One: Stab/Slab

Stab/Slab is the title of a serialized novel being written for Patrons of my Patreon account. The first installment is available below and to the public on Patreon, and all subsequent insallments will be visible only to Patrons as a token of my gratitude.

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One: Stab/Slab

The sign read: YOU STAB ‘EM, WE SLAB ‘EM. And it looked about as beaten as my car. I didn’t need to double check where I ought to be. My horrendous family-of-uncertain-origin pocked the asphalt in numbers rivaling the potholes.

With a rattle and squeak, my car shuddered to a halt under a sign:

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I should have trusted Father Thyme, my purported grandfather who allegedly kicked the bucket. He had a sense of humor few found useful. But, c’mon! This dreary, hunkering, gray cinderblock building with its endearing name and its parting lot and its door painted the same hooker red as the signs – the whole place couldn’t be more Thyme Zigadenus Steifl.

Exiting my obviously underclassed car, I pulled down on my dress hem and tottered on heels toward the door. Canvassing the sundry relatives scattered in little clutches, I confirmed that, yes, Father Thyme sent everyone an outfit for this event. The throwback goth twins wore a flowing, white gown and a white three-piece suit, respectively. I bit my lip and nearly fell down when I say my mother’s jean skirt and her mother’s velvet robe.

Were there no depths we would not plumb to meet his will’s requirements?

Catcalls and whistles flew my direction and I knew only too well the reason. This red dress, matching the door ahead, with its ruching and me with my curves were not a sight anyone could have expected. What they would never believe is that I wore this brief bit of satin and these spiked heels out of respect for the old man, not out of obligation.

Cool air and dim light made the transition from the parking lot to the lobby disorienting for a minute. The huge single room was draped in velvet and soaked in wine from plush carpet all the way up to the mirrored ceiling. No crosses or holy water graced these walls. We’d been to funerals before – an ordinary hazard in a sprawling family – but we’d never been served champagne at one until now. Cigar smoke, curling blue and ceremonious above our heads, replaced the more familiar incense.

“Um, I’m underage,” I said to the waiter guarding the door.

“Not here. Anyone over twelve drinks today.”

I lifted a glass and nodded slightly to the waiter who bore a murderous look.

True to the sign out front, Father Thyme reclined upon a slab of black marble. The Queen Mother, first to bear the man’s seed, led the procession of overt mourners who wailed, swooned, and beat on the poor man’s chest for more precious time with him. I wanted to tell them to take it easy, but I figured he wouldn’t mind, being as he wasn’t really there. Plus, I thought, he’s the one who supported their histrionics in his life and so he deserves their overwrought sorrow in his death. Slowly, a tall, thin man grasped each woman’s elbow, in turn, and guided their entourage to plush couches lining the walls.

As I approached, Father Thyme’s skin looked warm, so warm that his rigid state appeared fake and pretentious. I wasn’t the only one to move silently forward and poke his arm just to be certain, but I was the first.

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