Business was good, but then mortuaries seldom have slack periods. I was taken in and learned the trade after Dad went to prison. It was a shock to the family when he was convicted as a contract killer, but Uncle Mort gave me a home. His son, my cousin Marvin, didn’t smile when I moved in. He liked it even less when my uncle started taking me to work.

After a while the grisly procedures became routine; the liquid dripping in the stainless tubs and the smell of formaldehyde were just part of the job. Uncle Mort said I was a natural, and he openly praised my progress.

“You’re going places, Jake,” he said. “I’m opening another shop, soon. You or Marvin will be running it.”

“That’ll never happen!” said Marvin, when we were alone. “I’ll put you in a box, first!”

So I made plans to visit Dad, for professional advice.

Al Carty retired from a California beach town to the high plains of New Mexico, where he roams the pinyon-juniper hills and writes about the thoughts that come to him there. Since accepting the hard truth that rewriting is the key to publication, he has seen his stories and poems in ezines and in print. Now back to work.

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Every Day Fiction