Click here for nice stories main menu

main menu   |   standard categories   |   authors   |   new stories   |   search   |   links   |   settings   |   author tools

The Warmth of Autmn (standard:horror, 1616 words)
Author: Tom SoukupAdded: Jan 06 2002Views/Reads: 2397/1501Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
A tough economy can drive one to drastic measures but the paybacks can be disastrous. (Please view my older stories. Comments are greatly appreciated.)


By Tom Soukup 

A single maple leaf fluttered downward and bounced against the bedroom
window before it settled into the courtyard below, its crimson color in 
startling contrast to the deeper green of the lawn.  The wind blew 
lightly and the other leaves watched solemnly from their tentative hold 
on the autumn branches high above. 

"It just isn't right."  Mrs. Binghamton, the undertaker's wife of
thirty-two years stood by the window and glared at her husband 
knowingly through her tiny wire-framed glasses.  "It's ... it's 

"You just try to make a living these days," he replied sharply, snapping
his eyes upward from the piles of ledger books spread across the desk,  
"what with inflation going right through the roof."  His voice rose as 
he spoke.  "Are you ready to give up everything we've worked for all 
these long years?"  He waved his hand around the neatly furnished room 
then struck a match and held it to the bowl of his pipe, drawing 
deeply.  He lowered his weary eyes away from her and snickered 
silently.  "I think not." 

"But how can you continue to do it?" she asked coldly.  She turned her
back to him.  It had become harder and harder by the day to look into 
his eyes.  "How can you defile the dead like that?  I don't even know 
you anymore, Arthur Binghamton."  A tear rolled along the deep wrinkles 
in her cheek and she was glad that he couldn't see her face. 

Binghamton Funeral Parlor had been established thirty-one years ago, and
occupied the same location on the corner of High Street and Pinecrest 
for all that time.  The place had been fashioned from an old farmhouse 
that dated back to the more humble beginnings of Pine Rock, Maine 
sometime in the late eighteenth century.  It was a large building with 
neatly whitewashed clapboards and shuttered windows.  The place was 
perfect for the young business.  There was a large parlor well situated 
for use as a chapel, a spacious dining room and two large bedrooms on 
the first floor that served well for viewing suites, and a cellar that 
offered the privacy and roominess required for the needed preparations 
of the departed.  The young Binghamtons lived necessarily in the rooms 
of the second floor, far enough away from the unpleasant necessities of 
the business for Arthur's bride to become accustomed to her husband's 
chosen occupation. 

As the town grew, so did the business.  Arthur soon had the means to
build a modest colonial style house behind the old place.  A small, 
sun-filled courtyard separated the two structures and Sara enjoyed 
those early days of making it a home.  And the extra room made 
available to the old Parlor itself afforded him the space to add a new 
dimension to his business.  Binghamton Funeral Parlor now became 
Binghamton Funeral Parlor  ... and Crematorium. 

"I'll be no further part to it," Sara said at last, mustering the
strength for the words.  The tears dried on the stone of her 
expression.  She turned to him now, the sadness gone from her eyes. 

"Then that's the way it's to be, I guess," Arthur snorted. 

They stood there looking at each other silently for a long time.  And
then Arthur turned and left the room without another word.  Sara fell 
to tears once more as the door clicked shut behind him. 

*       *       * 

Six months ago, as the New England economy fell to its lowest point,
Arthur Binghamton watched his thriving and profitable business fall to 
ruin.  His customers no longer chose to honor their loved ones with the 
mahogany and brass "Peaceful Rest" casket ($3785), the soft tones of 
Grace Bernard's organ music ($37.50 per hour ... Arthur paid Grace only 
$10.00), or the life-like makeup that always inspired the bereaved to 
mumble "Doesn't he/she look so good" as they paraded solemnly past at 
the wake ($365 and up).  He cut corners in every way, all of it making 
improvements but none really turning the hand of economic fate.  And as 
if all that wasn't quite enough, fuel costs continued to skyrocket, 

Click here to read the rest of this story (113 more lines)

Authors appreciate feedback!
Please write to the authors to tell them what you liked or didn't like about the story!
Tom Soukup has 6 active stories on this site.
Profile for Tom Soukup, incl. all stories

stories in "horror"   |   all stories by "Tom Soukup"  

Nice Stories @, support email: nice at nicestories dot com
Powered by StoryEngine v1.00 © 2000-2020 - Artware Internet Consultancy