We buried a Playboy Bunny the other day. She fell, drowned, died alone in a caravan.
There were photographs of her with Sammy Davis Jnr, Hugh Hefner, dozens of the famous faces of the sixties. Her little black book had Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, among others.
So long, L_____. I know you had a sister, who hadn’t spoken to you for years. I know about your ex-husband across in England, who you married just so you wouldn’t have to leave the country.
‘His heart, Nancy…’ is what I tell her. ‘It looks like he just slept away. He never felt a thing.’ These are all the well-tested comforts one learns after twenty-five years of doing these things.
‘But why?’ she asks me, and now it is clear that how it happened is not good enough. And here I’m thinking of all the usual suspects: cheeseburgers, whiskey, Lucky Strikes, the thirty extra pounds we, some of us, carry, the walks we didn’t take, the preventative medicines we all ignore, the work and worry and the taxman, the luck of the draw, the nature of the beast, the way of the world, the shit that happens because it happens.
But Nancy is not asking for particulars. She wants to know why, in the much larger, Overwhelming Question sense: why we don’t just live for ever. Why we are all eventually orphaned and heartbroken. Why we human beings cease to be. Why our nature won’t leave well enough alone. Why we are not all immortal.
— Thomas Lynch, Bodies In Motion And At Rest, 2000.
Ask me about the guy getting buried with his inflated sex doll. She must be on top, face-down, according to the specific instructions left behind.
Ask me about how heavy a person must be when the hearse is kept in the garage and the delivery truck called in. And how much extra it costs to dig the grave.
Ask me about the pornography collection and the bomb squad in Kensington, or how long you can keep someone on ice before extremities began to be lost.
Ask me how long it takes for the cremation flames to burn through a human body.
Ask me about the coroner’s reports, about the murders, the suicides and the simply unfortunate.
Ask me about the ones left behind. The widows and widowers, the daughters and sons, secret lovers, married cousins, mistresses and love children.
Ask me the one about the Playboy Bunny. I searched for her, you. I googled you the other day, L_____, to see what legacy you’d left.
And I found nothing, nothing at all.