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|The Coffin (standard:mystery, 1342 words)|
|Author: Ian Hobson||Added: Sep 04 2006||Views/Reads: 3079/1223||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|I locked the door and turned around and there it was: a coffin!|
The Coffin ©2006 Ian Hobson Getting up for work had been difficult for the first couple of days, but I soon got back into a routine. In fact, everything was going fine until the Tuesday of my third week. I was up at six-fifteen as usual, had my breakfast, and was out of the front door by a quarter to seven. I live in an old terraced house that used to belong to my mum – the same house I grew up in - and the front door opens directly onto the street. As I left the house, checking the contents of my rucksack to make sure that I'd not forgotten my thermos flask and sandwiches, I locked the door and turned around and there it was: a coffin! Sat there on the pavement, right outside my front window! Where the bloody hell has this come from? I thought. It was a nicely made coffin; nothing flash, just pine, by the look of it, though it had very ornate-looking brass handles. I glanced up the street; it's on a slight incline, and I wondered for a moment if the coffin might have fallen from a hearse and come sliding downhill, but if that were the case, how would it have got itself up onto the pavement? Anyway, there was no sign of a hearse, just the usual parked cars. I don't have a car any more; I sold it about a year after my wife died. I had other uses for the money then; though, thankfully, not any more, thanks to AA. Anyway, I couldn't stand around waiting for someone to turn up and claim the coffin; I own the house, not the pavement outside it, so it wasn't my responsibility. So off I went to catch my bus. When I got to the factory, all hell had broken loose: during the night a water main had burst on Coalback Lane and the water had flowed through the back railings and across the yard and almost completely flooded the boiler-house. Of course, as a maintenance engineer, I got roped into the cleanup operation. And so I forgot all about the coffin; until a quarter to five, when I got back home to find it still sat there outside my house. I suppose at this point I ought to tell you that the house has been in the family for many years, as it used to belong to my grandfather, and that's who this story is all about really. Anyway, some bright spark had blue-tacked a sign to the coffin that read Vacant possession on completion. As I read the sign, old Mrs Gray from next door came out and asked me if it was my coffin. I told her I wasn't planning to have a use for one just yet, and then, foolishly, I asked her how her husband was, as I hadn't seen Joe for three or four weeks and he had been quite ill throughout the winter. She told me he was very well, thank you very much, and went back inside. So, wishing I'd kept my stupid mouth shut, I unlocked my front door and went in to make a couple of phone calls. It only took a half-hour for a young copper to show up. Fortunately I was out of the shower by then, though I hadn't quite finished shaving. He examined the coffin and took a few notes and then suggested I phone the local funeral directors. I told him I'd already done that and that they'd said that they hadn't lost any coffins. At this point he got on his radio while I made us both a cup of tea, and then after another half-hour or so, two more coppers arrived with the undertaker. A Mr Greenwood, I remember his name was, and he had a small tool-kit with him and, as quick as a flash, he had the lid off the coffin, and the five of us stood staring down into it. This is where my grandfather comes into the story. He'd died during the war and, according to my gran, on the day he was due to be buried in the parish cemetery, both he and his coffin had gone missing. Apparently there had been an air-raid just as the coffin was being carried out of the house. I think most of those doing the carrying were women, what with there being a shortage of men, and all, and as the siren went off they set the coffin down and everyone, including my mum and my gran, scurried off to the air-raid shelter. And then later, when they returned, the coffin and my granddad's body were gone. Black-marketeers were blamed at the time; not that my gran was bothered about the coffin; she just wanted her husband back so that she could Click here to read the rest of this story (53 more lines)
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