“I don’t know Mrs. Dunn, I don’t think it’s gonna’ fit in.” Mr. Floyd said, looking first at the painting, than at Mrs. Dunn.
Tears began to fill the corners of Mrs. Dunn’s already blood-shot eyes. “It has to fit. I promised I would send it with him.”
“Well, if we take it out the frame and roll the painting up we could fit both the painting and the frame in there.”
Mrs. Ethel Dunn was quiet as she gazed at the painting Herman commissioned for their twenty-fifth anniversary. Ethel was surprised when Herman presented her with a painting of their wedding picture that hung on the mantel. This was shortly after Herman ended the affair he was having with a woman only a year older than the number of years they were married. He apologized to Ethel for the affair when he gave her the painting. Ethel was more than eager to forgive him. The painting was a declaration of his undying love for her. After all they were going together since high school and have known each other practically their whole lives. She wasn’t willing to throw it away over a little indiscretion. Ethel knew at that moment she was his true love. They knew each other better than they knew themselves. They could finish each other sentences. They shared a life of good and bad times. They had two beautiful children who have turned into great adults. They were soul mates.
Herman told Ethel the reason he had the affairs because she was never satisfied. He needed to be with someone who didn’t demand anything from him. He said he was tired of not pleasing Ethel. He said he felt like he just couldn’t do enough. When they had the kitchen redone, Ethel complained they needed new appliances and new chairs to match the fixtures. When the last kid moved out, she wanted to trade in the SUV for a sports car. Not just any sports car, a Mercedes. Ethel was never satisfied, she always wanted more. When she got more it still wasn’t enough.
Herman grew up with his single mother. His father ran out when he was still in diapers. His mother was a skin popper and getting a fix was her main priority, feeding her children was secondary. She didn’t work. She received food stamps once a month and sold them as soon as she walked out the check cashing place. She would pay the rent but she was always two months behind. By the time Herman was twenty his mother had died due to complications of aids. He was in college and completed his education. He graduated with a 4.0 GPA and was being seduced by fortunate five hundred companies. By the time he was thirty he and Ethel owned their house and were very comfortable. Ethel never worked a day in her life.
Three years ago Herman was diagnosed with kidney failure. He took an early retirement so that he could concentrate on his health. He began deteriorating quickly. The treatments and house hold expenses depleted their savings. Herman had Ethel take out a second mortgage. Ethel wasn’t able to keep up with the payments and the house went into foreclosure.
When Herman was placed on life support, his dying wish was to be buried with their wedding portrait, frame and all. He was adamant that she didn’t take the painting apart. Ethel was touched. She knew at that moment that Herman loved her completely. He wanted to take the memory of their wedding to the grave with him. Now they were in the funeral home and the portrait did fit.
Mr. Floyd suggested taking the painting out of the frame. If that was the only way it will fit in the coffin. She would just have to put the frame in and he could re-frame the portrait when he gets to where he’s going.
“A’right, Mr. Floyd, take it out the frame.”
Mr. Floyd nodded his head and took a pen knife out his pocket and began losing the edges.
“Careful, I want the frame to go in the coffin.” Ethel instructed.
Mr. Floyd nodded and separated the top of the frame then turned it up side down to work the bottom of the frame. Papers began to fall from the back of the painting. Ethel bent down and began to pick them up. She paused to read one, US Treasury Bearer Bond. The face value was ten thousand dollars each and there had to be well over ten maybe even twenty of them. They dated back fifteen years.
Ethel looked at her dead husband. She glanced at the people who were patiently waiting for the wake to begin. Ethel’s heart started pounding. She felt the blood boiling in her skin. Perspiration beads began to form on her head. She bent down and gathered the rest of the bonds. She picked up a piece of the frame and began to bang on Herman’s head. Mr. Floyd grabbed her arm. Her son and daughter rushed to her side.
“Mom what’s’ wrong?” Her daughter asked.
“Not a thing. I can’t stay here you bury the bastard.”
You really can’t take it with you.