Friday, January 2, 2009

Tales of the Casketman- The late Mrs. Elza Mayberry

i'd love to tell you how this came to me, but i have no idea. i know that it was part of my story a day project, and that one of the first lines i jotted down was that he "beat the living-hell shit" from the caskets. I guess i was just in a real Gilliamesque mood. like most everything else here, i'd love to make a flick from this tale...

You’re not listening to me- the man fought caskets.
Literal caskets.
Pine and oak and maple- velvet lined, memory foam, goose down. The final resting places for your friends, family, and loved ones- he fought them.

He’d step into the ring to the cheering of the crowd, and dance a bit as his corner man took his purple sating robe away to reveal his red velvet boxing trunks. Some said that even these shorts were made from the luxurious insides of the first casket he’d ever defeated in the ring. They say that the mask that he wore was sewn from the handkerchiefs of grieving widows past.
When he had finished showboating for the crowd they’d launch a casket at him. They’d take a casket and secure it in a huge rubber band, three strong men would pull it back, and launch it at him in the ring.

And when that casket was launched, Casketman would promptly and most assuredly beat the living hell-shit out of it.

On occasion there would come a challenging casket, one that Casketman felt he had to make an example of. He’d be extra brutal with these unfortunate caskets. Some would say that he was out of bounds, but the Refs ignored these actions and the audience could never get enough.
When he unleashed his fury onto these poor boxes the first few rows of the audience would be showered in splinters and excitement.

I won’t say that I went into my business relationship with Casketman completely blind.
My folks had always taken part in a few shady dealings in order to keep afloat. They’d sold bodies to various nameless individuals from our family funeral home for years, and when I took over I had no real reason to try to turn things around. The money was good, I’d been raised as an immoral heel, and the money was good. Casketman’s people got in touch with me, the deal was simple: I’d provide him with the highest quality caskets in exchange for two grand per. I figured that all I’d have to do was provide him with enough to fight throughout the year, then I’d get out of here and leave this crummy town behind me.

This is when I met a girl.

She was great. When I met her, we immediately hit it off- sharing lunch, conversation, and a dislike for hippies and home schooled kids. We sat alone in the cemetery and talked about what we wanted to do with our lives. It wasn’t until this conversation that I realized that I had no real plans outside of selling peoples caskets and leaving town. I didn’t even know where I wanted to go when I left. I did not, in reality, have any plan for the rest of my life. But when I met her. I knew that whatever my plan was, it had to include her. We fell asleep there in the cemetery, on the grave of the late Mrs. Elza Mayberry.

So I finally had the beginnings of a plan- I’d sell enough caskets to Casketman to make enough money to follow my girl out of time.

Here is how it worked. Casketman would tell me what style of casket he wanted for that weekends fight. I’d make sure to try and push that style on some poor shclub that was putting his beloved in the ground. Then, because Casketman wanted authenticity, the caskets had to be buried and then exhumed. His people would come and collect the merchandise and I’d be paid in cash.

I never told my sweetie what it was I did because I was sure that she wouldn’t find it to be as romantic or victimless as I’d convinced myself it all was.

So it came as a big surprise to me when she told me she wanted to take me out one Saturday night and we ended up at the casket fights. We got seats right in the front row, got some beers from the guy, and got ready for some action. After the fanfare, I noticed the men loading the casket into the rubber band.

I could recognize that Series 32 Econo Relax-Master from a mile away. Her family wanted puce, and there it was; The Late Mrs. Ezla Mayberry was in the first casket that Casketman would fight tonight.

Casketman walked out to the sounds of an old ragtime band and to the cheers of the entire crowd. My girl seemed to cheer the loudest. She lept from her seat and pumped her fist as the Casketman walked around the ring, putting his hand up to his ear so that everyone would cheer louder.

He walked to the center of the ring, and took off his robe.

My girl started to yell his name- “Casketman Casketman ”

As Casketman took his position in the ring and redied himself for the fight, my girl whispered into my ear- “That’s my dad.”

And there is was. My girl knew the secret identity of the cities, perhaps the worlds greatest most controversial athlete. In fact, she was his kin. I’d never felt more in love with her than when she’d shared this secret with me.

We returned our attention to the ring in time to hear the bell and see the men release the band.
Everything after happened in slow motion. The casket shot out, and barreled towards the Casketman. He waited until what seemed like the absolute last minute, then suddenly obliterated the puce box with a dynamite left hook.

I saw it happen. I saw the jagged three foot plank speeding towards my girl. I saw her turn towards me to celebrate, not noticing that she was about to die. I even saw my self too frozen to try to yell or cover her or push her out of the way.

And as she sat there with the plank in her chest gasping her last breaths, I saw that everyone in the arena was in hysterics- everyone but Casketman.

He just stood there, staring at me through the mask.

I’ve always wondered if he’d done it on purpose- killed his daughter on that cold Saturday night. Maybe he knew she’d told me who she was. Maybe he wanted to teach me a lesson of some sort. I never knew. I was never man enough to find out. All I can remember is the gurgling of my one true love and the eyes of Casketman staring at me from behind that mask.

There is a reason I tell you all of this, son. I want you to promise me that you will never have any fear. I want you to promise me that if you find true love, you’ll do whatever it takes to keep it. Fight for love, son. Because somewhere out there Casketman is waiting to take it all away from you.

Somewhere out there is a piece of casket waiting to impale all that you hold dear.

Leap in front of the casket piece, son.

Leap in front of the casket piece.

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