Last week I was at Duke Hanley’s funeral. It was an open casket affair as his wife had requested. I wandered around seemingly at random and eavesdropped on mourners’ comments. A few people looked at me like they wondered who I was, but I ignored them.
“Could that have been done by the mortician? I don’t remember him looking so good in life.”
“I remember a shorter guy, but that can’t be right. He couldn’t have grown after he died.”
“Look at those clothes. He was so sloppy while he was alive.”
“Did someone do post-mortem plastic surgery on him, or did I never realize how good he looked?”
Today I’m at the memorial. If anybody asks, I’m a business associate of the deceased and that is not a lie.
The memorial continued the amazement of Duke’s friends, family and associates. The video tribute showed him playing Triple A baseball, college football and finishing a marathon in two hours, fifty four minutes. His intellectual accomplishments were just as amazing – awards in writing, business and physics research. No one but his widow knew anything about his talents. She explained that he was a very modest renaissance man that quietly racked up one success after another. As she put it, “He looked like a big nothing I guess, but he was a genius who could do anything he set his mind to.”
The mourners were completely surprised by the man they thought of as “Duke The Dud”. I imagine they will be telling stories about “Duke The Great” to their friends.
I had been staging what I called “funerunreals” for several years using CGI, staged events and other tricks to improve the deceased’s’ reputations after they died. I only got $250,000 for this job including a great obituary for Duke. My work was made easier because other than his wife, none of the people that saw my production had known him for a long time.
My biggest payday was for a disgraced billionaire politician. No one could have completely rehabilitated him, but I did what I could. After all expenses, I netted $7,978,564.
Some would try to shame me for faking people’s lives, but I think that I was offering a valuable service. Those that lived long enough to view my presentation before moving to the other side were uniformly pleased, and some even started to believe the artificial biography was the real thing. What I did was like hospice, but better, even if it is called fake news. Given the expected uproar about what I did, why give away all my secrets now? “Duke Hanley” is a pseudonym, so I hope his wife will not be exposed. I’ve got stage four cancer and won’t be around much longer to worry about anything, but know one thing – only kings have better funerals and memorials than I will.
Doug Hawley is a little old man who lives in Lake Oswego OR USA with editor Sharon and cat Kitzhaber. His post math and actuarial life includes volunteering, hiking, snowshoeing and music collection. Starting in 2014 inspired by local author Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild” and questionable knees, he has published around a hundred stories two hundred places in the UK, USA, Canada, Netherlands, India, Iraq and Spain. Most included elements of humour (sic – in honour of Brit publishers) in essays, crime, sci fi, drama, horror and twisted romance (not Hallmark). Visit his website, read his blog, and follow him on Twitter @dougiamm.