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ROLAND METZ is the Director of the Cedar Lawn Mortuary and Cemetery. He’s a recluse, fussing over his cadavers getting the hairdo just right, buffing the fingernails, shaving the stubble, arranging the hands as if in prayer before the bereaved ones get a look at Uncle Charlie or Grandma laid out like a fireplace log in the satin-lined casket.


Roland takes great pride in making his clients appear in peaceful slumber as they are about to journey into the Great Unknown. He provides solace and closure to families who clasp his cadaveric hands and whisper their gratitude for the beautiful service. When they leave, the deceased left behind become Roland’s master works to admire, to preserve until he has acted out his fantasies. It is a private world he owns with no intrusion until his macabre life is interrupted by an ambitious lawyer who stumbles upon a victim’s grave, falls in love with a “ghost” and begins to unravel the darker side of Mr. Metz.




    She wished she hadn’t stayed. The word “creepy” hovered on the tip of her tongue while she looked around the room. What kind of a geek would want to live in a funeral parlor with a coffin resting only a few steps away from the living room? And God only knows what was in the basement, but she’d bet it wasn’t pretty. Jeez, how could this guy sleep here at night?

    He handed her a glass of Chablis when she perched on the edge of the sofa. She didn’t even want the wine, but she had been raised to be polite, and she might as well get the social stuff out of the way, sign the papers and get the hell out of this dumpy dungeon. Afterwards. She’d stop at the Marriott, have a pina colada and forget all about death, dying and funerals. Her boyfriend tended bar at the Hotel on Broadway, and when she perched on a stool to watch him mix exotic drinks, she conjured up tropical isles and Mediterranean shoes dotted with super yachts. No way was she going to let her thoughts from this slasher flick linger once she was out the door and back into the sunshine.

    “You have such pretty hair.” His words slithered between lips with a faint lisp that made her stifle a shudder. Gawd, what a weirdo. This guy could make a fortune crawling out of closets and eating bugs in a horror film. Grade B. In black and white. This place was like a museum like she imagined somewhere in Transylvania. An homage to a vampire dude. Furniture looked like it came straight out of a Hollywood set for Phantom of the Opera maybe.

    Checking her watch, she started to stand up when he caught her arm. His fingers were ice cold. “Don’t bother to get up. Why don’t you finish your wine while I find your grandfather’s file? I’m sorry if I’ve kept you too long.”

    Before she could answer, he handed her glass back and disappeared behind a velvet curtain. She heard him shuffling papers, opening drawers. Finally, he was getting his shit together so she could dump this freak show. Boy, did she have something to tell her boyfriend when she got home. What a weirdo. Just what she thought morticians or undertakers must be like. Imagined anyway since was the first time she’d ever set foot in a mortuary. Hopefully, the last time too.

    He returned after a few minutes with a manila file in one hand and the Chablis bottle in the other. “Shall we toast your future then?” He poured himself a glass and raised it to his lip all the while his stare was riveted to hers.

    What the hell she was thinking as she took her glass and sipped. Wine wasn’t bad. Better than the boxed shit she and her boyfriend could afford.

    He sat across from her as she studied the papers he asked her to sign. Details for her grandfather’s funeral. When she tried to grasp the pen he handed her, her hands trembled. Her vision blurred, and the text became inscrutable. Wow! This was powerful shit she was drinking.

    After a minute more, he took hold of her shoulders as her body sagged into the cushions, and her eyes closed. He caught her glass just before it fell. Her brain whirled in a desperate attempt to reclaim sanity and then began to close down, slipping into semi consciousness.

    “Ohhh. . . .” Her moan bubbled from her throat when he lifted her easily from the sofa and carried his trophy through the doorway and up the stairs. When she tried to open her eyes for the last time, all she saw was a plastered ceiling lit with a beautiful pink chandelier. “Is this the last thing I’ll ever see on Earth?”

    With a final sigh, she slipped into deep chasm of darkness and merciful calm knowing she was his prey, and there would be no escape.

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