One beautiful summer’s day we arrived at these premises to make a delivery. Maybe it was the good weather, or maybe it was just that I was feeling a little sanguine …
…. about life in general, but the upshot was that I decided that I would try to hold a conversation with this lad, to offer the proverbial olive branch so as to speak.
I stacked my cases of Guinness in their usual place against the wall and turned to face my sworn enemy. He was standing at the coffin that he had previously been working with prior to my arrival. His little transistor radio was playing in the background and he was blowing perfunctory smoke rings in my direction.
‘Well how are things?’ I began.
There was no reply from the young man so I tried again, cracking the usual joke that we always said to old Hugh McCrink, who was in a similar profession to this lad.
‘Have you any empty boxes that would fit me?’ I enquired.
After he had blown another smoke ring in my direction, and with a crafty smile on his face, the young man waved his hand majestically along the top of the coffin he was working on and replied,
‘Why don’t you try this one?’
I smelt a rat. I could sense that this guy was planning something nasty. It was written all over his face.
The coffin he referred to was the one that he had just been working on. He had been fitting a brass nameplate to it at the time that I interrupted his work. It sat on a low wooden trestle, almost fully complete with its lid propped up against the wall alongside. The lid was suspiciously close to the coffin and just perfectly positioned to slam shut.
But the gauntlet had been thrown down. This was a challenge now. I couldn’t lose face! Honour had to be upheld. So I accepted.
‘Ok’, said I, as I kicked off my footwear. ‘I’ll give it a try out’.
This guy had a little stool that he used in the course of his work. I used it as a step to get me up to the coffin and rather hesitantly I stepped into the box. Carefully I lay down full length inside the coffin. With one arm still outside the box to prevent him closing the lid on me I stretched out and tried to make some remark about it been comfortable indeed.
The young man looked down at me inside the coffin, and then he shook his head and said,
‘No! No! Not like that! Do the thing right! Put your hands like this’.
And so saying, he crossed his two hands on his chest to demonstrate how a corpse would be laid out in a coffin.
I complied with his request, and placed my hands across my chest as he had just demonstrated. At this point I was banking on my speed to keep me out of bother, but I was too slow in reacting. He was the faster.
Down went the lid with a bang! I was plunged into darkness. I felt him hop up to sit on the coffin lid and I was trapped.
….. 2 of 4 The Coffin …..