An Ode to the Dearly Departed III

Outside, Gus is finishing up the hammering in the nails on a small coffin.
“Hey, Gus.”
“Sheriff, Doc, what can I do ya for? Lemme guess, the stranger didn’t make it?”
“You got that right, Gus, smells like he’s been dead for days, but he walked in here just a little spell ago.”
“Tombstone?”
“Needn’t bother, I say, but check in with Father Astaire, he might have some opinion on the matter.”
“Will do.”
“We’ll bury him tomorrow, but we want him out of the holding cell and into a coffin by nightfall. You have one ready?”
“Always, Sheriff.”
“Thanks, Gus, we’ll just grab this one, and cart it over.” They pick up a standard sized coffin in a row of similar ones.
“Hmm, that one’s special, for someone else. I got a few; actually, mind if I come by, take his measurements?”
“Not at all, Gus, come on, we’ll head back now.”

The three men enter the Sheriffs office, and see the figure slumped over on the floor. The Sheriff gags, and holds some potpourri he’d kept on him up to his mouth. The doc walked in with the handkerchief over his face, knowing what to expect. Old Gus walks right in, not noticing a thing.
“Well, ya gonna open that cell, Sheriff?”
“Ech, uh, yeah, sure thing.” The Sheriff walks over to the cell, and unlocks it, letting Gus inside.
“Boy, I’ve seen plenty of the dead, but this one’s quite the example. Now you both know I ain’t had no smell in years, so you boys can wait outside while I do this, shouldn’t take too long.” Both men nod in agreement, and leave. As Gus walks in the cell, he accidentally closes it behind him, out of force of habit. He doesn’t think about it too long, used to being around death, and starts measuring.

Outside, Doc strikes a match and lights up a cigarette.
“What do you think about all this, Sheriff?”
“Not much, honestly, a stranger roams into town, prolly got lost in the wastes. This town is only a year old, after all, not gonna be on many maps. Our celebrations drew him in, but not soon enough. If he has a group that ain’t been too far separated, they’ll see some more celebrations tonight. If’n not, we’ll just enjoy in the festivities. I don’t give a shit about no random dead man. Hell, he’s prolly an outlaw.”

A yell comes from inside the jail.

They both run into the station, only to see old Gus’ innards being eaten, stomach torn open across the jail cell floor.
“Ahh, cuss, thought you said he was dead, Doc.”
“He is, I mean, he was…”
Upon hearing them, the dead man notices them, and turns around, his now lip-less mouth still dripping with blood, half a liver falls to the floor. He begins to stand, moaning. He lunges at the two sickened, bewildered men, but is stopped by the bars. He presses forcefully up against the bars, reaching towards them. His bloodied hands still marked by Gus’ entrails desperately try to reach them. He gnaws at the air.
“Jesus, Hal, y’see his eyes? They glowing blood red, like some kinda demon possessed.”
“Y’thinkin we should call the preacher?”
“Naw, i know how to solve this” The sheriff pulls out his gun, and shoots the man directly in the heart. He falls down dead onto the corpse of old Gus. “Told ya, ain’t no such things as demons, and I sure as heck ain’t givin that preacher more ammo to toss at morons willin to follow his interpretations of reality.”
“Well, after takin a shot like that-” the doc is interrupted by a moan emanating from the cell. The man stands again, eyes dimmer than before. The sheriff takes another shot, taking its head clear off. The sheriff and the doctor stand there. Waiting; neither having ever seen nor heard anything like this before. A few moments pass, and they exhale.

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One Response to “An Ode to the Dearly Departed III”

  1. I love this installment of the story, when things really start to get crazy…

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