Pay Your Respects

“He’s dead.”
“Oh my goodness.”
“Don’t slump into your chair like that.”
“You’re complaining about how I sit? There is a dead man on the floor!”
“You’re right, you shouldn’t be sitting at all.”
“Don’t man-handle me like that, Humphrey!”
“I need you up and helping me to shift this body, woman.”
“Don’t touch it!”
“It’s part of the job, you old trout.”
“I don’t like it when you talk to me that way, Humphrey.”
“Then don’t pout at us in that wrinkled fashion you have.”
“Yes, us.”
“He’s dead.”
“Oh, he is? He doesn’t look so dead. Look his cheeks still look rosy. Hello!”
“Don’t wave his arm like that Humphrey, it’s disrespectful.”
“He’s dead.”
“I can’t lift his leg, not even one.”
“That’s because you’re weak, woman.”
“It’s because I’m tired, Humphrey! You drag me to a house that’s chilled with death, and stinks of it too, and then ask me to carry this lump of a man upstairs!”
“Oi, like you said, be respectful. There, he’s sat up right now; we can roll him onto the board. His face might smack it, but if they want him upstairs they need to make exceptions. Fetch his hat.”
“I don’t think he’s too bothered about his hat.”
“No, he’s not, but the family upstairs are. He was a respectable man, very respectable indeed.”
“Oh yes, Humphrey. I can see the respect glinting from his pocket to your eye. Oh no, you shouldn’t!”
“They won’t notice. Foggy eyes and puffy faces, that’s all they’ll be.”
“Are they going to have him sitting on that fine chair they have?”
“No. They want him propped, so we’ll need the metal prod.”
“Oh, Humphrey, isn’t it grim? Disgusting even, and the eyes held open in that unnatural manner. It gives me the chills.”
“It’s their last respects, having him photographed to look as he did in life. A refined gentleman ‘n all he was. It’s the son you have to feel for, poor kid. He’s going to have to stand there with a dead man’s arm around him.”
“I thought he had three young girls, too?”
“Nobody cares about the women. Here, you got him now? We’re at the first step. Careful, careful!”
“I’m being careful! You’re moving too fast and I’m carrying all the weight!”
“Damn woman, his arm is hanging off. There can be no sign of a struggle, or I won’t get the pay. And I want that pay!”


I don’t really mind this one too much. I think it’s because it’s purely dialogue so I can’t see too much cringe-worthy writing like I usually find in my descriptive pieces. I’m unsure of how clear the scene that is unfolding is, and I wonder if anyone without the knowledge of Victorian post mortem photography would have any idea what I’m rambling about. If you’re curious about it yourself, I’d warn you away from searching it during the night…if I were a nicer person. Are you in the dark? Search it. Go on, I double dare ya! Mwahaha. Other than that I’d have probably worked on the woman’s personality a little more, the man’s outshines her – probably because of his lack of care and cheeky behaviour towards the corpse.

On a side note, this was an exercise from my undergrad and I’d recommend anyone with a bit of a writer’s block to have a bash at it. I took the idea of post mortem photography and whacked two riff raffs into the scene and this is what I came up with. You don’t need to worry about description or being too word-fancy, you can just have fun with it. At the same time, you might find a character or two you like and can build upon.

19 thoughts on “Pay Your Respects”

  1. Arbie, as soon as I started reading I was thinking – short play. Am excersise for drama students. Seriously. If Id had this with some of my students we could have had no amazing lesson. Maybe wrote it as a script wih stage directions. I’m telling you – brilliant

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh this made me laugh so much. When I read “we could have had no amazing lesson” and then “brilliant” I was so confused! Is this a riddle?! What are these mixed signals?! 😂 Don’t worry about it! I have no excuse for my typos, I’m just lazy when I’m on my phone! Thank you for your kind words. I never thought of seeing it as a play but love the idea! Play writing is so foreign to me, the mere idea of trying it terrifies me… guess I better give it a go then!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. 😃😂😂😂God, at least I made you laugh!
        Oh, do. I would be pleased to give it a read /opinion if you ever do.


  2. That, my dear, was flippin’ fantastic. Dialogue alone set the entire scene (I totally got what you were writing about too) and the characters popped into my head as I read. Great work, doll.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha it’s so true! “I’m going to the shop. ” “you’re going to the shop? ” “we need bread” “we’re out of bread? ” haha makes our conversations seem kinda pointless sometimes!! 💖

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have no idea how to reply to that comment! So hoping you get this! I mean I can’t complain, I get to use it as a device haha. That bit you picked out is the chap being a snarky bugger though, it’s why he goes on to wave his arm. He’s being sarcastic and asking a rhetorical question to wind up his lady friend, who doesn’t like the poor dead sod one bit! May people forever doubt what is being said to them so we may go on to use it in writing! 😂

        Liked by 1 person

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