Sincerely, Your Mortician

Another writing prompt from Mr. Wendig!

Pour yourself a cup of coffee and enjoy!


Dear Mrs. Quackenbush,

I want to start by saying how sorry I am for your loss. Highland Falls was indeed fortunate to have Mayor Quackenbush lead our community for past 25 years. Personally, I’ll never forget how he was responsible for getting our small town its museum, and I don’t care what anyone says, Pez Dispensers are fascinating.

Like everyone else, I was shocked when we lost the Mayor. I hope your lawsuit against the washing machine company is successful and you will be compensated for your loss, however insufficient money might be.

I suppose you’re surprised to be getting a letter from me, so I should explain. I usually don’t drink coffee in the office. I have a bit of a pet peeve about people drinking on the job, even if it is non-alcoholic beverages. It always makes a mess, and the paper cups that always end up littering the work area are a major distraction.

But I was pretty tired yesterday, and I knew I would be taking care of your husband and needed to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. It’s not often that I stay up that late, but Alf marathons only come around so often.

I understand that it’s illegal to pass school buses when they are loading, but like I said, I was sleepy and distracted by the prospect of preparing our venerated Mayor for his final resting place, so it was an honest mistake. It wasn’t necessary for everyone to yell at me like that, and I’m not one to shirk my responsibilities, and I deserved that ticket, but I hope the judge understands why I was so distracted.

After that, I decided to stop at Alice’s for breakfast on my way to work. This was the second mistake in a long line of them yesterday. Who could have known that a cup of coffee and a ham and egg sandwich could cause such trouble?

You probably don’t think that parking at a small company like Sanford’s Final Rest would be an issue, but it is. As the senior embalming engineer, I am entitled to the coveted spot closest to the bus shelter and walkway. But one of our junior engineers, who shall remain nameless, seems to think she is entitled to the privileged parking spot, either because her father is Mr. Sanford or because of her precious new red Lexus. I’m not sure why, exactly, and I don’t care. I’ve done my time at Sanford, and that spot is mine.

So when I found my spot taken, again, I decided that it was time to resolve this once and for all. I went and found Little Miss So-and-So and made her move her car.

Hindsight being 20/20, I picked the wrong day, and I apologize for that. In all the confusion I left my breakfast and my coffee in the car, which was another mistake.

It was only after the Mayor was on the slab ready to be prepared for his final rest that I remembered my breakfast and my coffee. As I mentioned before, I was exhausted and needed something to wake me up, so I went to the car and got them. I normally don’t like leaving a client on the table, but it seemed important at the time.

When I returned to my place, I found Mr. Sanford waiting for me. He was angry about the parking situation. I don’t want to go into specifics, but he seemed to think I overreacted — as if that was his completely unbiased opinion. In retrospect, calling his daughter a spoiled little tart may have set the tone for Mr. Sanford’s reaction later in the day, but what can I say? When you’re right you have to stick to your guns.

I was very upset when he finally left, but I persisted. Things were going well until I spilled my coffee. But let me explain why.

I am convinced that Flo knows I never want cheese on my ham and egg sandwich! What was she thinking? Rest assured that when I finish this letter I am going to head straight over to Alice’s and let her know how this frankly inexcusable mistake was the beginning of what has been the worst day in my life.

I think I should reiterate my customary disinclination to having food and drink in my work area. It’s a terrible habit, to be honest, and when I find a new position, I promise I will not do it again.

Anyway, I took a bite of my sandwich, which was cold by this point, and discovered the cheese. This led to me spilling my coffee, which was still hot.

There seems to have been a trend in the packaging of cleaning supplies that has led to everything looking alike. Why a corporation would decide to package bleach in something that looks like a package for ordinary soap, I have no idea.

It was obviously at this point in time where everything went horribly wrong, and I cannot apologize strongly enough. Initially I believed the only damage was to the Mayor’s very tasteful seersucker suit, but obviously, I was mistaken and attempting to rectify matters with baking soda only made things worse.

My parents raised me Lutheran, so you can only imagine my surprise when I learned that some religions forbid cremation. In retrospect, going in that direction may have been the worst decision I made all day. Even more so than buying the coffee!

If it’s any consolation to you, Mr. Sanford deducted the cremation expenses from my severance pay, along with the cost of the original preparation services and casket. By the time it was all settled, it cost me nearly $2000 just to get out of the building yesterday, and I had to sell my personal tools to one of the junior embalming engineers. Maybe it’s a sign that I should look for a new career in a town somewhere else like Mr. Sanford said.

There’s no way that an apology like this can make up for the trouble I caused for you and the Mayor yesterday, but I am truly sorry. If it is any consolation to you, the Mayor looked great in that suit, even after I spilled the coffee on him.

I’m sorry for your loss.

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