Tom Farrell took a deep breath in the basement of Whitfield Funeral Home. It stunk of formaldehyde, musk and mold. All of which, the young schoolteacher supposed, made for a more motivated buyer.
This part of the funeral home was dimly lit by a string of sixty-watt light bulbs hanging along two overhead beams. Coffins, arranged by price and material, were displayed oblong on wooden pallets against the wall on the cement floor. Infant and smaller coffins hung by piano wire. Tom now understood the demands of the dead placed upon the living for those left unprepared. Only, I should've been prepared. This should've been done six months ago. He willed himself not to cry.
"Take your time," old Norm Whitfield said, sitting atop the basement's bottom step. "Box of tissues over there." He gestured to a box of Kleenex on top of a nearby shelf, his Vermont twang unmistakable.
Tom looked at the first casket on the left-hand row, a lovely brass capsule that someone in a mausoleum could appreciate. Or afford. He walked to the next coffin and looked at the placard, wondering how he would pay for any of these. He continued down the row quickly, barely glancing at the display cards.