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Joe and Alice Storm inherited a funeral home from their parents.  They had worked with their parents, so they were qualified to run a funeral home. They had a good reputation and were always busy.

One night, during a performance, a world famous magician died.  Because his home was in Greenfield, Massachusetts, his body was taken to the Storm funeral home.

“So, this is the famous Zara?” Joe said. I never saw him perform, but I understand he was amazing.”

“I saw him once in Las Vegas, and  he was amazing.  He called for a volunteer from   the audience  and gave him a knife.  There was a brief moment during which Zara meditated and then he told the volunteer to stab him.  The volunteer didn’t want to, but   Zara held his hand and pulled the knife into his stomach.  Zara fell to the floor on his side with his back to the audience. There was a loud gasp from the audience, and, after a minute, he stood up and held the knife in his hand.  It was something to see.

“Well, we’re going to get Mr. Zara ready to disappear,” Joe said and went down to the room where bodies were embalmed.

A week later, a mass was held, and hundreds of people came to mourn the loss of the great magician.  At the cemetery, hundreds of people stood in the rain as the casket was lowered into his grave.  After the mourners left the cemetery, Joe and Alice returned to the funeral home.

“Well, that was quite a gathering.  I recognized some show-business people,” Joe said.

“I could have done without the rain,” Alice complained.  We’ve had funerals in the rain before, but this is the first time I felt that the whole proceeding at the cemetery was strange, eerie.  Anyway, it’s over.  Are you hungry? I’m gonna make myself a sandwich,” she said and went into the kitchen while Joe went into his office.  As he sat down, he heard Alice scream, and he ran into the kitchen.  Alice was on the floor, and Zara was sitting at the kitchen table.  “Oh, my God,” Joe gasped.  I must be dreaming,” he said and slapped his face.  At that moment, Alice came to and stood up

“Alice, do you see who I see?”

“Do you see Zara?”

“God,  yes.”

“My name isn’t really Zara.  That was my stage name.  My real name is Elwood Snarl.  Say, do you have anything to eat? I’m starving.”

“Uh, Mr. Snarl …”

“Please call me Elwood.”

“Uh, Elwood, you’re dead.  We buried you.  How could, I mean, how did you get here?”

“Magic.  I’m a magician.  I wasn’t going to stay in that disgusting grave. Would you want to spend eternity in a wooden box in the ground?”

“Well, n, no,” Joe stammered, but, you’re dead.  We embalmed you and buried you.”

“I know, and that embalming fluid is very, let’s say, unpleasant.  Now, do you have anything to eat?  I’m very hungry?  I haven’t eaten  since I died.”

“You can have my sandwich …after you prove we’re not dreaming,” Alice said.  “How did you escape from your grave?”

“Simple, I said a few magic words and zap, I was standing in the rain, and, you know, it’s a long walk from the cemetery here to my home away from life, so to speak.”

“Magic words? What are you talking about?  Once you’re dead, you’re dead.  And that’s that.  You have to go back to your grave,” Joe said adamantly.

“Okay, okay. Is it alright if I stay here until it stops raining?  After it stops raining I’ll walk back to my grave. I could use the exercise.”

“I guess so,” Alice said. ”Y’ know, you look terrible. You look like you died and they forgot to bury you. If people see you, you’ll scare the hell out of them.  We’ll drive you to your grave  tomorrow night.  Take your sandwich and go down to the preparation room and wait.  Lie down on the preparation table and take a nap,” she said and he went down to the preparation room.

The next morning, Alice went down to the preparation room to check on Elwood, and, then ran upstairs to Joe.   “Joe, Elwood is gone.  He was supposed to wait until tonight to go back to his grave, but he must have gone back as soon as the rain stopped.

“We’ll, Elwood is a mystery.  We’ll never know.

A week later, Joe was reading the paper.  “Oh, my God,   Alice, look.

She took the paper and read.  “This week only at the Center Stage Theater, back from the dead, the magic of the Great Zara.”

The End


Bio: While teaching, Mr. Greenblatt wrote short stories and plays.  One of his plays won a Smith College playwriting competition.  Since retiring in 2000, he has written short stories, novellas, and plays.  Some of his short stories have been published in on-line magazines, and others were published in print anthologies.


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