The boys did their best at sitting Peter up, by way of positioning themselves on either side of him, bookending him. Henry whispered to his brother, “Sorry I never cleared the lawn. Didn’t expect all this.” Peter turned his head slowly to look at his brother, then nodded.

Mother, now conscious and more emotional than anyone ever saw her, crawled over to her son. She cut herself on a log but kept on. She took his icy hand. He looked at her and questioned, “Am I your son? I can’t feel my arms or legs.”

She stared at him in disbelief, her blood pressure at an all- time high. Then she opened her ample mouth. “Yes, Peter, it’s me, Mother! Where have you been? We all thought we lost you! Don’t be like your father!! Don’t leave us like this! Smarten up, boy!”

At this point, everyone at the funeral was standing nearby, anxious to hear the answers. Even the dogs are crowding in, sniffing and sensing a response.

Peter glanced all around. None of these people he knew and though he understood that waking up in a coffin pre-burial was grounds for wonderment, he wished they’d all just go away. His eyes fell to the ground beneath him. “I….I don’t remember anything of this life. I assume you all know me, but I’m lost on you. I only can recall pieces of the next life.” Peter was spent at breathing, let alone explaining himself, a living corpse or not.

He spoke again, this time clearer. “When I was dead, I was lost. Alone. There was no heaven, and there was no hell.”

The old Minister blacked out, his lifeless body bouncing off the bird bath then landed sprawling onto the wet grass. Uncle Anthony, maybe shy of 60, clutched his heart, as though having a feigned heart attack. Aunt Betty’s dogs howled and circled the coffin, then urinated on the grass around it.

Mother, disturbed at all the disturbing behavior of her family and closest friends, put her foot down, literally. Like a sumo wrestler, with knuckles on her fat hips, she slammed one foot then the next down as she stood up. “I’m sure he’s kidding. He’s always been a jokester. But please… someone call 911! We need an ambulance for my son!”

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