“God bless him,” said Georgia, as she stood at the foot of the ramshackle grave marked with the name ‘Renner H. Cromwell’. Beneath it was the date of his death, as well as a short sentimental inscription: ‘A man of honour.’ Georgia and her partner Carolin huddled closely together while the early winter wind whipped around the cemetery. Beneath her heavy scarf, Carolin’s face twisted. “Who paid for the lettering? Aren’t you supposed to pay by the letter?” She stuffed her hands further into her coat pockets and exhaled a cloud of frozen breath. “This son of a bitch’s name alone could put his family in debt.” She bent down as if to observe the handicraft of the headstone up close. Georgia clenched her teeth and glared at her partner. “He was a good man. Really,” she said. Carolin chuckled. “You know, if you have to say that, it usually means he wasn’t very good at all.”
Back on the main road, the pair walked with their heads down towards the centre of town. “I feel like I should have brought flowers,” Georgia said through her scarf. “He was an important man. Do you get cursed if you don’t bring flowers to the grave of an important man?” At first, she laughed at herself for thinking this, but then she felt a chill run up her spine and she fell silent once more. If she wouldn’t be cursed for forgetting flowers, then she sure as hell would be cursed for what she had already done to his grave.
Under the warm light of a street side café, the two shed their layers of clothing and sat at a table by the window. “It’ll be in the news before long. They’re gonna know,” Carolin said, her hands wrapped around a mug full of freshly poured coffee. Georgia waved away the waiter’s attempts to pour a mug for her as well. Carolin sighed; “They’re exhuming the grave on Saturday and they’ll know that we were hanging around.” Georgia stared out the window and tapped her fingers on the table. In a sudden moment of clarity, she shook her head. “No. No, they aren’t gonna know,” she said. Carolin looked at her friend in a way that said, ‘I appreciate the optimism, but at the same time I really don’t.’ Georgia didn’t even notice. Her mind was already spinning at a mile a minute with ideas. “Hear me out! We do something public, but not too showy. We pay homage to him somehow, get the dirt off our shoulders. Easy as that.” The waiter came around a second time with a new pot of coffee, to which an exhausted Carolin raised her mug for a refill. “That’s a fine idea, but where are we gonna get one this time of year?” She asked, after burning her tongue on the coffee. Georgia furrowed her brow at her partner. “It doesn’t have to be something huge, just… like I said, just to pay homage to him, make it seem like we respected him-” she rambled, before being cut off by Carolin. “Yeah, I heard you the first time, but where are we gonna get one this time of year?” Georgia had already pulled out her phone and started writing down notes. “Carolin. What do you mean one?” They gawked at each other in mutual confusion. Georgia blinked. “A lobster,” Carolin said simply. Georgia stared, dumbfounded, at her. “You said pay homage. Lobster. I’m taking online French courses,” Carolin confessed. When it finally clicked, Georgia laughed and put her head in her hands. “God dammit, Carolin, you better not end up in prison. They would chew you up.”
They paid the cheque and donned their winter clothes once again, everything the same as it was before, except for the word homard that had been hastily written in black pen on Carolin’s hand as a reminder. The fear was only now beginning to set in. It would only be a matter of time before someone realized that the grave of public figure Renner H. Cromwell was empty. They were going to have to come up with a plan, and fast. Preferably not lobster-related.
*via Daily Prompt: Homage
*This story was written on 08/27/17 – the day the prompt was released.