Surprise! Surprise!

Surprise! Surprise!

Toe tag

Two bodies involved in a head-on collision earlier that week were just delivered to the Morningside Funeral Home. When their Lincoln Town Car collided with a semi carrying steel beams, the young man was decapitated and his fiancé lost the upper right quarter of her face. Both died instantly.

Jane Regan, who was working late, called the owner, Gregory Stickley, to inform him of the delivery.

Gregory, his new wife, Mandy, and her two daughters, Cindy and Sandy, were sitting at a large dining room table when the call came in. A large birthday cake with forty candles had been placed in the middle of the table.

“Can’t you call Henry to take care of this tonight?” Mandy said in exasperation. “It’s your birthday, and we are so looking forward to the party I planned for you.”

“Darling, I know you’re disappointed, but we can have the party tomorrow night.”

“Day-old cake won’t taste the same, I promise you.”

“Order a new cake if it makes you happy.” Gregory kissed her on the cheek and threw two kisses to Cindy and Sandy as he departed through the door that led to the garage and his Lexus.

When Gregory arrived at the funeral home, Jane was typing correspondence in the office on the first floor.

“When did the accident victims arrive?”

“Larry and Steve wheeled the gurneys into the lab about seven p.m. I called Henry, but couldn’t reach him. I think he said he was going to the movies with Blanch. Do you want me to try again?”

“No, there’s no need. My fortieth birthday party has been ruined tonight, so I may as well let Henry enjoy the rest of his evening. I can get the ball rolling, and Henry can finish up tomorrow.”

Jane looked at Gregory suspiciously, and after weighing his comments concerning Henry, she looked at the calendar on her Rolodex and said, “It really is your birthday…April second…how could I have forgotten?”

“I was about to blow out the candles when you called. Mandy and the kids are really mad at you for breaking up such a lavish affair.”

“You really didn’t need to be here tonight. Henry could have handled it.”

Gregory ignored this comment. “Why are you working overtime?”

“I’m not working overtime,” Jane retorted. “I need to take some personal leave, and I was cleaning out my inbox.”

“Did you call the temp agency?”

“Of course I did. I wouldn’t leave without getting someone to fill in while I’m gone. I would think you would know that by now.”

“Hey, I apologize,” Gregory said as he paced back and forth across the office and poured himself a cup of stale coffee. “Do what you’ve got to do, and come back as soon as you can. You know I can’t get along without you.”

This comment rekindled some old emotions for Jane, at least for a split second, but the reality of recent events restored her deep hatred for Gregory almost as fast.

“Look, I’d better get started.” Gregory pitched the remnants of the coffee in the trashcan. “As I’ve indicated in the past. I don’t want to be disturbed once I start the embalming process.”

Jane looked at him with a sideways glance and reached for her purse from under her desk. She started to straighten a few sticky notes in her daybook as Gregory opened the door that led to the basement. She heard the bolt click before he descended the stairs.

Jane extracted a sealed letter of resignation from her purse and placed it in the middle of her desk. She took one last look around the office and left the building for the last time.

She got into her car and drove to a local restaurant. She requested a quiet table, and the maître d’ escorted her to a table toward the back. She pulled her cell phone from her purse and dialed Mandy.

“Oh, hello, Mandy. This is Jane at Morningside. Gregory told me he’s feeling really guilty about not celebrating his birthday with you and the kids. After all, forty is a milestone, and it should be special. I suggest you and the kids come over to the office. We can have a surprise party for Gregory here. I don’t know if you know this, but Gregory loves surprises.”

“Really? The kids will be so excited.”

“I left the back door to the basement open for you. I’ll be helping Gregory with paperwork, and Henry will be processing the bodies. Just come on in with the cake, and we’ll all yell ‘surprise’ as soon as we see you.”

“You don’t know how much this means to the kids and me, Jane. Let’s have lunch sometime this week. I’d like to get to know you a little better.”

“You don’t need to thank me. Seeing the look on Gregory’s face will be reward enough for me. Don’t wait too long before you come. I’m really looking forward to the party.”

Jane returned her cell to her purse and started perusing the menu. She thought a very dry martini would be the perfect drink to celebrate Gregory’s birthday.

Mandy pulled around back of the funeral home, as Jane had suggested, and parked the Mercedes next to one of the black hearses. The only lights that were on in the building were in the basement. There was a low drone of rock music throbbing from within.

Mandy shushed the kids and told them to be very quiet, as to not spoil the surprise. She placed the cake on a table on the porch and quickly lit the candles. Cindy and Sally giggled excitedly as Mandy opened the door.

They burst into the lab and screamed merrily, “Surprise! Surprise!”

The threesome was blinded momentarily by the bright fluorescent lights and disoriented by an earsplitting sound of Sam the Sham’s great rock classic, “Wooly Bully.”

When their eyes adjusted to the lights, Mandy and the kids stood frozen in a state of shock at the sight they would remember until the day they died. Gregory was nude atop the naked female corpse on the embalming table. His hands were squeezing her large breasts in unison with each violent thrust of his hips. His eyes were closed tight in a fit of ecstasy, unaware that Mandy and the kids had entered the room.

The right quarter of the young woman’s face was a hollow cavern of gore and the absence of her right cheek gave her exposed teeth a sardonic smile.

Mandy fled with the kids and called the police. The two officers who answered the call also found Gregory in a fit of ecstasy with his eyes closed until they cuffed him.

Gregory committed suicide in the fifth year of his ten-year prison sentence for necrophilia due to a severe case of hemorrhoids.


This story is found in my first compilation of 32 nightmares, Black As Night and in Thrillers and Chillers. If you like it, more horror is available on

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I have written 171 short stories so far in my quest to exceed Ray Bradbury's 400 short stories. It goes without saying it will be an uphill climb. My web site,, includes sample stories from all ten horror story collections. Since reviews are the life's blood of every author, I would greatly appreciate a review of any of my books on and hold anyone who does in high esteem for all eternity. Stephen King is my favorite horror writer, and I admire what King has accomplished in the horror genre in terms of movies made from his considerable volume of work. My Coffeesmoke channel on You Tube has amassed over 2,600,000 hits, mostly from my "Dead Celebrities" videos. I love movies and had seen over 1,500 by the age of 13 when there was snow on 13 channels after midnight. My favorite horror movies are Halloween, Night of the Living Dead, and the Evil Dead. My favorite movie of all time Is Frank Capra's It's A Wonderful Life with James Stewart. My favorite authors are Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, John Sandford, Michael Connelly, Robert B. Parker , Clive Cussler, James Patterson, Jeffery Deaver, Dean Koontz, Edgar Allen Poe, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, James Lee Burke, Richard Matheson, Lee Child, Jack Ketchum& Jack Kilborn/Konrath.
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