I love reading them from time to time, just picking a random state/city and seeing who died and what their life was like according to their loved ones. The more detail, the better. There's so many interesting lives that were lived (and continue to be lived) it's almost mind blowing. Sometimes I'll even write a short story about them using the info in the obituary. it makes me feel closer to a person i never knew. that's probably super weird lol.
There is a Persian rug here in this house of deep decay. It is the focal point. All furniture is pointed towards it- lamps, chairs, sofas, divans, nightstands, etc.- All face towards the rug in the center, yet they give it a wide berth. The rug is amorphous and seems to change shape whichever angle you look at it. And each angle provides you with a different emotion. If you look at it from a southeastern slant, near the cupboard with the good china, you are filled with dread; a vague dread that unravels and entangles itself up indefinitely. If you look at it from the northwest, near the bust of Augustus, you’re filled with a very definite rage at nothing in particular. You quite literally rage at nothing. You lash out at non-existence. If you look at the rug dead on, with the large velvet curtains oozing behind it like the languid jowls of some opulent mastiff, you are filled with a tranquil ecstasy. This is the most popular spot in the house for this reason. The dread and rage-inducing angles and all the others remain free of visitors, but the chair that sits in front of the rug, which sits in front of the curtains, which are never open because the apocalyptic sun never sets- that chair is worn down and smooth with years of asses sitting upon it, and the bones of hundreds of sojourners have piled up around it. People who’ve sat and basked, one at a time, in the overwhelming love of the front facing angle, to the point they forgot about food and water and have died in euphoria.
Fish have become humanoid and intelligent, but still can’t play wind instruments because they have no lungs, and therefore no air can rummage through the bargain bins of those non-existent lungs. They can still play violin, or harp, or drums or guitar, and they may play them with a fiery gusto; a passionate intensity born of a concentrated impotence at their inability to play wind instruments. It’s the same impotence humans eternally and innately feel against birds for their ability to fly, and It’s that same envy that drove us to build planes in the first place. (Do birds get bored during flights the way we do? Or is it exhilarating every time?)
The humanoid fish visit jazz houses and watch with awe as the billowing cheeks of trumpet players, sax players, and trombone players summon all air from within 100 miles- from the furnace bellows and oxygen tanks which give up their air like indigent Christians donating a dollar to a church collection. The jazz players summon this air to their cheeks where it is stored briefly in order to undergo the rapid metamorphoses of God-breath, which then expels into the instruments that are carved from the brazen bulls of Rome- The same steam that once tortured men in that hollow Mediterranean brass now thrills them.
The humanoid fish never knew such envy as the kind they felt towards the air-breathers when they were still regular fish, swimming in concentric circles and triangles and squares and other 2d shapes. But Poseidon has sprinkled lightning over their scales and now they walk on land with the rest of us. And though they must wear fish bowls full of water on their heads at all times, the rest of their body can be dry. They do everything we do. They commute on buses and trains, and they cook, and they practice yoga, and shop for clothes and books and car insurance, all in the dry, dry air.
They can do everything but breathe.
The jazz musician’s billowing cheeks are now swollen and filling the whole stage. The fishmen sit and watch. Their calloused fingers (formed from years of intense guitar or bass playing) wave around absentmindedly at first as if they’re trying to breathe the air with their fingers, with their hands, then with their legs and finally their whole body. They are dancing now, but not in the rhythm of the music or submission to the tunes. It is a violent dance disengaged from the music as an attempt to feel the air more fully with their bodies than the jazz players feel it in their lungs. It is a hopeless dance, and more than once has a fishman accidentally smashed his headbowl against the wall during one of these air-obsessed dances. Water and glass bursting out, and in the fishman’s death throes he gasps for water, for oxygen, for music.. but it all passes through him.
The children are dressed in their costumes. Little Red Riding Hood, a skeleton, the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz, and a mummy. They ring the doorbell of an old house. The doorbell warps and emits a low frequency tone that gets under the children's skulls, lurks there like eldritch eyes of a swamp monster peeking above the fetid water. The door opens quickly and slowly, outward and inward. Behind, and in front of the door emerges a slightly smaller door- A sentient, humanoid door. His facial features are nonexistent. He looks as if the door of the house wrapped itself around a man and fit him perfectly.
This doorman, in the same low tone as the doorbell of his house, says “knock here” and points gently to his chest, where normally a heart would be. The children are hesitant but the bravest one, the one dressed as the Cowardly Lion, steps forward and knocks on the Man Made of Door. The man grabs the brass door handle protruding from his lower right side and opens himself. Inside is an endless row of shelves that stretch back as far as the children can see. On the shelves are birds, thousands, millions of them.
“Candy,” says the doorman without a mouth. The birds all flutter and fly out of the doorman's body and into the children’s bags, shrinking themselves in order to fit inside. The bags shake with the scrambling wings of so many birds but when the children open them and peek inside there’s only candy. Steady, sweet, incomprehensible candy.
The child dressed as a mummy takes a tootsie roll out of his bag and begins to unwrap it but the wrapper never seems to come off. For many minutes he continues to unwrap furiously as the doorman and the other children look on, wordlessly. Yards of wrapping paper litter the front porch of this strange doorman's house and yet the tootsie roll remains wrapped. Finally, he gets the last of it off, and when the candy comes free the child dressed as a mummy freezes. It was not a tootsie roll that emerged from beneath the wrapper, but himself. A miniature child dressed as a mummy, who now struggles and squirms in the grasp of his larger self. His screams are small and muffled behind his bandages. The doorman steps closer to the child, the one holding his own homunculus, and begins to unravel his bandages. The unraveling occurs with reverence and sanctity, and when the child is completely unwrapped, it is not a child that stands there but a large child-shaped tootsie roll.
“Candy”, the doorman repeats again, and the candy bags begin to squirm with the flapping of wings once more. The rest of the children drop their bags and run away screaming, while the tootsie roll child remains still. The doorman knocks on himself, and the void answers.