c o n v e r g e n c e:
an online journal of poetry & art


Menacing Trees by Myles Boisen

MENACING TREES by Myles Boisen

by Jonathan Alston

Ed Moirré owned a mortuary. His days were filled with corpses, the dead and dying waiting in stiff lines to greet him. He spoke to the dead when they came, ignoring the mourners — family, friends, lawyers or caretakers — knowing the deceased was his passion. Tears, sobs, choked speech, sympathetic embraces to feign empathy; Ed hid between coffins to avoid everything. A brief "yes," "I understand," or "of course" were all he said, all the living needed to hear. To the bodies, abandoned to decay in cement incased wood shrines tightened his jaw.

Behind the showroom he drained the dead of their fluids and removed organs before sewing up stomachs and shoulders. Naked under hot lights, he added warm color to blue lips and gray skin; a light airbrush of pinks and yellows and oranges and reds to bring out the still bright blue, green, and brown in the eyes. Like a dentist he spoke as he worked: "How are the kids these days?" "Go anywhere interesting lately?" And they replied. Short, simple answers.

Washed, painted, the men dressed in suits with black ties, some with top hats and canes; the women in long pastel ball downs, white gloves over the elbow and hair curled and done up tight. He started some in a waltz, others in orchestral pits, a few brandishing drinks and talking — hands raised, mouths open and faces expressive, heads tilted in laughter — while some stood in the in cleaning room's dark corners to watch.

Some Ed fell in love with. The shy, reserved girl attracted him, hiding behind champagne flutes or imported Chinese fans. They were unable to resist his dark charm: thick rimmed glasses and tailored gray suits, hair parted down the middle and greased motionless accented by a well-groomed mustache. He and the dead women skipped flirting and he brought them to portable storage unit behind the mortuary, replicating his home, allowing them to roam throughout his other house: some sat on the couch reading a book, nine sat ready for a bountiful dinner, two slept in different rooms curled up under down blankets to stay warm, another changed out of her dress, back exposed. He spoke with them all, dropping kisses and small caresses on their cheeks and foreheads and necks. On the couch he sat with one holding hands sharing stories, another by a fire cuddled under a blanketing sharing a cup of coffee. The men who followed carried much of the conversations, keeping the group of young ladies interested while Ed devoted individual time to each.

Leaving for home one evening, Ed Moirré saw a man shot in the chest across from his mortuary. Two bullets followed by a figure stalking away. Ed waited. The man did not move. Ed exited the show room, considering each step, brief pauses between his feet. Shot, bleeding out, the man still breathed. Deep, long, ragged breaths. Ed watched, but said nothing. The man saw Edís face under the streetlamp a few yards off. He tried to speak through the blood bubbling up in his throat. He choked on the thick words. Ed did not move, did not speak; he watched the man's eyes widen, his limbs twitch and convulse, a demon being exercised from his body. Minutes poured from the man's chest and mouth, marking the sidewalk with red checkmarks for the time he laid out. Then his body stopped. Ed noticed the man's driver's license discarded beside his head: David Philips. He checked his pulse: no beat.

"Hello David," he said taking the dead man's hand, "my name is Ed. It is a pleasure meeting you."

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