Engrid buzzed the intercom telling me Mr. Hoggins is in the lobby and would like to sell his coffin back. I spit up my coffee. I’ve been in the funeral business for 20 years and never heard anything like this. A family member changing their mind from metallic to Wood, sure. But never anyone wanting to return their OWN coffin. I started wiping the spit and coffee off of the stack of invoices below me as I told her to send him in my office.
The steel knob turned and in walked a healthy Sam Hoggins, without his usual green oxygen tank in tow. This was not the same man I had met several months ago with terminal stage four lung cancer. My eyebrows raised to show off all the whites of my eyes, as he took a seat.
“Hello Sam. How are you?” I said, trying not to laugh at how confused I sounded.
He smiled put his palms out in a ta-da fashion around his face.
“I’m great! Actually Beyond great! My cancer is all gone!”
I stood up in my chair listening intently. “How?”
“About a week after I purchased this coffin, I drove into the city to for an experimental procedure. At the time it was a long shot, but if there was a chance I’d promised Martha that I would take it for her!”
He continued on with the complicated medial jargon of the operation. I was in utter awe. It was one of the most miraculous things I had ever heard. This man was a goner, but fought tooth and nail to live. Eventually he changed the subject.
“As you can tell I have a new lease on life! I want to surprise Martha by taking her down to live in Boca Raton. Will you buy my coffin back? It’s never been used.”
I began drawing up the paper work, while I had one of my staff get the coffin out of his Dodge and place in back in the showroom. We both signed and I shook his hand.
“Good luck on everything Mr. Hodgins!”
“Thank you! But could you do me a favor?”
I leaned in close.
“I have to run a few more errands before heading home. If Martha calls, could you not mention this? I would like it to be a surprise.”
“Absolutely!” I answered.
He got into his Dodge and roared down the drive way. I sat down at my desk and got back to work on the invoices.
A few hours later Engrid buzzed again saying Martha Hodgins was on the line. I looked at myself in the reflection off the window. Remembering what to do, I picked up the black Cisco phone.
“Mrs. Hodgins how are you?”
There was a giant sniffle before the voice spoke. “I am as good as I can be, John.”
I smiled as I played along. “Understandable, what can I do for you?”
“Well, I’m still at the hospital and they are about to the pull the plug on Sam. His brother Bobby said he would take the coffin over to you for prepping of the wake. Did he make it there yet?”
My jaw hit the floor.