It’s nighttime, a silent hour when the world should be sleeping. During these dark moments -- it’s impossible to say exactly when -- Genevieve Sher, a mother, widow, and cat owner, slipped away, without saying goodbye, and left this world forever. It was time.
Her death starts a chain reaction of activities. First, her body has to be removed -- can’t just stay there in the bed. The need to remove Genevieve’s body and take it somewhere else, somewhere cold and out of sight, leads her daughter Malinda to makes "the first call" as it is known in funeral parlance, to Jones’ Funeral Chapel, which leads to another call to Simona Salco, the funeral director on call for the evening.
Simona lives in a tiny apartment. Just the basics -- she’s young, still finding her way. The only sound in her room is the tick-tock of a clock. A beam from the street light shines through the window. Simona's phone rings. She stirs in bed. The phone keeps ringing. Simona sits up and turns on the bedside light.
SIMONA Hello? Hi Jerry. I’m fine... Yeah, I'm the funeral director on call. Oh. Ok. Where is she now? At the house? Did you call the guys? What’s the dead lady's name? Hang on, let me get a pen. (Reaches for pen and paper on night table.) Genevieve Sher… And the next of kin? Malinda Sher… Ok, she’s the daughter? She wants a call? (Rubs face.)
Um... ok. What's the number? Ok, thanks Jerry. Bye.
(Simona hangs up and pauses. She yawns. She picks up the phone and dials. We hear a busy signal -- Malinda's tying up the phone after paging someone -- this is annoying. ) Shit.
(Simona lies back in bed for a moment. She sits up and tries again. Call goes through. Simona puts on her professional, kind voice.) Hello, may I speak to Malinda Sher? Malinda, this is Simona Salco, I’m the funeral director on call with Jones Funeral Home. I just received a call from our answering service that your mother passed away. I’m so sorry, ma'am. The answering service said you had some questions?
(Listens) Well, the transportation team should be there in about an hour, maybe less. They have already been dispatched to pick up your mother at her home. Two men will arrive, yes. Um, yes, they will use a cot. They will have a van and they will bring your mother back to the funeral home.
(Pauses.) Yes, that’s right. We can meet in the morning, sure. Would you like to come in around 9:30? Do you have our address? Ok, see you then. See you tomorrow. I’m so very sorry.
(Pauses.) You’re welcome. Good night.
(Simona hangs up phone, turns off light, and settles back into bed. Deep sigh. A few moments pass. The phone rings again. Simona sits up abruptly, annoyed. Picks up phone.) Hello? Oh, hi Jerry. That’s ok. What’s up?
(Groans.) Ok, I’ll call her back. Bye.
(Simona reaches for the pad of paper and re-dials the number. Busy signal) Seriously!?
(Simona throws off the blankets and gets out of bed, paces, somewhat annoyed. She sits on edge of bed. She calls Malinda back. Her professional voice returns.) Hello? Malinda? It’s Simona from Jones… What can I do for… Florists? I’m sorry, what’s the question? Well yes, there are some excellent florists in the area, but I’m not at the mortuary right now… um… I’m at home, and my florist list is at...
(Pause.) Well, it just depends on what you want, and... what kind of service you are planning...
(Pause.) I’m sure we can put our heads together and find an excellent florist.
(Simona gives a friendly laugh, then drops head in her hands.) Perhaps we can go over this when we meet in the morning? It will be easier when I have the list in front of me. I’ll see you tomorrow, Malinda. Ok? Ok. Sure. Good night.
(Simona hangs up the phone, and sighs deeply. She stretches, looks at clock, and rolls eyes. She shuffles to the bathroom. Toilet flushes. The phone rings. Simona is washing her hands... the phone keeps ringing. She rushes back into the room, towel in hands.) Hello? Hi Jerry. What?! Are you serious! They dropped off a body and didn’t close the garage? Well can I just call them and tell them to go back and do it? Really? I’m busy too, trying to sleep! How the hell did you find out it was open? The alarm company…
(Exasperated.) Ok… I’ll drive down and close it. That’s ok. Not your fault, Jerry. Sorry for being cranky.
(Simona hangs up the phone. Looks and pillow, as if wishful thinking. She pulls a jacket over her pajamas, pushes her feet into flip flops, and grabs her car keys before she heads out the door.)