The service, for what it was worth had been short and to the point. It was more like a wake than a funeral really. Franklin had viewed the urn, a huge ornate gothic mermaid sculpture cast in unfinished copper and burnished around the edges, then he’d taken a seat near the back of the church next to the lawyer. Together they self-consciously bowed their heads and silently waited for some sort of words to be spoken about the deceased.
After a bit, an old weathered preacher crept from a hidden door near the podium up front. He stood there for a long while, his Bible resting on the surface of the lectern as he looked out sadly among the empty pews. Then, clearing his throat he opened the book and recited Genesis 1:26. After that, the service was over. The preacher walked over to the urn picked it up and handed it to Franklin.
“He’s in your hands now I suppose.” The old man said before shuffling off to the back and disappearing once again behind the hidden door.
There had been no pictures of Franklin’s father displayed at the funeral. No attendees had arrived besides Franklin, the preacher, and the lawyer. It was almost as if they were holding a service just for the urn itself he thought as he stood there holding the thing. The weight of it felt heavy and cold in his hands; much larger than what Franklin considered would be necessary to hold a person’s remains.
After the service Hogarth had insisted on taking him out to lunch. Rather than return to his office, they walked directly from the church about a block down the street. Franklin awkwardly favored the urn switching it from arm to arm until they arrived at an old diner resting just across from the town’s humble little courthouse. There Franklin sat in a booth, the mermaid stationed beside him where he picked at his food and watched the cars passing by on the road outside. The lawyer ate and talked.
“Believe it or not,” O’Reilly spoke between bites of his sandwich. “your father actually requested that Bible verse to be read at his funeral. It was in his last wishes.”
“Why?” Franklin asked, trying to remember the words. He wasn’t a religious man but he did know enough about the Good Book to realize that Genesis was about creation, not death. While he couldn’t recall any details of the passage, he’d retained enough of it to know that it had been concerned with something to do with God making man in his image and reaping the bounty of Earth’s harvest.
“Don’t know.” The lawyer said chewing. “He sent it to me on a piece of paper one day when he’d first heard that he was dying. He wrote something down about liking the way that God told man to rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the air; said that was all he wanted read at his funeral.”
“I guess it really meant a lot to him.” Franklin mumbled picking a fry from his plate and chewing it without much interest.
Whatever the reason for his father’s last wishes, the verse hadn’t been particularly suited for a memorial service and it hadn’t lent him any better understanding of who the man had been. Then again Franklin thought there probably wouldn’t have been any verse in any religious text that would have been appropriate for the kind of funeral where no one showed up and the only two people there didn’t even know the deceased. He was mad that there hadn’t even been a picture or a body. Was there anything that could have been said that would have explained things? .
“He liked to hunt.” Hogarth said smiling as if answering his thought. “I think he liked the stuff about the birds and fish because he liked hunting and fishing so much.”
The explanation seemed over simplistic but Franklin was starting to accept that, excluding whatever it was about the big fish tank out there at his father mansion in the woods, there probably wasn’t much mystery to the unknown man who had sired him. He was sitting across from his lawyer after all and even he didn’t seem to know or care much about understanding the motivations of his biggest client. Instead, Hogarth spent the rest of the meal regaling him with tales about his own experiences ice fishing and hunting in the surrounding wilderness. “You should go with me some time!” He said excitedly as he paid their bill. “You’ve already bagged your first buck and he’s a beauty!”
It took most of the rest of the afternoon for them to complete the reading of the will and to arrange transportation for Franklin while he was in town. After he’d learned that he had in fact inherited most of the property around the city, including a factory, a quarry and the diner in which they’d eaten lunch he’d called his wife and told her the good news. She expressed concern over the accident with the elk and anger that he hadn’t told her about it sooner but otherwise she was excited at the prospect of their good fortune. It was agreed that Franklin would spend another few days in town going through his father’s mansion while waiting for his car to be looked at by an insurance appraiser before returning home.
“You want to go see Joe?” Hogarth asked him after Franklin had said goodbye to his wife.
“Who?” He asked folding up the phone and placing it back into the pocket of his borrowed suit pants.
“That taxidermist down the street.” The lawyer said eagerly. “You’ll probably want him to mount those antlers for you after we get that elk cut off your car. Who knows, he might be able to answer a few questions about your dad.”
Franklin’s car and the elk jammed into the top of it still sat in the parking lot of Hogarth’s office. The lawyer had been kind enough to call a person that he knew at one of the local garages and ask them to come over and cut the beast off of it but that wouldn’t be until the next morning. There had been something about the mechanic needing to borrow a rotary saw from one of his cousins.
Franklin had caught a few people stopping in the street for a better look at the spectacle as he’d waited around throughout the day. Mostly though there was seldom any traffic and the majority of those that passed by his car with the elk sticking out of it paid the scene little mind. He himself had long since gotten over the shock of it but remained amused to see those who couldn’t help but take a better look.
“Do you want to go down there and talk to him?” The lawyer prodded.
“Sure.” Franklin answered reluctantly. In truth he was much more eager to get out to his father’s mansion than seek answers from the town taxidermist but Hogarth was his only means of transportation out to the estate and the lawyer seemed to excel at finding distractions. He’d kept promising Franklin a ride out there all day long as well as a complete tour of the angel factory. Instead he always seemed to find another paper that needed to be signed or phone call that needed to be made.
Together now both he and Hogarth grabbed their coats and headed down the road towards the shop. The air had become cooler than it had been that morning with encroachment of the long shadows of the evening. Franklin could see his breath in the air as they walked.
They crossed the street making their way to the doorway of the blank building where the taxidermist worked. “Joe will do whatever you want.” Hogarth was chattering away. “He could probably salvage the head if you want him too… although we should call Tim down at the garage and let him know you want to do that before he cuts it off and tows your car away.”
“I don’t really want any part of the elk.” Franklin quipped opening the door. “I just really want to talk to this guy about my dad.”
“Fair enough.” The lawyer answered. “Then I’ll take the head.”