Home » Death » Taxidermy for amateurs (short story)

Taxidermy for amateurs (short story)

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Emma had no way of knowing how her experiment in home taxidermy would work out until she tried. She’d read up about it in a correspondence course, changing her name to Eugene on the paperwork. No self-respecting school would teach a woman how to do such work, especially if they knew how she planned to use this knowledge.

She’d started simple – a dead raccoon she found near the edge of the field. A bird who’d gotten too close to a stray cat. It was unfortunate that the possum she’d spotted just down the road from the farm was too far gone, the turkey vultures having gotten first dibs. Sure, she still could have practiced on the mangy thing, but she wanted her artwork to look natural, or as natural as the deceased can look.

It took her two and a half years to work up the courage to try on a human. This had been her plan all along, but she had to be sure of her skill before she tried something so bold. Even men wouldn’t be so presumptuous as to step into that field of work without official license.

Emma knew too many folks in the village who went into debt over having to bury their dead. There was no good reason to spend a year’s income on someone who couldn’t appreciate it. New fancy clothes for someone who could never afford better than hand-me-downs his whole life? Nonsense. Silk lined coffin to sleep in, when cotton sheets were just fine all their life? Ludicrous.

And worst of all was all those chemicals pumped into their veins to keep them fresh for whenever Jesus got around to making a return visit. When he came, he’d better have a shovel, a jackhammer, and a pair of wire cutters to help them out after he woke them from their slumber. 6 feet down stuck in a concrete vault and a locked coffin was bad enough. Their mouth wired shut (to avoid any unpleasantness during the viewing) would make life difficult for the newly reanimated. Who wanted to come back from the dead like that?

Emma had another plan, a kinder, cheaper plan. Taxidermy. Dry out Grandpa Ross or Uncle Seymour so he doesn’t develop a case of the rot, and prop him up in a chair in the living room. Much cheaper, and he’d still be around to chat with. When the second coming happened he’d be just as ready as anyone else.

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