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Grand Opening
by Michael A. Kechula

“Fed up with costly funerals?” asked Bert in his TV commercial. “Bring your loved ones to Bert’s Drive-Thru Cut-Rate Funeral Emporium where funerals are only $39.95. Come to our Grand Opening and see how corpses are processed through high-tech machines in our fully automated Funeral Emporium. The first fifty customers who bring a corpse will enjoy a free buffet lunch at our Happy Cadaver Restaurant. Save mega-dollars on your next funeral. Bring your loved ones to Bert’s Drive-Thru Cut-Rate Funeral Emporium.”

The commercial ended with Bert singing, “There’s no business like show business.”

Hundreds came to the grand opening. However, not a single corpse had arrived at the Drive-Thru. Visitors became restless when the show didn’t start on time.

Harry, the Sales Manager, announced over loudspeakers, “We’re sorry for the delay. Please check everyone in your vehicles to see if anybody’s about to expire.  The first person who brings a corpse to our Drive-Thru in the next ten minutes will receive $100 cash.”

”We got a dead body!” somebody yelled. “Granny slipped and banged her head real hard against a door handle. She ain’t got no pulse.”

“Wonderful,” said Harry. “Let’s hear it for Granny.”

The applause was deafening.

The bereaved carried Granny to the Drive-Thru. Harry called Bert to tell him the good news. Bert rushed from his office to the Drive-Thru. When he checked Granny, he discovered a faint heartbeat.

“Granny’s alive,” Harry announced. “We still need a corpse.”

Visitors booed and threw empty beer bottles.

Bert grabbed his cell phone and acted as if he’d just received a call. “Ladies and gentlemen, I was just notified that a body’s on the way. The show will start in 30 minutes. While you’re waiting, visit our snack stands for a free bag of popcorn.”

“We have an explosive situation here,” Bert told Harry. “Let’s go to my office where it’ll be safer.”

“Why did you lie to them?” Harry asked.

“I had to say something to pacify them. They’re in a nasty mood. They might riot.”

“Maybe we oughta call for a SWAT team.”

“Good idea,” Bert said. “Especially since it might be hours before a body turns up. Would you believe nobody died over the past two days?  I called our competitors and the morgue. None of them has a single corpse.  They can’t figure out why there’s a dry spell.”

“Maybe it’s because of global warming,” said Harry.

When they reached the office, Harry asked, “So what are we gonna do?”

“I’d like you to honor the employment agreement you signed.”

“Do you mean the clause that said I was subject to lay off if there’s a sales slump?”

When Harry fell to the floor with a bullet in his brain, Bert said. “Not that clause. I meant the one where you agreed to do whatever’s necessary to meet the needs of the business.”

Heading for the Drive-Thru with Harry’s body aboard a gurney, Bert sang, “There’s no business like show business.”