Harvey and Ethyl
“It stinks in here.”
“It’s not bad. Just a little exhaust fumes, that’s all. Nothin you won’t get used to.”
“How long you think we’re goin’ to have to stay in here?”
“I dunno. I suppose until somebody gets up enough gumption to deal with us.”
“Well this is just ridiculous – just absolutely intolerable. I never, not in my whole life did I ever imagine we’d ever end up like this. I’m heartbroken, Harvey.”
“Good God woman! What are you bitchin’ about? You just got here last week. I’ve been sittin here for pretty near five years already. The only thing that kept me goin’ was the idea that you’d join me sooner or later, and I’d at least have some company. This business of bein’ cremated and havin’ your ashes stuck in a stupid urn sure ain’t what I figured it to be. Once they put the lid on and sealed it, I was stuck.”
“I suppose that’s partly my fault Harvey, but I’m really not sorry. I just wanted you to wait for me, so I stuck you in the garage for the time being. I didn’t think I’d last another five years and I didn’t want you Tom-cattin’ around on me in the mean time.”
“Aw Ethyl, you know I wouldn’t do that! You’re still my beautiful girl.”
“I am not! I’m a pile of bloody ashes in a cheap plastic bag inside this fancy urn. And that’s just what I feel like. You’re goin’ to get me all upset Harvey!”
“Now Ethyl, calm yourself. Get a grip. It ain’t the end of the world you know. At least you’re not jammed up against a rotten old battery like I am.”
“Haha, I got news for you Harvey. It is the end of the world – at least for us. We’re dead; remember? And they went and stuck a gerry can of gas next to me. At least that’s what it smells like.”
“Don’t remind me. I just gotta figure a way to get our spirits outa here. Just think. If our dutiful daughter and her screwball husband had done what it said in the will, our ashes would be scattered all over the rose garden by now and we could be doin’ what we used to do out there. I’m getting all horny just thinkin’ about it.”
“Aw jeez, do dead people still think about such things?”
“Apparently. What else is there to think about while we’re trying to get the hell outa here? Too bad we couldn’ta been put in the same urn. We’d blow the lid right off the thing.”
“Oh stop it Harve. You’ll get me all excited.” Ethyl gave a little laugh. “Hey, I wonder-” She trailed off.
“What? What woman? If you got any ideas, spout them out, for God’s sakes!”
“Well,” she mused, “suppose the next time they come into the garage, we yell our fool heads off. Do you think they might hear us?”
“Nah, I don’t think so. I swear at them every time they show up, and call them every name under the sun. Doesn’t help a bit except for my ego.”
“I feel terribly tired all of a sudden. I didn’t think you could get tired when you’re dead.”
“It’s these damned fool ashes,” said Harvey. “They just drag a person down. “Why don’t you just rest a bit and I’ll pretend to cuddle you – just like the old days.”
“Okay, that sounds comforting. Hey, get your hand outa there.”
“Haha. That’s not my hand.”
“Well, you old bugger!”
“Shhh. Someone’s coming.”
It was Ben Hobman, their next-door neighbor, was coming for the gerry can of special gas for the roto-tiller. As he grabbed it down, he noticed it was right next to the two urns of his late neighbors. He instinctively swept his straw hat off his head, held it to his chest and said, “Howdy neighbors.”
To their daughter Nancy who had accompanied him he said, “What in thunder are these urns doing here in the garage? Did you already scatter their ashes in the rose garden like they said in their will?”
Nancy started to cry. “No, we couldn’t,” she sobbed. “We just couldn’t bring ourselves to do it. And Stan didn’t want the urns in the house.”
“Well Judas H. Priest!” Boomed Ben. “So ya stuck ‘em out here in the garage between a dead battery and a gas can! What kinda respect is that?”
“Well, I didn’t know where else to out them,” Nancy whimpered.
“So ya cleaned out the house and moved right in lickety split and stuck the old folks out in the garage like they was nobody and life goes on? Is that it?”
No, no!” wailed Nancy. “You don’t understand!”
“Oh I understand alright. I understand you got no brains in your heads at all. You’re so busy thinkin’ about yourselves and your own comfort, you forget about your own parents. You can’t just leave them in limbo like that! You’re interferin’ with the completion of the circle of life. You know – ‘ashes to ashes, dust to dust’. Yet you’ve got their spirits sealed up in a tin can out in the garage like so much junk. They’re locked in there and can’t get out.”
“Oh God,” blubbered Nancy.
“Listen,” said Ben, “I’ve known your parents longer than you have. We been neighbors for more than forty years so I probably know them better than you do. So if you can’t bring yourself to do it, I’ll do it for you. Actually, I’ll do it for them. It’s time that rose garden got a little attention anyways.”
He picked up the two urns and set them in the wheel barrow standing in the corner, wheeling it out toward a tattered rose garden at the end of the property.
“What’s happening?” asked Ethyl, a little shaken up.
“I don’t really know,” replied Harvey. “That sounded like Ben. I think he’s taking us somewhere.”
There was quiet for some time then a tapping on the lid of the urns. Holy crap, that was noisy! The sharp taps gave way to a prying sound and suddenly there was air. Oh my God, nice clean fresh air. Ben had already hoed the flowerbeds into pretty good shape. Now he gently dumped the ashes out into the wheelbarrow. Gingerly, as if he were dealing with living remains of his friends, he mixed the ashes of both together and spread them evenly around the bushes. They seemed to take on a sparkle as he worked. Ben felt extremely satisfied having completed the job. Looking back from the garage where he deposited the wheelbarrow, he felt a satisfaction of having helped his neighbors complete the circle of life.
“This is cozy,” said Harvey.
“Get off me you big galoot.” She was giggling gleefully.