CAST: Jerry Blatz – Fifty-five
Alden Primrose – Effete, pretentious director of Primrose Path Funeral Home
SETTING: Jerry Blatz walks into the door of an office in the Primrose Path Funeral Home. A well-dressed man at a desk stands to greet him and holds out his hand. Blatz takes it and shakes.
Primrose: Welcome to Primrose Path Funeral Home. You must be Mr. Blatz. We are so sorry regarding your loss. I am the proprietor, Alden Primrose. I sincerely hope that we are able to assist you in giving your dearly departed mother the passage that she and your family deserve. Please, sit down, Mr. Blatz.
Blatz: Yeah, thanks. (sitting) Call me Jerry. Jeez, you sure got a lot of velvet in here.
Primrose: I trust that is not a problem, Mr. Blatz.
Blatz: Oh, no, no. My business is disaster recovery, you know, like remediation after storms or leaks. The last thing you’d want with all this velvet would be a flood or a leak.
Primrose: (looking around) Quite so. Um, can you tell me what you had in mind for your mother’s final memorial? We have many options available.
Blatz: Options, huh? Would it be possible to ballpark what these options might cost?
Primrose: While we have a wide range of options available, the typical range for an interment with casket, viewing, transportation, et cetera, would typically be in the seven to twelve thousand dollar range, although we also have additional optional services that could bring the cost somewhat higher.
Blatz: Higher? You mean like burial in a pyramid? Cost might be kind of an issue here. My mother was on a fixed income and died pretty much broke.
Primrose: Of course, we here at Primrose Path feel that no price is too great for the heartfelt send-off of a loved one, but we also may have some wiggle room, if you will.
Blatz: Oh, I most definitely will. You see, my mother and me, well, we weren’t all that close.
Primrose: One option, Mr. Blatz, er, Jerry, would be cremation rather than interment. That would eliminate the need for the gravesite, the cost of excavation, the transportation to the cemetery, and of course, the headstone. Does you late mother already have a plot, possibly next to family or a husband?
Blatz: No, there’s no plot. My father ran off years ago. It’s just my sister.
Primrose: In a family plot?
Blatz: Huh? No, my sister is still alive. She lives out of town, but she’s gonna want a big show for her friends still in the neighborhood. She’s not as bad as my mother, but I’d still have to listen to her.
Primrose: You are so fortunate to have had the opportunity to honor your dear mother’s final wish, to be cremated and to have her ashes spread over her favorite place.
Blatz: What? That wasn’t her final wish.
Primrose: I’m not sure that you are hearing me, Jerry. You did say that your sister lives out of town. You might try mentioning to her, “I was so fortunate to have had the opportunity to honor our dear mother’s final wish, to be cremated and to have her ashes spread…” (he waves his hand indicating yada, yada)
Blatz: Oh, yeah, I get it. Hey, you’re pretty sharp. But where is her favorite place?
Primrose: (with mild exasperation) Is it possible that your dear mother liked the beach?
Blatz: (thinking) Yeah, yeah, the beach. That might work.
Primrose: Very good. The ballpark, as you say, for a cremation, with appropriate digninty, meeting your sister’s expectations would probably be in the four thousand dollar range. We do, of course have several payment plans at a very competitive interest rate.
Blatz: Four thousand, wow. But you’re getting’ warmer, Primrose. What does that include?
Primrose: (surprised) Well, Jerry, we are down to the cost of the space, and the fee for the service. These are, fixed costs and are non-negotiable. Of course the embalming is fixed as well.
Blatz: Embalming. How much is that?
Primrose: Our technicians are experts in their field and take the utmost care in making your dearly departed loved one look as—
Blatz: (waving him to stop) How much?
Primrose: Five hundred. But, your sister—
Blatz: Mom was a drinker and the years have not been kind. What about a closed casket?
Primrose: (sighs) We at Primrose Path value the wishes of our clientele. A closed casket is not customary, but can be provided. There will still be a two-hundred dollar embalming fee.
Blatz: Jeez, what’s that for if no one’s gonna see her?
Primrose: When exactly did your mother pass?
Primrose: And when would you like to have the service?
Blatz: Let’s see. This is Wednesday. How about Saturday afternoon and evening? Yeah, one day, in and out. So why the two-hundred if no one will see her?
Primrose: (overtly touching his nose) I am assuming that your guests, particularly your sister have senses other than their eyesight.
Blatz: Oh, yeah. I get it. Okay, so where does the cremation take place? I guess I’m looking at a hearse.
Primrose: Oh, no, Jerry. Our crematory is right here on site in the back of the building.
Blatz: Really, I never noticed. Who’da thunk it, right here in the middle of town?
Primrose: (getting annoyed) Yes, we are thankful every day for the Burger King two blocks upwind from here. (hands him a brochure) Here are the lovely caskets that we offer. I’m sure you will want something special for your dear mother’s final resting place…and of course, for your sister.
Blatz: Holy Crap! Two grand, two-and a half, thirty-two hundred? Primrose, there’s got to be another way. Whaddya got for five hundred?
Primrose: (sputtering) Five hundred? Dollars? Mr. Blatz, a simple pine box goes for seven-fifty.
Blatz: Come on, Primrose. There must be some damaged merchandise in the back room, maybe a floor model or something? We’re both businessmen, here.
Primrose: (dumbstruck) Sir, what you are suggesting—
Blatz: I can pay in cash.
Primrose: Cash? Come with me. (He stands and leads Blatz to a door behind his desk. It opens to the crematory.) (dropping the vocal affectation) Here. Our best model. Twelve hundred, out the door.
Blatz: Hey, this looks a little singed. Is this thing used? And what happened to the voice, Primrose?
Primrose: It ain’t Primrose. It’s Murray Moskowitz. Some jerk bought the top of the line and his check bounced. I had my guys pull this just before the fire got hot. I figured I might recoup some of my collection fees. You want it or not?
Blatz: I assume you’ll clean it up.
Primrose: It’ll look like new. No charge.
Blatz: Wait, how do I know you won’t dump my mother in the fire and just use it again?
Primrose: Seriously? What do you care? You wanna take it home with you after the service? I’ll burn it, I promise, okay? We’re at twenty-two hundred, cash.
Blatz: (thinking) Okay, We have a deal. (They shake hands.) Murray, you drive a hard bargain. Say, how do I get her here from the morgue?
Primrose: We pick her up…unless you want to deliver her yourself in that Lincoln Navigator you drove up here in. I can knock off fifty bucks.
Blatz: Nah. You do it. Nothing’s too good for my mother.
(Both laugh as Blatz pulls an envelope out of his pocket and starts to count out the money)