back of it on the bottom of the 1,000 pound cement vault, hovering just above me. With a yelp, I dropped the casket lid with a loud crash and rubbed my head. Glancing up, I found the vault lid staunchly hanging in place. I had hit the lid hard enough to give myself an instantaneous goose egg, but hadn’t even budged it. With a grimace, I considered what would happen if one day the reinforced strap, holding it up, broke. Not only would I get flattened like a piece of paper, but my secret would leak out, like so much blood. At least I would be dead, rather than caught, I thought.
Shaking off my injury, I seized the casket lid once more and pulled it open, this time careful to keep my head down. Glancing at the body, I muffled a scream and slammed the lid down, not caring about the noise.
Dazed and confused, I considered what had happened. Possibly, I’d received a concussion from the head injury. Last time I had seen Mr. Bennett was at the viewing the night before where he had worn a respectable suit, a gold watch and a designer tie. Deciding the watch and tie worth the possible disgust, I took a chance and opened the casket once more.
Nope. He was naked. I slammed the lid down and scrambled out of the grave, feeling not only guilty, but dirty. Robbing people in their coffin was one thing. Peering at them in the all-together was quite another. I certainly wouldn’t want someone busting in on me when I was nude. Having Corbin in my apartment while I slept was quite enough.
“Sorry.” I apologized pointlessly and climbed back into the backhoe, reversing my intrusion as quickly as I could. “My mistake.”
When I got back to the funeral home office, I dug around in the file cabinet, pulling out Mr. Bennett’s funeral plans. At the bottom a hand written note took up the margin, specifying that the deceased wanted interment in the nude. I also noticed that the billing address was a skin farm up in the eastern mountains. Well, I thought, he’s the first nudist I’ve ever met, and hopefully the last.
In which Professor Cade feels uncomfortable.
The next morning I went to the mall as soon as it opened, forgoing sleep for a quick solution to my laptop issue. I still had visions of naked Mr. Bennett in my head anyway. The last thing I wanted was for the memory to transfer itself into my dreams. I really didn’t want to see a Martins-Bennett amalgam in my REM cycle.
Katie was on shift at PJ’s PCs, much as I had expected.
“Hey!” I walked up to the check-out counter where she stuffed money in the drawer.
“Hi. What’s up?”
“My computer broke!” I said, dropping it on the counter.
She looked at it hesitantly and narrowed her eyes. “What did you do to it?”
“I didn’t do anything to it!”
Shutting the cash drawer she picked up the laptop and looked it over. “It doesn’t look like it got dropped or anything.”
“It hasn’t.” Quickly I described what it did and she nodded. “Sounds like trouble with the hard drive. I’ll see what I can do. Do you still have your old model?”
“Yeah, but all my homework and stuff got saved on here.”
“Don’t you back it up?”
“Back it up?!”
She frowned and shook her head. “Relax. I’ll see what I can extract from the hard drive. But you need to start backing up your work.”
“Fine. Whatever. How long will it take?”
“Give me your number. I’ll call you once I’ve got something. And write down your email address. I’ll see if I can send you whatever I pull off the hard drive.”
I gave her my information and slunk out of the store. With irritation I wandered the mall, too worked up to go home and go to bed. I walked the stores for an hour or so, finding nothing of interest, then came out of the mall. The sky had turned a wretched shade of gray and a layer of fog surrounded everything.
Jamestown was a large city by my standards, but only a medium sized metropolis in comparison to the other