Senator Michelle Chandler lay on her back, a mess of broken bones and lacerations. She was a comely woman, long wavy auburn hair framed a round face with an aquiline nose and brilliant green eyes. Her full lips could split into a bright smile and light up any room. She was also smart, graduating from Harvard Law, starting her own practice and eventually sought and won a seat in the state senate. She was well liked and very popular.
She was also dead.
Mr. Lux sighed in his dry-leather way, choosing a scalpel from his tray of tools. The embalming machine hummed behind him as the chemicals mixed. Normally, the lanky mortician did not concern himself with the living, but in this case he could not help feeling slightly upset that Senator Chandler had died so young in what investigators said was a suicide. She was instrumental in passing banking legislation through the state senate that had allowed Mr. Lux to receive a loan that kept his business open. Without her, his doors would be shut today.
Raising the scalpel, Mr. Lux prepared to incise the carotid artery. Pausing, he glanced to a cabinet in the far corner. He never used the Speaker unless the body wanted to talk, but he had doubts as to Senator Chandler’s suicide.
“Hrm.” Today he would make an exception.
Carefully removing from the cabinet what looked like an old candlestick telephone, Mr. Lux brought the device over to the exam table and Senator Chandler. Leaning over with creaking joints, Mr Lux placed the receiver against his ear, held the base of the Speaker up to the Senator’s closed mouth and whispered into her ear.
“Hrm,” his voice rasped, “Senator, do you have a message?”
Straightening, he waited.
The receiver was silent.
Sighing and creasing his brow, was wind against sharp rocks and a folding of bone. “You are going to be difficult, are you not, Senator?” Approaching the corner cabinet once again he grated, “Let us see if we can not wake you up some, hrm?”
With slow hands, Mr Lux adjusted an ancient shock therapy harness to the Senator’s head. He cleared his throat like two bricks scraping together. “Now, hrm,” he turned the dial. “We shall listen.”
The Senator’s body convulsed, and the room filled with the scent of burning hair. Mr Lux turned off the machine and once again applied the Speaker, whispering in her ear. “Senator, what is your message, hrm?”
Straightening, he waited.
The receiver was once again silent.
“Hrm, perhaps another application of the harness will do.” As his hand touched the dial, the bell rang upstairs and the sounds of footsteps could be heard. Glancing at the wall clock, Mr Lux smiled. “Ah, Mr Gunderson’s party has arrived.” Sliding his arms into his large black coat, he told Senator Chandler, “We will resume when I return, hrm?” He opened the door and looked back at the broken body. “Do not go anywhere.” Chuckling at his joke, he left, closing the door.
Soon, footsteps, muffled voices and a woman’s wailing could be heard from upstairs. The basement remained silent.
A light flickered and in that instant, if Mr Lux had been there, he would have heard in the receiver a woman’s voice coming from some place far away.
I gave Supermaren this prompt: Use this line of dialogue verbatim in your response: ‘I like a girl who can kick my ass.’
I love Vonnegut’s work and I would put him in my Top Ten List of favorite authors, so I was pretty happy to get this prompt. The quote instantly reminded me of one of Vonnegut’s short stories, “Who Am I This Time?” and I had a difficult time not being influenced by it. So, I turned to Mr Lux, a character I promised to bring back some day and one who definitely is more comfortable with death rather than life and also very much embraces his profession. You can see what Mr Lux does with the information he gets from the corpses in this story.
Just for laughs I ran this story through I Write Like and it came up with Vonnegut. Guess I was influenced after all.