He’s been dead quite some time, six maybe seven years I’d say.  He passed right here in this house.  That was the way he wanted it.  He didn’t want doctors and nurses poking away at him until there was nothing left.  I don’t think he found much honor in going that way. 

Years ago he built his own coffin right there in the garage.  He spent three months smoothing and notching the pine until it was just so.  He put so much lacquer on it that it shed water like a duck’s back.  I’ll rot long before this pine box does he told me one night. 

When he finished it he carried it in and stood it upended in the corner.  It was one of the strangest things I do believe I’ve ever seen.  That coffin standing contoured and waiting in the corner. It wasn’t exactly an omen.  Then one day he brought some boards in and tacked them across.  He put a few dusty volumes on the shelves, an old hickory clock, and the birch whittled wood figures he carved.  It looked like any other bookcase.  Why, whenever we had company they would complement him on it.  He would just smile real big like and say thank you.  That was the kind of man he was.

When he passed the coroner came to the house.  He went out to his van to get a bag and I told him he wouldn’t be needing it.  I took down the volumes, the hickory clock, and the birch whittled figures and put them on the vestibule.  I knocked out the tacks and took the boards out and told the coroner to put him in the coffin and save his bag.  He just stood there trying to think of something to say.  That’s quite clever he finally said.  Thank you I said and smiled real big.

Then he took the coffin out and ever since I have needed some place to put these volumes, and clock, and figures.  Don’t you know he built one for me too.  I was hoping you’d help me carry it in and tack the board across. 

Jeremy Sexton

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