The entryway to the Bremmen Brothers’ Funeral home was filled with flowers from a previous service the day before. Bright splashes of lavender orchids stood out among the peace lilies and other more conservative flowers.
The older Bremmen brother, John, came out to greet Ben.
“Good morning, Mr. Ashmore. We are so sorry for your loss,” he said, taking Ben’s hand in a warm gesture and not a formal handshake.
“Thank you,” Ben said simply.
“May I get you some coffee or other beverage? I know it’s been a harrowing night for you. You must be tired.”
“I am. Coffee would be great. Cream and sugar too, please.”
“Sure. Why don’t you come into our office here and I’ll be right back,” John guided Ben into a spacious office with rich dark wood furniture and comfortable leathers seats. Ben sank into one of the chairs and could feel the weariness starting to creep over his body.
He wasn’t the young man he once was. Nights without sleep were common during the early days of building a business, or learning a trade for a gung-ho employer who knew how to praise and encourage, but those days were long gone. And pulling an all-nighter during a tragedy was barely comprehensible to Ben at his age.
His phone buzzed causing him jerk slightly.
Had I dozed off?
It was a text from Steve. “All staff present. They wanted to do ‘something’ for you. Seems like they want to keep the company humming. Call if you need ANYTHING.”
“Thanks Steve. Tell all it’s appreciated more than I can ever tell them. Will come in as soon as I can to update everyone in person.” Ben replied and slid his phone back into his pocket.
John walked into the office carrying a large cup of coffee and handed it to Ben, “Here you are Mr. Ashmore.”
“It’s just Ben, and thank you Mr. Bremman.”
Ben took a long sip of coffee and realized it was a nice quality blend, “Very nice coffee.”
“A local roaster makes it here from beans in Costa Rica.” John stated while looking over papers on his desk.
“Really good,” Ben said taking another drink. “So, what do you need from me?”
“Well, in light of the changes, would you still like to have an urn for the service, or will you like to set up a memorial table arrangement?” He asked pulling out a computer pad to make notes.
“I’m sure we’ll use an urn for the remains after cremation.’
John paused, lowered the pad, and looked towards Ben with a confused look.
“Is that a problem?” Ben asked.
“But without the body we won’t have any remains to put in an urn,” John said still confused.
Ben set down his coffee and was even more confused. Thinking he’d misunderstood the line of questions due to a lack of sleep, he asked “What do you mean ‘without the body?’ Was it not delivered to you already? They told me it would be here by seven this morning.”
John opened a folder and pulled out a sheet of paper that had been faxed and explained, “We were notified that she had donated her body to science and all arrangements had been made to send her to the University where she worked. I assumed you may have just not known about this in her will and that she had listed ‘organ donor’ on her driver’s license.”
Ben shot forward in his seat, completely clear-headed and angry. “That’s not right at all! I was there when she got her license. Neither of us wanted to donate our bodies to science. I remember the conversation clearly. AND, I’ve looked at the back of her license. It did NOT say ‘organ donor!’ I would have, totally, razzed her if she had said one thing and done another.”
Ben took the fax, reading over it in a very confused state.
“Perhaps someone else was supposed to go to the University. Was there another… deceased person there tonight?” John said delicately.
Ben continued to stare at the fax shaking his head. “No. No one.”
He handed the sheet back to John, “Who sent this in? There isn’t a return number. And do you know where at the University a body would be delivered? Maybe I can get there before anything is done to Terri.” Ben flinched, “Terri’s body,” he said almost as a murmur.
“I know a few people who might be able to help me find out,” he paused thoughtfully, “Can you go over to the University while I start making some calls.”
“Absolutely!” Ben practically leaped to his feet and then turned to head out the door, but John grabbed his arm before he made one step. Ben shot John an incredulous look for an explanation.
“Mr. Ashmore… Ben…” he reached in his pockets and handed Ben a set of car keys, “Take our vehicle. I think if you find her, you’ll need more space than is in your car.”
Ben looked at him, took the keys, smiled and said, “Thanks John. I’ll be careful with your property.”
“You do that. And I’ll call you when I find out anything,” he said.
Ben raced out to the car, started up the hearse and headed across town to Terri’s lab at the University.
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© 2013 Eric Huber. Silicon(e)™ is a work of fiction. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.