Move Over, ALCOR. Phoenix-based Preserve A Life wants to make sure the dearly departed are ready for their close-ups.
by Esteban Sauer
(Author's note: While at Phoenix New Times, I wrote several "spoofs" for the paper, this being my first, under the pseudonym "Esteban Sauer." Originally published by PNT on October 28, 2004, just in time for Halloween.)
It was Timothy Braswell's 13th birthday, and the candles on his pistachio-flavored ice cream cake had already burned halfway down to the white and green frosting. With a noisemaker in one hand and a silver-and-red party hat on her head, Timothy's mom, Gloria, was growing more and more annoyed as her husband, Robert, looked on quietly.
"Come on, Timmy, blow out the candles before they melt the cake," she admonishes the dark-haired lad, who is suddenly full of himself now that he's entered his teen years.
"Why don't you get Granny to blow them out?" cracks Tim, gesturing toward the elderly lady seated to his right at the dining room table -- Robert's mother, Esther. She, too, is wearing a party hat, though it's cocked a tad to the side, making the casual observer think she may be suffering from some sort of paralysis.
"You know that Granny Esther can't do that," Gloria admonishes. "If you don't blow out the candles, then there'll be no presents for you, young man."
"Whatever!" spits Tim, ripping off his birthday hat and throwing it to the carpet. "This birthday sucks! I'm too old for this. I'm not a baby anymore. I want to go hang out with my friends."
Tim shoves past his mother and grandmother, and in the process, knocks Esther Dunlop, age 76, to the floor. Esther lies there unmoving; Tim's sister, Megan, picks up her grandmother and sets her back in the chair, straightening her hair and closing her mouth, which had popped open in the fall. The ease with which the skinny 14-year-old has righted the older lady is almost startling, given Esther's seemingly sturdy frame.
No one says anything about the cake or the candles, which have since burned themselves out and are sending up wisps of smoke, like incense at a Mass for the dead. The imagery is appropriate. What is not readily apparent from this scene is that Mrs. Dunlop expired in June because of a massive cerebral hemorrhage; she died instantly as she lay on the couch in the Braswells' home, where she had lived for several years, watching a rerun of her favorite show: CSI: Miami. What now sits before Timothy Braswell's melting ice cream cake -- blue hair and all -- is her lifelike, taxidermied corpse.
Read more and check out some pretty amusing illos at the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine.