Photo By: Siilur
Photo By: Siilur

“My Mother wants WHAT on her headstone?” Esme asked the Funeral Director.

The Funeral Director, who had the misfortune of being named Vladimir  Petgrave, looked down on file in front of him and said

” Queen of The Zombies. “

Mr. Petgrave folded his hands together and tried, very successfully to not blink, twitch a muscle in his face or to look as if he were arranging a funeral for what could possibly be the most insane family to lay to rest  a loved one in the 100 plus years of  this Funeral Home and at that precise moment in time he was sure that was exactly what he was doing.

Esme sat back in her chair and then she leaned forward suddenly.

Vladimir almost pushed his own chair back but did not.

” No. She can’t have that. Absolutely not.”

Vlad found his feet firmly planted on the ground again and he looked straight at Esme and said, ” Yes she can Mrs. Stroud. In fact, she already has. The headstone has already been delivered and after the service it’s going to be set in place. It’s in your Mother’s Pre-Arranged Plan.”

” Well, bless her heart for being so thorough. Mr. Petgrave, do you know what my Mother collected?”

Vlad considered that and then bit his tongue and shook his head to keep from saying exactly what he thought.

” She collected Pez dispensers. Do you know what those are?”

Esme didn’t wait for his answer.

 ” Pez Dispensers are little plastic toys that dispense candy. You get the get candy by pulling the toy’s head back. The candy pops out of it’s neck  and you eat it. My Mother owned thousands of those things. I don’t mean that figuratively. I mean that literally. Do you know how I know that? She had them all numbered.”

Esme folded her arms against her chest. ” So, how soon can I get another headstone?”

” I can’t go against the final wishes of a woman who liked to eat candy that you get  out of  a toys neck.”

” She had a three-legged cat. Do you know what happened to its fourth leg? It attacked a fireman who was putting out a brush fire that started in my Mother’s front yard on the Fourth of July. When they pulled it off, which I thought was a time waster and they should have just used an ax and chopped that darn animal off of him. That vicious little beast was holding on to that man’s leg so tightly that  it’s leg got stuck in the Fireman’s boot  and when they pulled it off it broke in so many places it wasn’t worth saving.”

Esme said, ‘” Do you know what its name was.”

Mr. Petgrave stared back at her.

” It’s name was Itsy Bitsy. “

” I see.”

” So, what choices do I have for anothe headstone? “

” You don’t. ” Vladimir said.

” My Mother was some sweet old eccentric woman Mr Petgrave. Don’t think that for a single minute. Do you know what she did for a living?”

Vlad shook his head.

” She traded in curios. She went around the world looking for dead mutant animals and dead deformed  people and then she stuffed and sold them to roadside freak shows and gas stations in the middle of nowhere. Her curious weren’t fake Mr. Petgrave they were real. That’s what my Mother did for a living. What may I ask did your mother do for a living?”

” She was a librarian.”

” Yeah.”

” Mrs. Stroud, does it really surprise you that your mother wanted this carved on her headstone?”

” No. What surprises me is that it doesn’t light up and make haunted house noises when you walk by.”

Vlad took a deep breath, looked up and tried to show no fear.

” Oh bloody hell- she did not.”

Esme stood up. ” Well. I can see this is going to go nowhere.  We suffered through the weirdness that is our Mother  for our entire lives and I guess the way to look at the situation now is that we will never have to suffer through her or her weirdness ever again.”

Esme pulled her oatmeal colored jacket off of the back of her chair and put it on over her simple white dress belted at the waist with a simple tan belt and she reached for her functional purse which was sitting on Mr. Petgrave’s desk.

They went over small details about the service as they stood  and as Mr. Petgrave opened the door for Mrs. Stroud and they were met out in the hall by- he could think of her by no other name- The Zombie Queen’s Family.

They all wore the same colorless clothes, and they all wore the same colorless expression on their faces and after promising them all quietly that he would be waiting for them at 1:00 the next day Mr. Petgrave turned back into his office. He went to his desk and sat down and looked down at Funeral arrangement Plan for Mrs. Stroud’s mother and thought to himself:

How funny, she’s going to be buried two rows down from a man who insisted that in life he had been a Vampire.

Mr. Petgrave had thought for certain, at one point,  the man had not been a Vampire. Now he had to reconsider his position.  After all, Mr. Petgrave knew, for a fact that at 1:30 the next day he was going to bury

The Queen Of The Zombies.