All the Flowers of the Field
1078 words long
Reports indicate a possible feud between the head caretaker and the dead caretaker.
Notes from the author:
I went for a walk in Mountain View Memorial Park the day that I first wrote this piece. It's near enough that I can walk there barefoot in the summer. It's a peaceful place and immaculately tended. The big metal plates boast surnames from every part of the world, and the vases hold every kind of flower.
At an intersection of two walkways there's a monument, a simple square brick tower. The cement steps at its base make a nice place to sit and rest, and sometimes write. One evening I discovered that the south face of the tower was actually a door, which fact was made obvious because it was ajar. Inside was where the landscapers kept some of their hand tools and gardening supplies.
I went out there again today to get a photo for this fictionette's cover art. On my way there, I passed a small private lake where a man was contemplating a flock of young Canada geese. When he turned and walked away, one of the geese followed at his heels like an adoring puppy. They were still together, sitting by the water, when I retraced my steps to go home.
Mr. Kneebone lives on the memorial lawn, and he'll thank you not to call it a graveyard. "Graveyards are for low-class corpses," he'll say, "really not our sort of people at all. Not that they don't need a place of their own, poor souls, where they can feel comfortable among their own type. Nothing wrong with a graveyard for those kinds of people. But this, this is a memorial lawn. It has style and grace. Look at the well-tended grass! See how the hedges are so perfectly trimmed! Admire with me the statuary, how each piece catches and holds the eye!"
Mr. Kneebone, of course, no longer has a nose. But when he tilts his skull back upon his cervical vertibrae, you can just imagine the nose he once had canting sharply up into the air. It's tempting to imagine that nose as an exceedingly long and hooked one, the better to stick it up high.
Despite living on a memorial lawn, Mr. Keebone's memory is missing some pieces. He can't for the afterlife of him tell you which grave marker was his. You can't quite blame him; there are so many, row upon row upon row, displaying names like Pringle, Cruz, Moore, Freund, and Peterson, honorifics like Lieutenant and Ph. D. and Retired, sentiments like "Beloved husband," "Devoted mother," "Gone too soon." But one thing is for sure: not a single marker bears the name "Kneebone." Perhaps, after he forgot the name he wore in life, Mr. Kneebone made himself up a new one, one appropriate to his function and his station. There's nothing like a name for conferring a little gravitas.
In any case, you mustn't ask him about his name, or how he died, or when. Questions like these make him downright furious--and a furious skeleton is a daunting sight....
This has been an excerpt from the Friday Fictionette for July 3, 2015. Subscribers can download the full-length fictionette (1078 words) from Patreon in PDF or MP3 format depending on their pledge tier.
Friday Fictionettes are a short-short fiction subscription service powered by Patreon. Become a Patron to get a new fictionette every first through fourth Friday and access all the fictionettes of Fridays gone by.