Monday, June 6, 2011

Life, Death, and Rolling Tombstones

            Life hadn’t always been rainbows and candy hearts for Errol, but it sure beat being dead. He’d worked hard, played hard, and done pretty well for himself; anyone would say so. He’d married money, and then invested the small amount his father-in-law – the stingy old fart – had loaned him on his wedding day. His real estate decisions had been inspired. By the time he was fifty, Flynn, Inc. had made more money than the old man had ever had. He’d kept the old fart’s youngest daughter in champagne, Dolce and Gabbana dresses, and Jimmy Choo heels for thirty years. Alison had lived the good life, that’s for sure. Actually, she was still living the good life in their luxurious penthouse overlooking Central Park. He was the one stuck here in this pitifully landscaped, lower-class cemetery in, of all places, New Jersey. Life – or was it death? – just wasn’t fair.
            He perched on top of the modest black marble stone that had only his name and his birth and death dates carved on the front. There was no mention of his grand accomplishments, of his importance. This “memorial” was an outright insult. She should have built a grand monument to his name, complete with weeping angels and sorrowing saints. But no, she had consigned him to spend all of eternity in this dank hole in, of all places, New Jersey.
You’d have thought she’d be grateful for all he’d done for her. Instead, for the past few years she’d whined and griped about his “social life”. She never did understand that being successful in business was all about making contacts. If some of those contacts were female, young and sexy, well, it was all part of playing the game. His mom hadn’t named him Errol Flynn Reynolds for nothing. He’d been a swashbuckling pirate, a philanthropic Robin Hood, and a romantic Don Juan rolled into one. Women liked him and he liked them right back. It just wasn’t in him to be faithful to one woman. That was too much to ask of any man, in his opinion.

He jumped off the stone and absently ran a hand through his wavy dark hair as he stared at the car driving through the rusty iron cemetery gates. It had been at least six months since he’d died. Despite the popularity he’d enjoyed when he’d been alive, no one ever came to visit him here. He chuckled mirthlessly. No one in his crowd would be caught dead in this place. He narrowed his eyes; it was his red Porsche convertible. If he’d had doubts about it, they fled as the car drew close enough that he could read FLYNN on the license plate.

Gravel shot from the back tires as she pulled the car to the side of the narrow road and parked. “Well, well,” he remarked, “if it isn’t the grieving widow come to pay her respects.”

Alison gracefully exited the car and walked toward him, or rather, toward his so-called “memorial” stone. Errol waited, his arms crossed, for her to speak. The living felt free to talk to the dead, usually having little faith that their loved ones could actually hear them, and he couldn’t wait to hear what she wanted to say.

She said nothing. Instead, she held out her hand to the man unfolding himself from the passenger seat of the Porsche. He winked at her as he walked over and took her hand in his. He was a slightly older version of Michelangelo’s David come to life and Errol hated him on sight.

Alison stood on her tiptoes and kissed the man. “For heaven’s sake, Ali,” Errol yelled, “what are you doing?” She couldn’t hear him, of course. Damn, but it was frustrating to be dead.

The kiss grew passionate. Errol watched in disbelief as the man took off what was unmistakably an Armani jacket and spread it on the ground behind the black marble stone. Alison and the man, unbuttoning each other’s shirts, sank to their knees.

“Stop it right now,” Errol bellowed. “You’re my wife, damn it. How dare you betray me like this?”

There was no doubt about it; Alison and some pretty-boy were being intimate right on top of Errol’s mortal remains. It was the ultimate disrespect, and Errol wasn’t going to let her get away with it. He pushed against the black marble stone. His fingers went right through it at first, but then gradually, as he concentrated, he felt the smooth surface of the stone under his palms. He shoved, and the tombstone rocked back and forth the slightest bit. Alison and her friend, being otherwise engaged, didn’t notice.

He took a deep breath, a habit since he didn’t need to breathe anymore, and thrust against the stone with the full force of his anger.  The tombstone toppled over.

There was a moment of stunned silence, and then Alison began to laugh. The couple had rolled at the last second, and the stone had completely missed them. The only casualty was the Armani jacket, now lying under the chiseled marble.

“Now you know what it feels like, Errol.” She laughed again and quickly arranged her clothing. “Allow me to introduce my fiancĂ© Pierre to you.”

Errol growled deep in his throat, but the pair heard only the groan of a diesel truck on the nearby turnpike.

“Nice to meet you, sir,” Pierre said politely, tucking in his shirt. He was dubious about the whole talking-to-the-dead thing, but he loved Alison with all his heart. If she wanted him to “meet” her dead husband, he’d go along with it. It was crazy about the stone falling over like that, though. It must not have been placed on the stand properly.

“Let’s go, Pierre,” Alison suggested. She tossed the keys to the Porsche to Pierre and got in the passenger side. “Would you mind driving? I’m tired.”

Pierre started the car – Errol’s car – and took off down the road with the love of his life – Errol’s wife. Errol’s single possession was a now-flat black marble tombstone with only his name and his birth and death dates etched on the front. Dejectedly, he sat down on the stone. It wasn’t fair. He’d never done anything to deserve this tragic ending, had he? Had he?

You'll like this link:  http://www.nj.com/mercer/index.ssf/2011/06/woman_injured_by_rolling_grave.html

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