Tuesday, October 20, 2020

WEP: Grave Mistake


 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.

686 words.

FCA

Grave Mistake


“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.”

“Right, Dear.”

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?”

“Well, naturally.”

“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.”    

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All images and text ©Rebecca M. Douglass, unless otherwise indicated.
As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated!


Check out the other entries in the hop!



43 comments:

  1. Funny ending. I was thinking they would be doing some creepy ritual. You had me totally fooled.

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    1. The poor salesguy was clearly starting to think that, too!

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  2. Hi,
    I really like this, Yeah!!! This was so relaxing for my mind and I couldn't help but laugh.
    Great job.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat

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    1. Yay! Relaxing and laugh-inducing is pretty much what I was going for :)

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  3. He he, too funny. You totally got me. He thought they were nuts and they thought he was nuts. Fun entry. Thanks for sharing it.

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  4. No wonder the salesman was in such a state. Though looks like the couple are certainly not going to be the only ones.

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    1. He needs to fix his signage, for sure! Or else go ahead and branch out into countertops and pie stones.

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  5. A quirky tale well told Rebecca. Talking at cross purposes. Poor salesman.

    I’ve been watching your travels on fb. Thanks for posting!

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  6. Absolutely funny. It tickled me all along, right from the beginning to end. The surprises and minute descriptions played acute in delivering the laughter.

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  7. Love the humor! I can see myself doing the same thing. A novice at home remodeling, it'd be too easy, as long as no other indication existed. LOL Great addition to the challenge!

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    1. Hey, for all I know, it might be a great way to get a good marble stone for rolling out pastry.

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  8. Love the twist to the end! Did the husband really not know what the place was? With his earlier stifling of humor, I rather suspect he suspected... if you know what I mean?

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  9. LOL. That was funny. Well written too.
    Nancy

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  10. Hi Rebecca - this was great - and I loved the story ... now I want my kitchen remodelled - great read - stay safe and enjoy the travelling - Hilary

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    1. Ha! That wasn't a reaction I expected to invoke! :D

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  11. Loved the humour! Grave mistake indeed! :) Great use of the prompt.

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  12. I read this on the first day but wasnt in a place to comment. But it had me totally confused, as I was in the place of the salasman. Kitchens are not my speciality, of course! Great peice of deception :)

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    1. Confession time: I remembered a random bit from an old LM Montgomery story, just a throw-away about someone who used a gravestone as a pastry board...

      Otherwise, I'm not sure I'd have known that you use marble for that.

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  13. I always love a story with characters who are oblivious to what's actually going on. Thanks for entering this into an otherwise dark theme contest!

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    1. Dark themes are not what I want to write, so I'm always looking for ways to turn the prompts :D

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  14. This one made me laugh! I loved it! Misunderstandings can be so amusing. And hey, they'll still get the marble slab they need, so I guess it's all good in the end. Thanks for the lighthearted entry!

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  15. LOL! Absolutely love this! This drew me in and I was laughing out loud towards the end. The poor salesman though!

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    1. Aw! So pleased it drew a laugh! Yeah, that poor salesman might never be the same again.

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  16. The rather unexpected, and humorous ending fits the piece in a strangely perfect manner. Their chosen blind-spot explains the awkward reactions they receive from the salesman, that continues until the end. Well done.

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    1. Thanks. Yes, when you have a certain expectation, you do tend to interpret what you hear to fit!

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  17. Brilliant! I still thought this might turn a bit spookier until you delivered the punchline. I could see the expression on the poor salesman's face. Very fun take on the prompt!

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    1. Thanks! I'm not in the mood for spooky right now, so I had to find a way to make it a humor piece. I'm glad I succeeded.

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  18. Great, you've put a smile on my face.

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  19. Hi Rebecca - congratulations on your well deserved win - and fun take on the prompt. Stay safe and all the best - Hilary

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  20. Love this!! I'm not surprised it was the winning entry at all! Congrats :)

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  21. Interesting and funny. Husbands... Hehe. Just wondering about the reaction of the woman when the supposed slab was finally delivered! Congratulations for the win.

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