There's a graveyard in Old Home, California, that hasn't changed its prices since 1978. The locals know it. They are suspicious of strangers coming to their town with pickup trucks because everyone in the world would like a free plot of land just to bury their kin.
One time Sally Greenbow told us that the military did not pay enough to bury her husband after Iraq. The commercials on the television say that the average funeral cost is the same price as a used Toyota. The same price as a 5-year-old car that will get you to work. I'm sure that most people would say that you should just burn the body, ashes to ashes and get down and pray...
There are some people in this world that think that the only ones that should be burned are hated by God. And so for this reason the community used to take up collections, people stood at the corner of highway 99 and xx road, hoping that someone that pulled over to get food at Denny's would stop and consider that their money is needed for another.
We don't want Sally standing out on the highway with her five fatherless kids begging at strangers. They never met the man. We never met the man. He is a merely a symbol. Sally moved away after a high school and returned to her hometown with a corpse and a half dozen kids.
Therein lies the rub. I mean Sally hasn't been spending one weekend every month pulling weeds. She doesn't go to our masonry events where we pour concrete into sarcophagus forms. You have to use these things because every 100-year flood will make bodies rise. It's not the second coming of Christ it's a geological event.
The second problem is that the particular graveyard only has about 2 acres left. After that we're going to have to be like those modern folks who bury their dead standing up. We are going to have to start using the well diggers instead of the backhoe. The water table in this area is going to be very interesting when you have an entire family buried down in a straight line.
Our estimates are than anything over a nuclear family, say three kids, is gonna have to be capped with a well head. Well heads are not that pretty. Well heads are terrible to pray around, there's no room for flowers since you have to pour concrete about 5 ft across and 5 ft deep.
It depends upon the pressure of the souls trying to escape. Souls escape with water pressure. It's not a Stephen King problem unless the souls start making you breakfast and yelling that your house needs paint.
When my mother's soul rises you're going to know it.
So, we meet at The Grange. We'll let the Sergeant at Arms tell the notes of the last meeting. Someone brings a high school picture of Sally in case we forgot. Sister Daniels brings hard cookies that she made sometime in the past.
The rains coming. Lightning is already hit the backfield. Most of us want to get back to our projects that we left out in the yard that need tarps. I know that half of my kids are going to be playing in puddles if I don't get back in a hurry.
And Sally's husband still needs a plot.
Brother Calhoun says, "She left us, ya know. There's no common reason to do anything more."
It's Edgla Perry that has the better discussion, "The man is a war hero. We should take care of him."
Unfortunately, this leads to the question whether Iraq was a good War.
There are people in the audience that completed their draft service in Vietnam. They have definite opinions about people describing a good War.
Sally is not invited to the town counsel. No one cares to hear her ideas or her pleads or her petitions. If the referendum goes forward she's going to be the sole beneficiary to one of our guarded secrets.
Old Pat Scowels is indignant. He says it's pretty much like giving the woman $15,000. Then he says, "I'm going to send my woman for war if you got fifteen THOUSAND dollars."
And we all have to laugh because Patrick Scowels is a seventy year old bachelor.
Debbie Fanszi is probably our creative center. The magnificent lady puts together the best quilts for over a hundred miles, matching worn socks in such a way that children can be snuggled into the toil of their parents.
Debbie asks about the "Benefit Society," how Mrs Sally P. Could earn her place back to our town's trust with just a few side projects. No one wants to see Sally move away with her kids to find work. That means she'd just be leaving us the body.
There's a general murmur in the room, a rustling of feet, transitory eye exchanges that means: the Benefits Society might be going too far.
Sister Daniels says that she'll give up the bed panning if maybe Jim Deacon will switch to letter writing. Jim is not around to give his Blessing. Most of us agreed that we should keep the original author.
Deborah is confused because she's just an artist. Someone has to put a cookie in her mouth so that she doesn't talk again.
The gavel falls down.
"Look here folks. We have to keep old Joe from dying because the law says that his wife will be notified. We have to keep Patrick on them letters because if you change a voice after forty years she's gonna know."
The leaders of the Town decided to keep sending $5 to the Philippines every month, with a letter. The town would keep paying for the small items needed for a farmer in a coma. They would shave him, tend to his body like the rest of the memorial setting.
They remembered Mrs. Biden's last visit. How she raised the prices on plots, markers and sercophagi -- how she stopped letting Joe burry children for free.
No, The Benefit Society would give Sally a job. The solution was clear.
We just didn't know at that time that Joe biden's wife had already died, leaving our town with no beneficiary.