The family all rose and helped clear away the chairs. They also did their best to kick the spare wood at their feet back. Then they all joined arms and began to sing Amazing Grace, while they swayed side to side. Not one person knew all the lyrics so a lot of messing up took place amongst some humming. They ended before the coffin was lowered so they began again, and this time louder and more emotional. Tears streamed down Mother’s face and she keep saying, “No!” during the rendition. The dogs howled. The younger boys cried as Henry tried to console all three of them.
Due to all the maddening noise buzzing in that back yard, at first, no one noticed the quiet pounding from inside the airtight coffin. Thump, thump, thump. Mother howled louder than the dogs as Henry tried to shove tissue in her face. She slapped him and told him to mind his own business. And then the singing stopped.
Through Mother’s gasps of sadness, a definitive knocking could be heard. The sound disappeared but everyone stared in silence at that box, some with jaws open and heads cocked. Then again… loud banging and kicking, followed by muffled yells were definitely coming from inside that coffin.
Gasps were heavy in the crowd as they watched in grave horror as the coffin itself shook. The audible screaming intensified as the box began to sway. Immediately, the family circled the casket in total disbelief and mortal shock.
No one had spoken, only shrieked, until Mother opened her lips. “Henry!! Pry open that lid! NOW!!!”
Hank stood there, dumbfounded and heavy set. He stared at the coffin and heard only muffles coming from Mother. She slapped him as hard as she could on the face. He fell down and kept staring at the coffin as it wiggled and heaved. Finally, with everyone poking at him, he shook his head and snapped out of the funk he was in.
With Caulfield’s help, Henry made quick work of ridding the coffin of its nails. Why did the Minister use such tiny nails he thought as he pulled them out of the pine. Mother was barking in his ear to go faster and all he could do was slow down under the pressure. After Caulfield, the Minister and Henry removed the last nail, they stood there for a second, maybe ten. Caulfield, Henry and the Minister all had their hands resting on the box. No more bangs, punches, kicks or yells were heard. The casket didn’t shimmy or sway. Silence reigned for that moment in that unorganized back yard.
“Okay boys,” Henry nervously said as he wiped the sweat from his ginger brow. “On the count of three…”
They made terrified eye contact and licked their lips. Mother was clutching little Edwin hard, darn near choking him. Aunt Betty was covering the dog’s eyes, not wanting to scar them for life.
Before Henry got to the count of three, the lid swung open, kicked out hard from the inside…