It's time for the October WEP challenge, and after missing several this year, I'm back with a tentative offering. I couldn't do any of the horror-type stories that the prompt and badge suggest. It's humor, and I hope you all enjoy it as a sort of palate-cleanser after all the spooky stories out there this month. But be sure to pop on over to the WEP and check out the other stories in the hop!
As for me--I'm back on the road again, and will be reading the stories when and as I can, probably continuing into next month. If you leave a comment I *will* get back to you. Just don't hold your breath, okay? I don't want to be responsible for anyone turning blue in the face.
“It’s a lovely piece, don’t you think, dear?”
“Mmm, yes. Is that the one you want, then?”
“I’m not sure. This has a lovely color, and the fine grain would look well, I think.”
“WIll it do the job?”
“Well, any of them will be cold enough. And I presume we can get whatever size we want, so I think I mostly need the right look.”
The salesman spotted the well-dressed couple studying the marble samples, rubbed his hands together, and approached the shoppers with anticipation in his eye.
“Is Madam looking for a slab or a stone?”
“Oh, not a slab. We could never afford to do the whole thing in marble. But for an accent—yes, I think this would do nicely.” She laid her hand on a piece of fine-textured pink-tinted marble. “Can it be cut?”
“Of course. Madam has particular dimensions in mind?”
“And is this for yourselves, or...” The salesman let the question drift off into a vague query.
“Oh, it’s for me,” the woman laughed. “I’m really the only one who needs it, you know.”
“I see.” The salesman assumed a solemn expression, and murmured something about regrets. The woman, distracted by another marble slab, didn’t hear. Her companion did, and a faint hint of interest, the first he’d shown since entering the showroom, crossed his face. He opened his mouth to say something, then shut it.
“Allow me to get your specifics, then, Madam,” the salesman said in a hushed and respectful tone. “Would you be having it engraved now, or, ah, after?”
“Engraved?” The woman appeared startled. Her companion pulled out a large handkerchief and blew his nose noisily. She gave him a dirty look.
“It is customary, my dear,” the man said, when he had his sinuses under control. He appeared to suffer from a curious tic that kept his mouth twitching.
“Oh, of course,” she said, not looking at all as thought it was “of course.” “What do you think would be best, dear? Dates? Some kind of wise or witty saying?”
“The dates, of course,” the salesman put in. He pulled a notebook from one pocket, a gold pen from another. “I’ll just note it down. Date of birth?”
“Oh!” The woman looked confused. “I don’t think that’s relevant. I was thinking more like, ‘Blessed be all that springs from this slab.”
Her husband considered that. “How about, ‘What is laid out on this stone will rise in the flames?’”
“Oh, that’s perfect,” his wife exclaimed. “It captures the spirit exactly!”
The salesman appeared ill. He had turned pale, and beads of sweat glistened on his face. “Are you quite certain?” He asked faintly.
“Of course we are,” the woman said.
Her husband said, “Engraved on the unpolished side, of course.”
“Oh, of course.” The salesman really didn’t seem to know what he was saying. His head was spinning. He collected the relevant billing information from the couple, and saw them to the door.
“Oh,” the woman added before they left. “How soon can you have that ready?”
“Um, we work quickly. Is Madam expecting to need it soon?”
“Oh, yes,” she said happily. “By the end of next week, if everything goes well, don’t you think, dear?”
“Rather. I’ll arrange to have the contractor pick it up.”
The salesman, thinking that rather a strange way to to speak of the usual sort who picked up his stones, headed to his office. He needed a drink.
Outside, the sleek black Audi pulled out of the parking lot. The wife, driving, was absorbed by the need to find a gap in traffic, and her thoughts about finally winning the prize for the best pie crust once she had her marble slab in place in the kitchen they were remodeling. Only her husband could spare the attention to the elegant sign for Simmon’s Granite and Marble, and to see the part of the sign they hadn’t noticed on the way in, perhaps because someone had bumped it with a truck and knocked it askew.
The part that read, “Headstones and Monuments.”
All images and text ©Rebecca M. Douglass, unless otherwise indicated.
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Check out the other entries in the hop!