It was a banner day for Peterstown; two funerals in one day. A somber day for certain, but unlike the various fairs and festivals the town held, this was an event that couldn’t be missed. The townsfolk came out one and all in their Sunday’s best. They stood along the edges of the cemetery on their toes trying to get a look at the dual congregations. Only the families were allowed to actually enter and take part in the grieving, which was fine with the townsfolk, not a single one would dare try to edge closer regardless. They didn’t want their funeral to be next.
The mourners gathered in their respective groups, both near the center of the cemetery. If you’d ask one of the funeral guests they’d most likely tell you that the plot they stood around was at the center while the other was just a little off center.
At the entrance of the hallowed ground were two signs. On the right side of the small drive a one of them read “Peterson Funeral, family only” the other sign, on the opposite side of the road, read “Petersen Funeral, family only”. The rest of the graveyard pretty much aligned itself with the signs. No one knows when exactly, but one day, many years ago, the two dead men began buying plots until each one owned a side.
A priest stood at the head of each group. The one assigned to the Peterson family began with the usual prayers. He was a quiet man by nature but at the behest of the family he spoke loudly. The onlookers would joke about hearing a man of the cloth scream out holy words. The only time he stopped was when the Petersen priest began his message. He had help from a microphone. This too, gave birth to it’s fair share of jokes.
The priests finished, after a few false endings, seeing as each one was instructed to make sure their “amen” was the last one anyone in earshot heard. The winner was never confirmed. Behind the Petersen’s priest was a large object covered in a black cloth. When the cloak was removed, cousins, brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles alike all gasped at the beautiful statue of their dearly beloved. A hushed clatter rose among the family and the onlookers. It truly was a work of art. It could’ve been the man himself, only frozen in stone. Once the talking died down, the red velvet covering the statue behind the Peterson funeral was pulled down. One of the spectators described it as such: “It’s like that man dipped himself in bronze and dabbed his eyes with sunlight.”
What happened next, was what everyone was hoping for, or at least expected. Some say it was Jimmy Peterson, other’s say it was Ephraim Petersen. Still, some say it was one of the deceased hoping to stoke up one last scuffle before they took the final ride. But out of the midst of the two groups:
“Beautiful day, ‘cept for those damn Petersons/Petersens.”
Expletives were thrown. Screams rose into the air. Bodies clashed, and the lone doctor in town began to mentally prepare for the visits he was going to be receiving. In fact, most of the towns economy relied on the continuous fighting between the two families. The tavern owners lined their pockets with money spent on liquid courage. The grocers paid their bills with money spent on massive amounts of food destined for competing banquets. The bank vaults were filled with various payouts from bets and the local dentist kept both families files in a separate, easy to access cabinet.
The melee spilled out over long passed family members. The pretty ruffles on the women’s dresses were torn. The suits were soon covered in mud and blood. But out of the scuffle two emerged. Both in black veils. The widows Peterson/Petersen walked slowly. Like soldiers, they didn’t even acknowledge the fighting happening around them. They found themselves in one of the few quiet corners of the cemetery.
“It’s funny, this town isn’t named after either of them.”
“Oh I know, I looked it up years ago, fur trader named Peter actually.”
“Yep, that’s what I read. I didn’t have the heart to tell him though.”
“Me neither. Don’t think it’d matter anyways. Those two loved the charade.”
“Almost as much as they loved each other.”
“When’d you find out?”
“‘82, state fair. Caught them just behind the horse stables. Going for a ride.”
“Oh, my. I found them during the hunting season of 1988, didn’t think that tree stand was going to survive all that shaking.”
“What’d you think would happen if they all knew the truth?”
“Oh, they wouldn’t believe us if we tried.”
I just wanted to say that I had more fun writing this than I have my other stuff in awhile. I’d love to hear what you think of it. blah blah leave a comment blah blah follow me on twitter blah blah @cadottej blah blah.