The Boiler Funeral Woman

The Boiler Funeral Woman

A Story by Nicolas Jao

An undercover cop and a bus driver meet an unexpected fate.


The Cop

She was heaven. All I could think of were the events that lead me to this time and place to see her. Fate, she can be cruel as hell. But she’s wonderful too, and I’ve come to think she has an odd knack at unexpectedly helping you in unconventional ways. I was an undercover cop, you see, trying to get in on some business with this big drug lord we’re trying to take down, dealing cocaine in the slums. Yeah, that’s where I was. The slums. I needed a way home, so I bought a ticket and took a ride on the public bus. 

The driver was friendly as hell, too. I was the only passenger on the bus, so he was the only one I could really talk to. He said he had a family. Two little girls and their beautiful madre. He could pay attention to the road and talk all about them so well, as if he’d done it for years. He couldn’t wait to get back home to see them all the time, he said, but he needed to work. He needed to get enough money to feed them every day, to cloth them, to send them to school. That’s what his Papa did for him, he said. Until the old man got killed by a gang in the middle of the night. Or died from some terrible disease in his sixties, I don’t remember. It was one of those.

Everything was fine so far, you see. After the conversation I put my feet up and relaxed.  You should’ve seen us. By that time I felt like we were best friends already. A couple of old lifetime pals going home after a long day of work. 

Outside was hot, and the bus had air conditioning. We were passing through the slums. I saw some children playing football outside, their bare feet splashing in muddy puddles from the rain the night before. They were all chasing the ball like maniacs. We got to a stop and a couple of young men in yellow jerseys got on, filling up the empty seats in the bus. They were some football team. They were younger than me, although not that young. The silence of the bus was suddenly filled with their laughter and conversations. They were playfully pushing each other around and making jokes as if they’d been a group of friends since forever. None of them tried to talk to me, so I didn’t care to talk to them either. I was just an undercover drug dealer minding my own business.

The details regarding the next few moments are murky. All of a sudden our bus got caught in traffic. I don’t remember how it happened, really. The traffic seemed to come out of nowhere, and the bus driver was cursing and honking at the road. He probably really wanted to see his daughters, I could tell. Fathers always throw a fit of rage when traffic slows them from seeing their daughters.

The street exploded. Inferno lit up the sky as our bus was skyrocketed. The football team, the bus driver, and I shielded ourselves from the pieces of glass as our bus went on its side over other cars. I saw lots of blood, not really knowing whose it was or where it came from. Smoke covered most of what I could see. There was also yelling from the football players and other people outside. Screams and cries for help. Not a long time after, I heard the loud wailing of sirens, or the wailing of children, I don’t remember. It was one of those. 

Nothing I knew made sense at that moment. In my head I quickly conspired a few scenarios, such as maybe I was being targeted because they found out I was a cop, or the bus driver was being targeted by some daughter-hating criminals, but what I think I settled with were assassins after the football team. Maybe they were too good or something. Maybe they were getting in the way of all the other teams at the local championship. Either way, I blacked out soon after.

Everything was better when I woke up. I remember opening my eyes and seeing myself with minor injuries. I was in a wheelchair, a blood bag was connected to my arm, and I had a bandage wrapped around my head and a few other places such as my legs, but otherwise I was fine. Glancing around further I figured I wasn’t even in a hospital. I was in a log cabin, and sunlight was pouring in the windows. They must have put me here after I recovered from the hospital. I smelled the ocean, and the room was decorated with sea shells and starfish. I was at the beach.

When I looked over to my side I saw my bus driver friend in another wheelchair. I was glad to see him, and to see him with minor injuries too. He was still asleep in his wheelchair. I didn’t want to wake him up, so I decided to rest there silently.

Soon the door opened and I saw a pretty lady walk in, in a Hawaiian shirt and white shorts so short barely anything was left for imagination. She had a flower tucked in her ear and wore a pink flower necklace. She introduced herself to me as our caretaker after the hospital relocated us here. She’d been nursing us back to health as we slept, treating our wounds and practically spoon-feeding us. She was friendly as hell too, smiling with those white teeth all the time. After waking up my bus driver friend, she told us that we were already fully healed and we could go enjoy the resort. I remember my bus driver friend, confused, asking what she meant. She told us that we would see.

We were at a tropical beach resort. Nothing less than the sands and the waves. The shining and glittering ocean, the coconut trees, the straw huts, all of it. There were people bathing in the sunlight or surfing on tides. The resort building that my bus driver friend and I had our rooms in had a nice view of the beach. There was a buffet for lunch and dinner, and men and women in hula skirts served us. We had a great time.

I asked our caretaker if it was free, and she told me yes, it was for the people recovering from the terrorist bomb attack. The one all over the news. Then I was reminded of that incident and realized that I couldn’t stay long. Neither could my friend. So I told her that everything was nice and all, but I had a country to return to. A government to report to. It was a duty I had to fulfill. And I told her about my bus driver friend, too. I said that he had a family he needed to return to as well, two little girls and their madre who were probably worried sick about him. 

Her charming smile immediately calmed me down. You should’ve seen me, I was relaxed as hell. She said it was okay, everything was fine. All the victims’ friends and family were informed that we were okay and still slowly recovering at the resort, as well as laying low if the terrorists were planning to target any of us again. Although, I could’ve sworn she told us earlier that we were fully healed, and not still recovering. I don’t remember. It was one of those.

So I spent days there. The days turned into months. I had grown accustomed to the people at the resort and all the activities. I learned to surf, I danced around a campfire, I practiced the ukulele. The girls in hula skirts loved to watch me play. The food at the buffet was still good since day one. I even knew the names of the chefs.

My bus driver friend and I talked more, too. Now you really should’ve seen us, laughing and patting our backs as if we were best friends for life, drinking from beer bottles and having a good time. It was always just us two. We had met so many people and gotten so used to life at the resort, it was amazing. Hell, I’d even call it paradise.

Next I remember, one day my bus driver friend and I were attending a funeral. The deceased man had been a boiler operator. His funeral was held out in this field, and all the attendees in black suits held onto their umbrellas in case there would be rain. My bus driver friend and I were solemnly looking at the ground, our hands behind our backs, silently grieving for the boiler, the old pal. I think it did rain. It poured, I recall, and everyone took out their black umbrellas, as well as my bus driver friend and I.

That’s when I saw her. She was heaven. A latecomer, walking down the grass field to us, the crowd in front of the coffin. She was so lovely, her wavy brown hair, red lipstick, and green eyes. Looking at the ground in despair, holding her umbrella in an angle over her head so her black trench coat wouldn’t get wet. 

I saw my bus driver friend glancing at her too, interested. But I was going to talk to her first, and I didn’t want him to get a chance. After the funeral, I went up to her and asked if she wanted a drink. She said yes. I couldn’t believe it, and her eyes even sparkled as she said it. Her white smile was gorgeous and mind-melting, perhaps it was love, I don’t know. All I could think of was what it took to get to her. The bus ride and the bomb attack and the beach resort, and in that moment I thanked Fate for everything.

Later that night, I picked her up at her apartment and we took a taxi to the bar. She looked so good in her outfit, I considered proposing right there. I don’t remember much about the bar. All I remember is that we got drunk. We couldn’t think straight at all and so I told the taxi driver to take us back to my room at the resort, where we shared the night.

The years went by. After a very long time, I proposed to her. We eventually got married and bought our own place. She’s now my wife and we’ve been married a long time. 

The Bus Driver

I had to see my daughters, who were probably waiting for me at home, missing me. So I had to get home quick. I picked up a man near the slums who was really friendly, at least when I spoke to him. He was the only one on the bus and I could tell he was bored, so I talked to him. We had a great conversation. He told me about his life and job as a drug dealer hiding from the cops. We joked around a bit, me asking him if he could sneak some drugs for me, laughing and all like we were compadres for life. I told him about mi bella esposa, and how I would die for her, do anything in the world for her, never leave her for another woman no matter how beautiful.

Then, of course, we got into the bomb incident. It was after we just picked up some football players in yellow jerseys, who were being all rowdy and loud, and soon after that we entered some traffic. The blast was so powerful I felt my bones shatter, and I think my ears were ringing for days.

Then my friend and I woke up in this tropical resort. We were greeted by these ladies in hula skirts serving beer and coconut drinks. I remember us staying there for months, or maybe years, I don’t remember. It was one of those. 

We met so many people and had a great time as we recovered from our injuries. The waves were so nice. It was the epitome of soothing and relaxing. My drug dealer friend and I had this group of us that would enjoy some beer as we talked and looked at the ocean. We would do it most nights and would light up a campfire when it got dark.

One day a man, who worked as a boiler operator, died. My drug dealer friend and I went to his funeral to pay our respects. It was sunny all day, and everyone held onto their umbrellas uselessly. 

During the funeral service I happened to see this gorgeous woman. I longed to own that dark hair, that olive skin, and those brown eyes. She was the love of my life. Suddenly, I had to protect her. I took a look around and was relieved to see no one had an interest in her yet, although I noticed my drug dealer friend next to me briefly eyeing her time to time as well. There was no way I would let him talk to her first, to act friendly around her and all as he did to me. I could not bear that thought.

Luckily, Fate was on my side when some drug dealers I assumed my drug dealer friend knew showed up and needed to talk to him, so he was distracted. I went up to the woman and talked with her. We had a fantastic talk, you should’ve seen us. We were practically all over each other already. I invited her to dinner, and we were already so familiar with each other I didn’t fear a refusal.

We went to a fancy restaurant and didn’t hold back on the drinks. While drunk, I suggested to see a movie and she said yes. I don’t remember the theatre all too well. All I know is that we weren’t really paying attention to the movie, distracted by each other. I think at that point we were literally all over each other. She said she wasn’t finished with me so she took me to her place, practically dragging me by the collar. I was so drunk, in alcohol or love, I don’t remember. It was one of those. The taxi ride there was the greatest of my life.

Eventually, we stayed together for years and got married. Now she’s my lovely wife, and we always go to that same tropical beach resort that I woke up in after Fate decided to plant terrorists in my path to bomb my bus. I love those terrorists, I love the bomb attack. Without it I would not have met my wife. We are now happily married with two children, both girls. I love my daughters more than anything in the world. I get to see them all the time.

The Woman

The boiler operator was my childhood friend. We’ve been friends for as long as I can remember, probably even before that. I never even got the chance to tell him how I felt. And perhaps he died before he could, as well. His death wasn’t fair, and Fate is cruel as hell.

So I went to his funeral, sadder than I’ve ever been in my damn life. I remember walking on the grass field, late and being sorry as hell for it, the tears mixing with the light rain. I put up my umbrella as I walked to the crowd already surrounding the coffin. The terrorist attack didn’t hold back. He was nearest to the bomb and got the most fatal treatment. Severely burned and injured, he stayed alive for weeks at the hospital, which was a miracle, but then Fate had to ruin the damn miracle because I was on a vacation and couldn’t get a plane back in time to him. Now I have to walk on a wet and muddy grass field for it, wondering if he knew I had tried to see him and confess to him before he died.

While walking to the coffin, I saw two men in wheelchairs. They were both practically covered, wrapped head-to-toe in bandages and wearing hospital gowns. A man and woman were behind them, pushing one wheelchair each for them. They were doctors or nurses, I could tell. Their white coats. 

I was reminded that my boiler operator friend wasn’t the only one injured from the incident. In my eyes, since he meant the world to me, I had forgotten about the eleven other people injured or dead. The pedestrians, at least. On the news there were more inside the cars, and also this big bus that had a football team on it, I think.

So I knew who they were. The two men on wheelchairs. I’ve heard about them. They were traumatized after the incident I think, and they were taken to a special mental institute, not being the same since. They’ve been there ever since the bomb attack injured them. The strangest thing was that as I walked by them, they were lousily staring at me the whole time, which kind of bothered me. At least when staring at someone, try to be discreet. I could even feel their gazes on me throughout the entire funeral. Remembering it now makes me shiver, seeing their peering eyes through the bandages on their faces. As soon as the funeral ended, I apologized like hell to my childhood friend again for leaving so quick and drove home. I think I smoked a whole damn pack of cigarettes in my room for the rest of the day. You should have seen me, I could’ve sworn I was mad.


© 2020 Nicolas Jao

Author's Note

Nicolas Jao
I wanted the theme of this story to be about madness. In other words, how much people actually delve into their personal fantasies to get some pleasure. It's something we all do. We create our own paracosms of bliss and pretend we live in it during our darkest days. This story is tragic, and it ends that way. However, in the eyes of our characters, the cop and the bus driver, they are living their best lives, even forgetting their old ones. It's only during the end, in the point of view of the funeral woman, that they are completely delusional.

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Added on June 12, 2020
Last Updated on June 16, 2020
Tags: literary, mentalillness, madness, mad, dream, literature


Nicolas Jao
Nicolas Jao

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

It's the cliche story. I've been writing since I was six, and it's a passion. I like to read, listen to music, watch the NBA, learn science and programming, and eat food. My favourite book is The Hous.. more..

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