Marvin cringed as the car dove into potholes in the barely-passable road, its frame creaking with each challenge. He stared out the window, watching the countryside lurch by.
That very morning he had attended his mother's funeral. He tried to remember the details of how he got here.
"You know I don't have the money," Marvin's father had snapped at the undertaker as they sat in the undertaker's office. "What am I supposed to do?"
The undertaker smiled impatiently at Marvin's father. "What do you expect me to do, sir? Your wife is buried in the earth now. Would you prefer I dug her up and returned her to you?"
Marvin listened, staring at the floor and swinging his legs as he sat in a chair too tall for him. He listened to them arguing over the cost of the funeral, which was unexpectedly expensive.
Marvin's father looked down too. He offered meekly, "No." He paused for a few moments of uncomfortable silence, and asked with resignation, "So what do we do?"
The undertaker regarded Marvin with cold eyes. "Well, there are options."
He leaned forward. "Has the boy an apprenticeship yet?"
Marvin looked aghast.
His father brightened a little with the realization and looked slowly over at his son. "Well, no...."
The undertaker moved in for the kill. "And you'd be carin' for him alone now, isn't that right?"
His father leaned over and spoke quietly. "He's got a point, Marvin. You ain't got an apprenticeship yet, and you need one. What do you think?"
Marvin just stared at his father; there was nothing he could say to get out of it now; the deal was done.
Marvin's father left and then returned with some of Marvin's things in a small suitcase. He kissed his son on the forehead and then he was gone.
The undertaker didn't show Marvin his accommodations; instead he closed his office door and made some phone calls. Shortly a car showed up, and the undertaker bade Marvin off, smiling broadly as the driver handed him a fat envelope.
Written, illustrated and Copyright © 2001 by Kevin Kelm