Fact: In the last six months of 2012, no one by the name of Rebbecka Murphy had died. Publicly anyway. She’d tried searching just “Re* Murphy”, in case her mother’s inability to spell had dogged her one last time, but that hadn’t turned up anything, either. She’d even spent most of the night paging through search results for Murphy nationwide in the past six months, on the off chance that Cal had died, too, and the circling, penurious vultures he called children had combined their obituaries. That had come up empty as well.
She frowned, a terrifying expession that had it had a sound would have been described as stentorian, and which seemed vaguely annoyed at having to settle for simply ‘thunderous.’ The libarian backed away slowly, the words drying on her tongue before she could even form the polite, and probably ineffective request she had practiced for the last several minutes that Rebecka allow the next person in line use the computer. There were several banks of them – Rebecka had sniffed at the fact that there were more computer desks in the fancy new library than shelves – but there was just the one that had the minor defect in wiring and ineffable being-ness that allowed the only vaguely corporeal presences of the recently deceased to operate it.
The place was lousy with them, too, slouching and sagging about the place, the mystical improbability of their gothic existence entirely at odds with the heavy-handed Danish Modern aesthetic that the place had been assaulted with. Concrete and brushed nickel everywhere you looked. Rebecka shuddered, wondering off-handedly if she’d given money to abet in the perpetration of this particular architectural monument to bland disinterest. She glanced out the window. The place hadn’t been named after her. It seemed a pretty safe bet her conscience could rest easy on that score.
Narrowing her eyes, she stood, walking toward the window with a disinterested wave to the wilting librarian. She knew that there had to be an obituary before the estate could be dissolved. She had very carefully written it into the will. In order for the lawyer – and wasn’t she going to miss that little bedwarmer now that her bones were cold – to release any funds to the slavering gold-diggers her husband had saddled her with from his first marriage, they had to produce proof that the obituary had been published, exactly as she had written it, in daily newspapers in each of the cities they lived in, at least one of which had to have circulation of over 100,000. And yet nothing had been published. Slowly, grimly, she began to smile. The wretched little ingrates would have none of it, then, and every cent would go to the Titus T Alba Fund for the Preservation of Famous Authorial Typewriter Ribbons and Assassinated Politician’s Spittoons.
She turned, finally deigning to acknowledge the tunnel of white light that had been following her around for several days now, sickly sweet voices cooing gooily after her from the beyond, raddled with the faint windchime-tinkling of celestial static. “Well, let’s have it then,” she demanded impatiently. The light seemed to spasm, surprised at having been noticed at all. She rolled her eyes and shook her head. “You’ve been hanging about for days. Haven’t given me a moment’s peace what with your ridiculous lux eternam nonsense. I can’t go back, so you can’t back out now. Let’s get this little farce over with.” Squaring her shoulders, she started marching forward. The light shrank back a little, not the first being to be daunted by her grim singularity of purpose. Shuddering for a moment, it pressed itself forward, trembling and trepidatious, and Rebecka Ignatia Alba Murphy marched on through to the afterlife.
* * * * * * * * *
[Possibly] To be continued.