The Sexton’s Car as Body Wagon

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Contributor: Todd Mercer

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The removal aspect isn’t in his job description,
but a neighbor knocks at 3 a.m. and says
her mother passed over. Can the Sexton
lift the body and drive her to the funeral home?
The mother had asked in advance. She’d rather
be handled first by someone she knows well,
instead of mortuary assistants. A preference.
He agrees. They’re nice people, a long time
acquainted. At his age though the lift
is between difficult and a catastrophe.
But he manages. He supposes a person
is still hanging in there, if at least a couple people
think of them as capable and young. Perspective.
The deceased is delivered across town,
to the professionals. The Sexton’s prepared
to hoist her from his back seat, but two
towers of men step in. The funeral director
hands him a coffee. They take a minute
to talk, touch on highlights of local news.
If you’re up at 3 or 4, engaged in heavy lifting
when someone takes leave, further sleep
makes little sense. The Sexton stays
wide awake. He helps with granting wishes,
what he can, and then he has his day.

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Todd Mercer was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in Fiction in 2019 and the Best of the Net in Poetry in 2018. Recent work appears in The Lake, Dunes Review and The Museum of Americana.


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