This is the sixth part of a fiction serial, in 881 words.
As I had told Fiona, I presumed she would have informed everyone at work, so they would know about what happened to Eve. But it hadn’t gone unnoticed that nobody had phoned me to offer condolences. So I decided to shake the wasp’s nest. I rang the law firm and asked to speak to Julian Tolliver. The woman told me he was very busy, but when I said I was Eve’s husband, she asked me to hold for a moment. He sounded edgy when he came on the phone.
“Daniel, what can I say? So tragic. We are all in shock here. Eve was such a lovely young woman, and so good at her job. Popular in the office too. Is there anything we can do to help you?”
My first thought was to tell him he could help by calling me Danny. But I let that go, and said I would let him know about the funeral arrangements in due course.
After two weeks I was thinking about going back to work, when the police rang to say that they could release Eve’s body for a funeral, and the inquest would come later. I guessed that meant it was going to be considered an accident, at least by the police. If the Coroner came to the same conclusion, I would be home and dry.
A local undertaker sorted me out a basic cremation with a rent-a-vicar. A hearse, plus two cars for mourners. I told them I would only need one car. Eve’s granny had suffered a stroke after my visit, no doubt a delayed reaction to the news. She was doing okay, but not fit to attend a funeral. My dad didn’t speak to me, and my mum was dead. As for Eve’s friends, and Julian, they could make their own way there.
The hospital’s patient’s affairs department provided me with some paperwork that I could take to the Council offices to get a death certificate. They also gave me a clear plastic sleeve containing Eve’s personal effects. Wedding ring, engagement ring, two gold hoop earrings, a gold bracelet and matching necklace. At the Council offices, I paid extra for more certificates. Then I would have spares to send to the insurance company, and to give the bank. I decided to take the rest of the time off until the funeral.
There was a lot of running around to do.
I chose two different charity shops for all of Eve’s stuff, and they were very pleased to receive the good quality clothes and shoes. The meeting in the bank took almost an hour, but they closed her account and stopped her cards. I declined their offer of a cup of tea, but still had to listen to their businesslike and totaly insincere condolences. With my darkest suit dropped off at the dry cleaner’s, I popped into work to let Tony know. He was a bit flustered, and when I asked him if he wanted to come to the funeral, he got even more flustered.
“Too busy here my friend. With you away, I couldn’t possibly take time off. But I hope it all goes well. Take as much time as you need”. I could tell by the look on his face that he was already regretting saying that.
On the way home, I bought a black tie.
As funerals go, it was a good one. Julian looked so uncomfortable, I had to suppress a smile. The female friends all boo-hooded a lot, but none of them spoiled their perfect make-up. From the time we walked into the crematorium until I was heading home in the funeral car, it was all over in thirty minutes. Some of them asked me where we would be going on to. I told everyone I was too upset to have any sort of food and drink wake. Like I was going to waste money on that lot.
Not long after I went back to work, much to Tony’s relief, I got a call from one of the cops about the inquest. “Don’t worry, Daniel. It’s a foregone conclusion mate”. I wore a nice suit and sat in the small courtroom looking suitably sad. It was a lady Coroner, and she was very kind. Speaking softly, she went through all the witnesses, checking the papers on her desk, asking them questions, and nodding sagely.
She called the ambulance crew, the uniformed cops, and the detective woman with the snake eyes. There was the first doctor, the woman one, followed by the distinguished-looking man, and then a pathologist who outlined the injuries and cause of death. She didn’t bother to call the taxi driver I had sent away. At the end, she asked if I had any questions, and I said “No madam” in a clear voice.
There was no need to even break for lunch. She ruled ‘Accidental Death’ before midday, and that was that.