About number three, willingness to work late “but not too late,” Mr. Greenlawn was less forthcoming; I had to grill him. “I mean that five of the clock will not a magic number, young man! We work to the specifications of our clients, not the clock.” By clients he meant the stiffs. Their survivors he regarded mostly as a nuisance.
But what did he mean by “not too late”? “Well,” Mr. Greenlawn temporized, “I’m not an ogre. We always wrap up by midnight. But I’ll want you back at eight sharp the next morning, understand?”
He gave me the job. It was fine. The squishy bits were as squishy as advertised, and the hours as long. Greenlawn Funeral Home enjoyed a steady stream of clients in need of good undertaking. But my boss was true to his word. Every night around eleven forty-five, if we weren’t done already, we started tidying up loose ends and setting the workplace in order for the morning. We were always out of the morgue by midnight.
One night I tried to earn a few brownie points by staying late. I was still pretty new to the job and unsure as to whether my boss considered me a valuable employee. Besides, quarter to midnight had caught me in the middle of some delicate work, the details of which I won’t get into here (you’re welcome), that seemed better to finish up than leave half-done.
Mr. Greenlawn got downright agitated. “Young man, what are you doing? Hurry up and get that stabilized so we can leave.”
“But it wouldn’t be any trouble to—”
“Do as I tell you!” I blinked, stunned. Stern as he affected to be, Mr. Greenlawn had never yelled at me before. He took seriously the reputation of an undertaker for dignity. His outburst seemed to have startled him as much as it had me. “You must understand,” he said in a more conciliatory tone, “the dead need their privacy, too. Let’s wrap things up so we can give it to them, hmm?”
So I did as I was told and we got out of there on time. But now I was curious. And, hey, webcams are cheap. A few nights later, I opened up my laptop and did some spying on the dead....
This has been an excerpt from the Friday Fictionette for February 23, 2018. Subscribers can download the full-length fictionette (1022 words) from Patreon as an ebook or audiobook depending on their pledge tier.