On the second day of “Creative Corona” – highlighting the work of the virtual community of writers associated with the MA in Creative Writing – Eileen O’Donoghue, MA alumna, explores what now seems like an old-fashioned definition of the word that is on all of our lips.
On the evening of his 18th birthday, Brian Keane, shades on, was driving his polished silver Peugeot 208 with the driver’s window down, on his way to collect Kyle and Jack to go for a not-very-social-distancing spin, when his father rang to tell him to drive the new hearse out to the nursing home, that some poor old woman was dead up there and would he do that job for him. He couldn’t go himself because he was on his way to the hospital where some other poor bastard was dead.
The hearse was in the yard with the coffin and the keys in it. All he had to do was take up the coffin and bring the hearse back down to the yard and since he had his licence now, and there was no school, he could make himself useful.
Brian indicated and pulled in by a farm gate a few hundred yards up from Kyle’s house, as agreed, so they wouldn’t be spotted.
‘Happy birthday, funeral boy,’ said Kyle hopping into the passenger seat, landing two six packs of beer on the floor. ‘Tara and the girls are on. We’ll meet them at the top car park.’
‘I’ve to drive the hearse up to the nursing home first.’
‘Fuck off. With a dead person and shit?’
‘No, you spanner, just dropping of a coffin.’
The hearse was parked facing the gate of the funeral home, gleaming black, ready for business. The lads parked up transferring themselves and the drink into the front of the it, Kyle whistling and admiring the leather interior and the size of the dash.
‘You know what would be fuckin’ hilarious?’ said Kyle, twisting the top off a beer.
‘Don’t even think about it.’ said Brian.
‘Ah, just for Jack. Go on – like, we have to. I’ll do it – you film it from here and I’ll get him close up on mine.’
Brian rolled his eyes and that was enough for Kyle who crawled into the back and got into the coffin.
‘Put the top on,’ he said and Brian complied, leaving the top just a fraction off-line so it was not completely shut.
While the hearse slowed to a noiseless stop up the road a bit from Jack’s house, Kyle was playing some song called Dead as Fuck on his phone at top volume and banging on the coffin lid for head banging.
‘He’s here, shut it!’ Brian shouted behind him.
Jack got into the passenger seat, putting his rucksack on the floor. ‘I’ve got vodka and cider. We can get some Red Bull in the Centra.’
While Jack was rooting around in the bag, Brian mounted his phone on the dash and pressed record. He pulled the hearse back onto the road. ‘Shit, this is weird,’ said Jack, ‘What’s the story with that?’ pointing his head at the coffin.
‘ ‘I’ve to drop it up to the nursing home, then we’ll get Kyle and go down to the lake in my car, with the beers.’
From behind them a sound like scratching became more insistent. Jack jumped ‘What the fuck is that? Brian!’ Hearing it again he said, ‘What is that?’
‘Shit, maybe I didn’t close the lid properly and it’s squeaking a bit. Happens sometimes.’ Brian slowed the hearse and indicated to pull into a lay-by on the roadside. ‘You’ll have to help me to get it on straight.’
‘No fucking way,’ said Jack.
‘We have to fix it. Otherwise the top might fall off.’
Brian climbed into the back of the hearse, pointing to Jack to get in on the other side while examining the lid.
‘Looks okay here,’ said Brian. ‘Can you scootch in a bit, have a closer look on that side?’ Just as Jack leaned in over the wood, Brian yanked the top of the coffin over to his side and Kyle sat bolt upright in the coffin, his phone in his hand, filming Jack screaming his head off.
‘Brilliant, man,’ said Kyle, ‘This will go fuckin’ viral.’