by Burt Yonik
Unfortunate loss at a cemetery.
|The newly arrived stranger muses how well kept and cordial the cemetery on the outskirts of the town appears. Stretching over a wide expanse, the freshly laid pavement separating the rows of headstones looks like an idea spot for an employee in need of a mental respite after a busy morning. Gazing through the rust free metal bars gating the cemetery from the sidewalk, the stranger envisions himself taking a seat upon a nearby grey memorial stone bench located in the shade of a heavily leaved late summer oak, perhaps nodding off to the sleepy rhythm of rustling foliage.
Approaching the corner, he extends his vision down the sidewalk lining the other edge of the cemetery. Halfway down the coolly shaded walkway, he notices a heavily stooped lady looking over the thick iron gate marking the entrance to the graveyard. As he draws closer, the elderly lady waves her hand in hopes of drawing his attention.
"Do you need anything, mam?"
"Young sir, would you help an old widow locate her daughter? She is somewhere in the cemetery. I am old and hobbled and feel it will take forever for me to find her."
A wave of sympathy floods across the stranger's face. One of the most unfortunate tragedies imaginable has befallen this poor elderly woman. Rather than press for more background as to how the widow's progeny met their untimely end, which would no doubt bring the frail woman to tears, he quickly inquires for a name.
With the name on his mind, he leads the elderly widow through the recently refurbished front gates. After twenty paces, it becomes evident the widow's slow stride will hinder the stranger's search. Glancing around, he locates a century old bench commemorating the life of a local near the entrance. He informs the lady he will cover more ground investigating himself. Fatigue and distress lighten off the widow's face as she readily agrees to rest, placing her wooden cane across her knees.
Although the cemetery covers many acres, the stranger feels confident he will locate the headstone bearing the daughter's name, the act of doing good blessing his focus and stride.
After browsing through a small grouping of headstones lined against the iron gating, the decides on crossing a small hilltop extending deeper into the graveyard.
His eyes open alert, his attention focused on a dark gray bench built under a copse of deciduous trees. Up the heavy gray lies the motionless body of a middle aged woman. Panic springs across his face as he considers his options. Perhaps he should inform the authorities of his morbid discovery? Or check the still body for vital signs? Defensively, his mind contemplates the worst scenario. What if the police suspect him of foul play being he located the corpse? Bracing his resolve, he quietly approaches the deathly still body.
Upon closer examination, the female's chest visibly rises and falls in a weak rhythm. The possibility of resuscitating the unconscious woman flashes across his mind as his face twists in concentration attempting to recollect the basics of CPR.
Closer he draws, his hand nervously stretched outwards towards the pale wrist lying across the woman's abdomen. Slowly, the left eye opens, then the right. Perturbed, the woman cries in terror at the intrusion. Drawn to full alert, due to the loud female scream, the stranger rapidly lifts both of his arms above his head in surrender in an effort to pacify the irate woman.
After two minutes of chaotic confusion, the stranger is able to assure the lady of his well meant intentions then leads the daughter back to the comfortably nestled elderly lady napping on the bench near the entrance.