Genre:  Thriller  Caution: Upsetting Content

Desdemona searched “Modern Day Embalming Practices.” She spent ages pouring through the information until she was quite confident with what had to be done.

‘Popping out honey’ she said over her shoulder to Dave. She left her husband of 35 years in his easy chair. Cheating, lying bastard. She smiled to herself as she headed off to the store, humming in a not entirely sane manner.

At the store her list comprised of:

Several large rolls of white plastic.


Glue and wire.

Fishing gut.

Several bowls and a scalpel.

A wheelchair.

Glutaraldehyde she had ordered online and waited for it to arrive before getting the rest of her “stock”.

Methanol and ethanol were harder to find as it wasn’t sold to the public locally. You can buy anything online nowadays, she smiled.

And finally some makeup and a razor. Phew!

‘What a morning Dessy’ she said. The humming resumed as she worked her way home and locked her possessions in the shed. Dave was still sitting in the same spot, imprinting his ass into the chair as usual. He had been bordered 2 years earlier and hadn’t bothered to find anything else to do. Even gardening was a chore for him.

She popped a chicken into the pressure cooker, started the potatoes and poured Dave a beer and herself a chilled Chenin Blanc. Joining him she sat down and sipped her wine, heaven.

‘So what are you up to tomorrow?’ Dessy said. Dave sipped his beer, belched and grunted out that he had no plans.

‘Oh so the usual then’ she said. He glanced at the bright smile on her face and wondered what he had done now.

‘Where were you?’ he said.

‘I bought the stuff for my new hobby.’

‘What is it this time?’

‘You’ll see.’ She sat sipping her wine and smiling until getting up to finish dinner. They ate in silence. Dave shocked her by thanking her for dinner, then hit himself in the chest and burped. She hated it, burping was utterly bad mannered, despite what “Shrek” says. She packed his plate in the sink, turned her back to him and sipped her wine.

Sunday mornings she went to church, no matter what. She had stopped inviting him years ago. A few weeks ago she had stopped praying for him too, when she arrived home early due to a headache and couldn’t find him. Dessy checked the garage, his car was there, worry tickled at her senses, where was he? She wandered across to her neighbor to ask if she had seen him.  Mrs Denning was a widow and attractive. Dessy would never invite her over as a single woman but Dave was friendly with her.

Hearing a groan, she kicked off her shoes and crept up to the bedroom window, the curtain was open just a crack. Shocked she realized that what she could see was a naked ass,  that she recognized moving up and down on the bed. Mrs Denning’s rapturous face stared up at Dave. “Son of a ….” She couldn’t finish, having just come from church.

Dessy went home, had a shower and decided what to do about Dave.

Her father had owned “Cummings Funeral Home” for 5 decades before he died washing old Mother Jones’s emaciated corpse. They found him face down in disinfectant, grey and dead after a massive heart attack. Dessy had no desire to continue the family business so she sold it for a pretty profit and her and Dave bought the house.

Years later and she thought about his bucking ass showing through the window. It made her furious. She made tea and got back into bed. When Dave got home he was surprised to see her back early. He gave some mumbled excuse about going for a walk – A WALK! – and deposited his cheating butt into his chair.

Dessy didn’t get up to make lunch and heard him moving around the kitchen, clattering plates and cutlery. She was hungry too and waited but of course Dave just made himself something to eat which infuriated the hell out of her. It was the last straw and her revenge started to take shape.

Finally driven downstairs by her hunger she fried eggs and sausage which drew him into the kitchen. Dessy stared at the man she used to love, wondering how his bone-lazy ass could find the energy for a weekly romp. If it was weekly. He did nothing else, she couldn’t remember the last time they had sex. Obviously, he didn’t need to with her. They ate in silence and Dessy made her plans.

How to get rid of the body? What would she tell people happened to Dave? She pondered on various solutions for a long while. She didn’t want to be alone but wouldn’t live with a cheat. Was he entitled to half the house? It’s in her name but she had paid for it. ‘I’ll see it burned to the ground before I give him half’ she decided.

It suddenly hit her. An embalmed Dave behind a lace curtain would still look like Dave, people would think he was alive. Excited she turned the plan over and over in her mind. It was flawless. She knew how to embalm after watching her father for countless hours. Too many heart pills in his cereal would do the trick. No violence, no fighting. Perfect! It would work.

She put her plans in place, researching, ordering and going over and over it to ensure nothing got left to chance. Dave was fat, not particularly tall but stout. She would have to embalm him in the front room and get him into a sitting position in the wheelchair. Dessy was determined to get it right.

Saturday morning arrived cool and grey, much to Dessy’s relief. A body decomposes so quickly in the heat. Humming away, she got up, popped a handful of Dave’s pills into her pocket and went to make sweet oats. Crushing the tablets, she stirred them into his oats with a good spoon of sugar. Sipping her coffee as he ate, she watched every bit go in. She didn’t make as much as she usually did, she knew she would be scraping it out of his stomach later.

They finished breakfast and coffee and Dave poured himself into his favorite chair putting the game on. Dessy watched, waiting. It started slowly enough, he kept rubbing his chest and yawned several times.

‘I’m so sleepy.’ He said. ‘I think I’ll go back to bed.’ No bloody way!

You’ll miss the end of the game’ Dessy said brightly. ‘More coffee?’ he nodded.  Banking on his laziness paid off she thought to herself. Nearly an hour and a half later he dropped off. She waited until his breathing became labored, poured herself a glass of ice water and started to prepare.

Dessy cleared her dining table and covered it and the surrounding floor with plastic. She brought the outside table in and put all her instruments and chemicals out in the order that she would use them. She realized she could no longer hear Dave. He was dead. All those wasted years. A single tear worked its way down her cheek and she wiped it away.

‘No time for that now Dessy, you have to grow a pair.’

Grunting and groaning she got him into the wheelchair. ‘He’s still warm’ she thought. Getting him onto the table was more of a challenge and she nearly dropped him. Only the fear of not being able to pick him up off the floor made her find the strength. The table complained under his weight. It’s time.

Dessy opened all the windows and closed the curtains. Putting on some music she secured her mask in place. Concentration furrowed her forehead and she tackled the task with relish.

She undressed Dave, not surprised to see that he had the same underpants on as the day before. Washing the body was heavy going but it had to be done, the disinfectant burned her nose and Dessy was glad she was wearing gloves. Massaging his limbs to relieve stiffening of the joints and muscles, she felt a little sad that this would be the last time she touched him. She was going to shave him but realized that he would then always look clean shaven and he wasn’t.

His eyes were a challenge. They had to be open otherwise it would look like he was always sleeping. She discarded the glue and used the fishing gut, stitched to his eyebrows to open and close them, as she pulled or released the gut. It wasn’t perfect but it would do from a distance behind a net curtain.

The lower jaw was tricky and Dessy stopped to have a cooldrink while she contemplated how to do this. It was usually secured with wires or sewing so that it could be manipulated. She decided on wires, the jaw didn’t need to move, the mouth did. She sewed the lips with gut and watched him smile and not, smile and not for a while, finding it funny.

Dessy ate a light lunch knowing that she was heading into the surgical and hardest part of the embalming. Picking up her scalpel she cut the strategic veins in his body using the bowls she had bought to catch the blood and fluids. Gross! She felt her lunch moving around in her stomach but luckily it stayed down. For some reason the bowl on his left leg filled quicker and she had to replace it with an empty one mid-procedure. Shaking, she spilled some blood on her way to the toilet. It was probably a good idea to get rid of it quickly before it coagulated, which she did. She cleaned the floor and managed to get rid of the rest without incident.

Her shoulders were starting to ache with the effort and stress but she couldn’t stop half way. Dessy replaced the blood with a solution of formaldehyde-based chemicals mixed with glutaraldehyde, methanol, ethanol, phenol and water, it was easier than she had imagined and she finished quickly.

She neared the end and her shoulders and arms were shaking from the effort. Making a small incision in Dave’s abdomen she inserted a trocar into the body cavity. Dessy then punctured the organs and drained them of the gas and fluid contents, unhappily seeing Dave’s semi-digested breakfast again. She then injected more formaldehyde-based chemicals and stitched up the incision.

Done. Exhaustion took over her body.

She covered Dave with a sheet, stripped off the gloves and protective apron and climbed the Kilimanjaro stairs to her room. Within minutes she slept. Darkness came when something woke her, she reluctantly rose from a deep, dreamless sleep. She lay there for a minute not quite believing that the doorbell had rung.

The doorbell…

Who could it possibly be? Could they smell the chemicals? She shot out of bed and downstairs. Seeing a shape in the glass, she steeled herself, flattened her hair and opened the door. It was Mrs Denning. Dessy’s mouth turned “O” in shock.

‘Hi Dessy, is Dave in?’ Dessy stared at her, several thoughts racing around her head. The bitch knew her name. She had the audacity to come to her door. Dave’s dead, his body not 6 feet away!

‘No Mrs Denning, he’s gone’ she said without a trace of hesitation. ‘Is something wrong?’

‘My geyser has burst and I can’t turn the mains off. Its pouring in…’

‘I’ll help’ she decided closing the door behind her. It’s easier to sort it out herself than to try and explain when Dave would be home. Dessy found the mains and turned them off. She turned to face the woman who was instrumental in creating her new hobby.

She looked older than Dessy remembered, maybe the worry of the water damage caused it.

‘Come on Mrs Denning’ Dessy said. ‘Let’s go see the damage.’

It wasn’t bad and Dessy helped her drain the water out using buckets and mops, all the while watching this woman who had the audacity to screw her husband. They called a plumber who promised to be around that evening with a new geyser, not bad service for a Saturday.

‘Please stay and have some tea. And call me Mandy, Mrs Denning is so formal.

Dessy was at a loss. This woman seemed so kind that she struggled to hate her. They were drinking tea and munching on fresh banana bread when Mandy dropped a bombshell.

‘So where did you and Dave grow up?’ Strange question.

‘Well I grew up here but Dave and his family grew up at the coast.’ Confused Mandy asked ‘So your parents weren’t together then? Did you and Dave have other brothers and sisters?’ Realization hit, she thought Dave and she were siblings.

Dave you son of a bitch! She could think it – it wasn’t Sunday.

Denny picked up her tea and avoided Mandy’s eyes. What could she say? She shoved a large piece of banana bread into her mouth to avoid answering.

‘You know I have a roast in the oven – sorry I have to go.’ Mandy nodded, stood and gave Denny a quick hug.

‘Thank you for helping me, I’m sure I will come right. Maybe you and Dave can come and have dinner with me one night?’ Denny smiled, ‘that would be lovely.’

She left wondering how she would get around that one. Fear and fury crept in and she was almost running by the time she got home.

There he lay, under the sheet unable to comprehend the anger and hurt that he had caused. Denny walked up, ripped the sheet off him and hit him in the chest. Staring at his face, she realized that her love for him was gone. An empty shell of what it once was. She finished up, dressing him in the same clothes. He can sit in dirty underpants for the rest of time, she thought. She finished by making up his face and seating him in the wheelchair. Strange how much lighter he was now.

Denny sat in her chair and burst into tears. She cried for all the years, for hating Mandy without cause and for his deceit. Her soul healed with each tear, not quite perfect but enough that she looked forward to the future. She decided that the lounge was too good for him and waited until it was dark to wheel him in to the shed. She locked the door, went upstairs showered and climbed into bed.

Tomorrow she would go and see Mandy – maybe they could have dinner together.

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About the Author

Writer, Mother, Grandmother and Wife.

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