordered take out) for us and had plans for a romantic evening.
"Yeah right," I thought, "Like I want sloppy 2nds or 3rds."
I was banished to one of the other bedrooms that night.
"You stink. You're drunk. You're not sleeping with me until you apologize."
As I dropped off, I pondered if I should start moving my things into one of the other bedrooms. But I decided against it. I'd only have to move everything back in a few months. And besides, I had more stuff in the closet than she did.
If she didn't like it, she could move her shit.
Another month went by. Angelo kept bringing me forms to sign. At first I asked what I was signing.
'Shut up and sign," was all he said.
I stopped asking and just signed.
One afternoon, he showed up while I was eating (alone as usual) at the club. He handed me an envelope and a brochure for a funeral directors convention in LasVegas.
It was next week.
"Your flight leaves Friday morning. All the details are in the envelope. You are to go there and have a very public good time. Visit the shows, the booths and any place where you will be seen and remembered. Do not bring back any STDs! Stay away from all the women. You need to present the impression you are very dedicated to your wife."
I opened the envelope, there was only one ticket and the hotel reservations were for one. I guess Amy wasn't invited.
I looked at Angelo. "She'll be fine. But her boy friend won't be. She'll blame you, but you'll be in Nevada
Amy was still sleeping from another late night when I left in the morning.
So all I did was leave the brochure with, "I'm here all week," written in marker across the front.
Then I caught a cab to the airport.
It was a typical boring flight to LasVegas. The cabin attendants were marginally friendly, there was no food, and the seating in coach was cramped and uncomfortable. Some day I'm going to be rich enough to fly 1st class, or even rent my own plane.
It was a couple of hours from when the wheels touched down to when I finished putting away my suitcases. Ok I was excited. I'd never been in this entertainment mecca before and I wanted to see and do everything before leaving next Friday.
My first job was to register for the convention. So off I went to find the registration suite. I was in the Mirage and that's a big hotel. It seemed like it took me fifteen minutes to find the the convention registration desk. It was staffed by two of the cutest young ladies it had ever been my pleasure to meet. Since I was early, Sally Kelly and Millie Schmidt took their time and walked me through all the sessions and explained their content.
I was impressed, not because they knew their stuff, but because they weren't creeped out by the subject matter. It seems that these two charming young ladies were from a local mortician's school. They were studying to someday be my possible competition.
They signed me up for some interesting sessions, some covering new techniques, others new equipment, and others explaining additional profit centers. They also pointed out which sessions they were attending and asked if I wanted them to save me a seat. (My mother didn't raise a fool. Of course I accepted their offer.)
That evening I ate at one of the many buffets in the hotel. The food was good, plentiful, and cheap. I talked with some of the other diners while in line and found a couple of guys that were also here for the "Director's" Conference (as the hotel liked to call it).
That way other guests did not get grossed out.
We became acquainted over dinner. They were old hands at this convention, having attended for many years. They were unaccompanied as their wives were no longer thrilled attending. That night the guys took me around to various hotels for either gambling, or some of the better shows.
We even stopped at the Cheetah for their Nude Review. I had to sleep on my back that night.
The next morning I got up, cleaned up, and dressed in comfortable but subdued clothes and headed off to find a breakfast buffet. While I was in line waiting for my eggs, I saw my little cuties from the registration table. They saw me in line and pointed to an empty chair at their table.