The Ferryman

A while back I saw a flash
fiction contest that I wanted to enter. Unfortunately, I missed the deadline to enter, but I wrote the story anyway.
The story is about an undertaker at sunrise. I call it "The Ferryman". Here goes.

A gray figure trying to blend into the darkness walked along the city street. the pre dawn air was cool. he walked quickly hoping not to be noticed by anyone, this was his time.
he was distraught. he couldn't stop thinking of the twins.Girls, they had just turned ten.  he couldn't shake the look of their swollen bruised little bodies. the car crash had taken its toll.
In the ER their mother was sobbing, inconsolable. their father sat like a bump on a log in the waiting room in waiting. his injuries were minor, but they say that is that happens when one has been drinking.
He and his father had been there, and his brother Norm. The had taken possession of the girls bodies,  and promised the most delicate of care. They were the undertakers.
He had known the father from college, what a pompous ass, Neil Feldman, but that those memories had been tucked away. He hadn't thought about Neil since he left school.

Seeing Neil brought him back to his college days How Neil had tortured him, teased him about studying to be an undertaker. How morbid how sick, Neil and his friends would scoff. Everyone else in his biology was was studying to be something else, doctors, pharmacists, nurses. he had just ignored them, even though it did hurt. he couldn't help it if they couldn't figure him out.  he was a bit of a  dark soul, but he was no ghoul. he liked having an air of mystery.

yes He was studying to be and undertaker, like his brother before him, and his father and grandfather  before him. When the students went into the biology lab to work with, and practice on the  cadavers, they teased him called him a ghoul and even a vampire a vampire? that reference he didn't understand.

He guessed this is what he would always do. He would sneak into the embalming room as a child and watch as his father would prepare the dead for viewing.  In the office were replicas of some canopic jars, a copy of "Grays Anatomy" and a small statue of Kali. He presumed his family were the caretakers of the dead. After all it had been the family business for generations. In school he had felt a connection to Charon, the ferryman that ferried souls across the Styx.

Bodies didn't bother him, the embalming process, and the rebuilding, sculpting and painting of the  body to make it presentable viewing didn't bother him, just the opposite. after twelve years he still found his work fascinating. this time however was different. Maybe because they were so young? He usually prepared them when they were older, nat the end of many long years, not near the beginning. He wept.
no, Neil might have been an ass, maybe even the cause of his daughters deaths, but that was not his concern now. He stood shivering in the morning air. There was a cold wind coming off the water when he walked into the park, Hw wrapped tighter in his coat.

The sky was starting to lighten, it was now pearl and soft pink. He sat there on his favorite bench trying to think and clear his head.  He was a dark figure, quiet, dark tall and thin, Norm was the outgoing one, he was the one one who would meet with the grieved. norm always knew what to say, and how to handle the living. he was the artist below stairs. the lab was his.

He and Norm had worked long and hard though the night to prepare the girls for tomorrows funeral. there was lot to do, embalm them, wash and dress them, and paint their faces so that they didn't look broken and bruised. They added bits to make their faces not look so broken. they were like fragile china dolls. but still just girls never knowing more of this world. maybe that was what bothered him. the loss of innocence. the brutal and violent way they died.
The light was changing again, more pinks, and a blush of salmon, the air was getting a little warmer.
He had put Neil and his cohorts away years ago. he hadn't thought about them since college, yet, there he was, and his grieving wife. He guessed she was pretty despite her tears and her swollen face. Neil smirked when their eyes met, "figures we would meet here" he said, as he sighed then signed  release for the funeral home. Norm raised an eye brow but said nothing.
He looked out the water of the river was blushing to match the sky. he took a deep breath, letting the damp air fill his lungs, sometimes the the lab where he worked was too cold and bright. He loved walking here after he had finished preparing a body.
The job was hard when the deceased were children. Norm would be home by now having a drink and getting ready for bed.
but he thought honestly he did like what he did. And he would put his feelings aside when he was working. he watched the sky turn red crimson and orange then lighter and lighter.
He watched as  the sun  looking like a large red ball had peered above the horizon,It was light now, he turned and started his stroll home, The day had broken wide open, and so had he.
Neil would probably be facing charges for vehicular homicide or DUI or something and his wife, who knows if she would recover from her loss, but that wasn't his. He had done his job, he prepare the girls, dressed them combed their hair, painted  their lips like china dolls  and placed tokens in their mouths for their lonely ride across the river Styx.