Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Corpse Who Loved Shakespeare - The World in Miniature

by Bryan Russell

The Corpse Who Loved Shakespeare

The woman pushed the elderly man in the wheelchair up to the airport counter. She smiled. The old man’s head was slumped back. He was wearing a hat and sunglasses. A little blanket was pulled high up his chest. A book was propped open on his lap.

“Here’s our tickets,” the woman said. She was still smiling. “For my father and I.”

The woman at the counter took the tickets, but she was looking at the man in the wheelchair. “Sir?”

“Oh!” the daughter said. “He’s sleeping. Ha ha ha!”

“Sir?” the woman at the counter asked again. “Sir?”

“Ha ha ha! He’s sleeping!”

“He looks very grey.”

“He’s old! Ha ha ha! Liver problems, you know. Travel will be good for him!”

“Is he dead?”

“Ha ha ha! That’s a good one! He was just reading a few moments ago. See?” She pointed at the book on the old man’s lap. “Right, Dad, you were reading?” She spoke very loudly, without looking at the old man.

The woman at the counter leaned over a little speaker. “John, could you and Mike come up to the front, please?”

“What’s this?” the daughter said with a smile. “What’s going on?”

“Just routine, Ma’am. Do you have your passport?”

“Oh, somewhere in here, it’s always so hard to find…” The daughter fumbled inside her purse.

John and Mike approached. They wore airport security uniforms. They eyed the old man in the wheelchair, and huddled with the woman at the counter, whispering.

John looked over and smiled. “If you’ll just come this way, Ma’am. We’ll check over your documents. Just a few questions for you and your father.”

“Oh, yes, yes, ha ha ha,” the daughter said. “Hear that, Dad? Just a wee delay. Ha ha ha.” She pushed the wheelchair forward, the two security officers on either side. The old man’s head slumped forward. The sunglasses were very dark, and now hung askew from his face. His eyes were open.

Mike was frowning. “Are you trying to smuggle your dead father onto a plane to avoid the transport fees?”

“Ha ha ha! No! My father was just reading, see? He loves Shakespeare. He falls asleep all the time reading it!”


Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Shakespeare kills me too! :)

(I couldn't resist) I'm really glad that airport security at least checks for a pulse before they let people on! LOL

Creepy, yet hilarious. Nicely done!

IanBontems said...

I loved the woman in this story. As I read I could feel the tension in the her voice and could hear the strained laughter in my head.

I also thought the way you focussed the descriptions on detail on the old man was a sneaky and effective way of shifting reader focus onto the fact something was awry. Other than the old man, your only descriptions are of the men in uniform arriving, but I still could picture the scene and other characters clearly.

I remember a similar event in the UK reported in the newspapers last April. The two woman who tried this said they thought he was still alive but the coroner discovered that he'd been dead for at least 24 hours when they took him to the airport.

Emily White said...

Eek! Slightly disturbing, but very hilarious! Great story!

R.S. Bohn said...

Reading the comments, it appears someone has tried this very thing before. No way!!!

Well delivered vignette! Tense and maniacal, like your, erm, heroine!

Elena Solodow said...

Weird & delightful.

Matthew Rush said...

That's nuts. Crazy, fun, but nuts.

I actually had to take my father's ashes through airport security after he passed and it was all very awkward. Obviously you don't check that bag. But taking it through security was weird. I had to declare it, and the supervisor came over and was all very formal about it.

Jayme Stryker said...

Interesting...creepy...Shakespeare...what's not to love?

Raquel Byrnes said...

Oy...officially creeped out. That was funny all the nervous laughter made me so tense.
Edge of Your Seat Romance

Bryan Russell (Ink) said...

@ Ian

Yeah, I heard something in passing about someone trying to smuggle a body on a plane, and thought that was, you know, pretty cool. Story!

Lydia K said...

OMG, didn't this really happen once?

Funny how people with laugh (a little too much) to cover up the truth.

Jeffrey Beesler said...

To screen or not to screen, that is the question. Very good and enjoyable piece! I have an award for the Alchemy of Writing over at my blog just so you know.

Amie Kaufman said...

Eek! Creepy and awesome. I could definitely feel the tension in the way the woman spoke and laughed, even though you never came out and said she was tense. So well done!

Jessica Bell said...

LOL! Ha! Ha! Ha! I'd want to punch that woman and her laugh in the nose if we crossed paths! LOL ;o)

Donna Hole said...

Hahaha; just awesome. I could so identify witht he daughter. Poor gal :)