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From Frank Kruk by Petras Cvirka


FRANK thought, and the cigar he was chewing disappeared entirely within his mouth. Frank, how many people, how much life, and how much pointless wandering! Oh, if only it was possible to arrange everything more intelligently, in an undertaker’s way; to lay all of those on foot, all those driving—all Brooklynites—into coffins, into your coffins! What a great business! There wouldn’t be enough large, green forests for the coffin boards! Not all of the gardens, yards, and greenhouses where flowers grew would be enough to decorate a million coffins. And if for each dear departed he got just five dollars! Count it up, Frank, with your fingers, since you don’t know how to otherwise. Add, subtract, multiply!

     It would be a beautiful sight: In Brooklyn, where life bustled—the last echoes of the bell for the last departed would fly through emptied avenues and strytai, through open windows, silent hotel lobbies, offices, and the dead city. The clattering of Frank’s carriage, the slow pace of the funeral procession, would be the last march of mourning the frozen buildings, parks, gardens, and squares would hear. The undertaker Frank, in a black tuxedo and white gloves, with his undertaker’s duties done, would say: “Šiur, I’ve worked quite a bit; now I can return to my homeland to rest.”

     Who knows, maybe in a thousand years life would return here, from a single couple; from an Adam and Eve, a Cain and Abel would once again grow up—barkeepers, storekeepers, speculators, bankers; but they would need an undertaker all the same. And if they had even a drop of gratitude, they would build a monument to Frank, the last undertaker of Brooklyn, a large one in the shape of a flying coffin, on whose base there should be engraved in gold letters: He buried economically, quickly, cleanly. He would arrive with a coffin anywhere in Brooklyn in five minutes.

     Oh, dreams, the colorful little daydreams of an undertaker! All he wanted was to bury people!

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