"You want fries with that?"

Kelly, a guy I once worked for, put himself through school by working as an undertaker in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. One of his charges turned out to be a fast food junkie.

Living at the funeral home, one of the things Kelly dealt with where the middle-of-the-night calls to come pick up a new customer. People often seem to have no consideration about when they drop dead. Of course, planning ahead by scheduling the event is rather frowned upon by the three major desert religions.

The call came in, as they always do, at oh-dark-thirty. One of the folks over at the state’s home for the bewildered had just become the dearly departed. The body was already on a gurney and had been released by the attending physician when Kelly got there with the hearse. A night attendant helped load the gurney in the back of the vehicle and Kelly headed back to the funeral home. All Kelly had to do was roll the gurney into the cold storage room in the home’s basement, lock up, and he could go back to bed.

Kelly told me he still says a prayer of thanks from time to time when he thinks of it that he had been caught by a stop light. As he sat there waiting for it to turn, he suddenly felt a hand on his shoulder and a child-like voice asked, “Could we stop for some fries?”

He whirled around and found himself eyeball to eyeball with the customer. Rather distractedly, Kelly said, “Pardon?”

The customer smiled gently and repeated, “Could we stop for some fries?”

Kelly said that by this time the world had dropped back into position and he explained to his new friend, Bill as it turned out, that it was pretty late and everything was closed. Bill seemed saddened by this so Kelly assured him that he, Kelly, would tell the folks at the institution of his request when they got back there. This seemed to satisfy Bill and he lay back down. On the drive back, Kelly discovered that Bill snored.

Kelly pulled up to the ambulance entrance and tooted the horn. The same attendant who had helped him before came out and walked up Kelly’s door. Curious, he asked, “What are you doing back here?”

Kelly replied, “I’m afraid this one ain’t done yet.”


At that moment, Kelly said, he was treated to one of the finest displays of the double-take as Bill raised up from the gurney and waved to the attendant with a happy, “Hi, Tommy.”

An hour later, Kelly was perusing an ancient copy of Field & Stream in a waiting room when Tommy walked in pulling on a jacket. The attendant told him, “You can head home, the doctor looked Bill over and says he’s fine.”

Kelly asked, “The same one who said he was dead?”

Tommy half smiled. “Hmm, on second thought, maybe you better hang around a while. Anyway, the boss says for the home to send a bill for your trouble.”

As they walked out to the parking lot, Kelly remarked, “I ‘spect you’ll be happy to get home.”

“Oh, I’m not going home. I’m headed out to one of the truck stops on Route 11.”


Tommy grinned, “We figure with what happened tonight, we owe Bill some French fries.”

23 April 2010: Feast of St. George. Battle of Clontarf 1014, Ottoman Empire of Sultan Mehmend VI falls 1920, King George II of Greece evacuates Athens ahead of Wehrmacht 1941, New Coke premiered to general distaste of humanity 1985.

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