Wednesday, 16 December 2020

THE WARP

   “I’m a complete fiasco!” Vesper moaned, making good use of the tissue Exodus handed him. “The entire funeral! Nothing but one big fiasco!”

   “Funeral?” asked Breinz, her loudspeaker rasping with sudden interest.

   “Yes! This morning! I almost buried a living person! The man wasn’t dead! He was in a coma! But the family wanted him in the ground. The sooner the better. I came this close to being an accessory to murder! Can you comprehend the shame!?”

   “How did you know he was in a coma?” Exodus asked.

   “How dare you let a detail like that prevent you from doing your duty?” Breinz demanded.

   “I was leading a ceremony! Somberly, with dignity! As befits the laying of a person to final rest.”

   “You were too slow.”

   Vesper made a lame gesture. “The old man woke up. Hit his head on the lid and fell back and screamed. I heard the noise and I-- I don’t know. Reacted on instinct!”

   Exodus looked lost. “You mean, yours?”

   “Yes! As did he, I imagine. Waking up in a coffin must be a shocking thing.”

   “I wouldn’t mind,” said Breinz. “And mine wouldn’t have to be that big.”

   Vesper went on. “I walked over, opened it up and looked inside. There he lay, screaming, arms flailing. That’s when people started fainting. Oh my word, I can’t even repeat whom he mistook me for!”

   “The devil incarnate?” offered Breinz.

   “What, he was there too?” said Exodus.

   “You might say. The family, all the heirs, the lust of their eyes consumed with his wealth. They knew he wasn’t dead! They wanted him gone, quickly, cleanly--”

   “With dignity,” cut in Breinz.

   “Absolutely. Before it was too late! But I was--”

   “Too slow.”

   “Too many psalms,” said Vesper in hopeless summary. He sighed. “Greed and yet more greed. Makes the world go around. Eats people up from inside.”

   “Never done me no harm.”

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