Stevie was an insecure human. No matter that he built a thriving business, had a beautiful, compassionate wife, and two talented kids, his son a high school basketball star, his daughter a budding ballet dancer. Stevie had a life most others could only hope for.
Recently, he’d been even more emotionally fragile than usual. Trusting his gut, he was convinced that his business partner Avery was embezzling, his wife Susan was having an affair with his best friend Ben, his children hated him, as did his employees. Even his mother, who when Stevie was a child, had to constantly assure him that he wasn’t adopted, wouldn’t return his calls. All of this a week before he was to turn the dreaded fifty.
When combing through the evidence, an outsider might think that Stevie was onto something. Why was a fairly large amount missing from the business petty cash account to which only he and Avery had access? Why did his wife Susan (whose league he always thought he was way out of) have several lunches with his best friend Ben when Stevie was on a recent business trip? Why did Brittnee and Todd ignore their dad, even when he texted them from across the dinner table? Recently, it seemed a majority of Stevie’s employees, who had been with Savery Silverware since its inception, were avoiding him. Por qué? And why in the wide wide world of cutlery was his mother Belle ghosting him?
So naturally, to find answers, Stevie’s gut had first dibs and convinced him to take the only action that made sense. Stevie faked his death so he could secretly observe his own funeral for the purpose of finding out wtf was going on.
The pseudocide: In weeks predating his “death,” Stevie went for uncustomary nighttime swims in the ocean. His family thought he was nuts, but he contended that it was the only activity that relaxed him. One night, Stevie didn’t return home from his swim. The next morning, police discovered remnants of his swimsuit scattered on the beach, covered in blood. The forensic lab, who identified the DNA as Stevie’s, also found shark genes on the fragments of the suit. Done deal. On to the funeral.
Prior to the burial, Stevie perched himself in a tree overlooking the gravesite. He was ready to let the chips fall where they may. Family, friends, employees, customers, even some high school acquaintances were in attendance. Stevie had no idea he was that beloved. But his good ol’ belly told him not to jump to conclusions before he heard what was said about him. Stevie was all ears.
When most in attendance admitted they had been ignoring Stevie for weeks because they were afraid to blow the plan for his surprise fiftieth birthday bash, he almost fell out of the tree.
It turned out that his partner Avery wasn’t embezzling. Stevie was relieved to hear that he emptied the considerable petty cash account to pay for the party. Susan and his best friend Ben? No affair. They had lunches to discuss the guest list. Up in the tree, Stevie’s heart pulsated joyously.
When son Todd, who brought his basketball to the gravesite, dazzled the mourners with some amazing dribbling tricks, he credited his dad with teaching him the game. Stevie’s eyes welled. Daughter Brittnee performed a graceful, impressionistic ballet around the symbolically empty coffin in dedication to her father. Stevie’s droplets became ocular waterfalls. He was surprised, but ecstatic, that his abdominal intuition was so wrong.
It was Mom’s turn. She spoke of her son’s lifelong adoption paranoia, and definitively stated that Stevie absolutely was not. Upon hearing this testimony, at his own funeral, where there is no substitute for truth, Stevie excitedly leapt up, causing the tree branch to snap. As he tumbled down, and landed headfirst into the open casket, gasps of horror filled the air.
Not long thereafter, as Stevie’s real funeral began, we learned that he died instantly of blunt head trauma. There was silence, because after all, what can anyone say?
As the shaken mourners headed for their cars, through the tinted windows of the lead limo they could make out Stevie’s wife Susan making out with his best friend Ben. Mom, walking by with the clergyman, asked. “Am I a bad person if I lied about Stevie not being adopted?”
Moral: Trusting your gut is always a fifty-fifty proposition. Problem is, which fifty to believe.
George Beckerman is a veteran TV/film writer whose short fiction has been published in The Punch Magazine, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, Johnny America, Down In The Dirt Magazine and Little Old Lady Comedy, Potato Soup Journal, Robot Butt Magazine, R U Joking? magazine, and Bookends Review, and the Evening Street Press and Review. He is currently serving a five-year prison sentence for plagiarism.
WHY WE CHOSE TO PUBLISH “Stevie Puts the Fun Back in Funeral”:
We love good humorous pieces when we can find them, and this is a neatly wrapped-up one. Author George Beckerman gave us a flash fiction piece with an amusing concept, the perfect amount of humor, and a great twist ending. And we really loved the term “pseudocide.”