By Nate Odenkirk | Staff Writer
Hi, um, hello everybody. Thank you. I’ll try to speak loud because I’ve been in back all night and I swear the mic has been on-and-off this whole time. Can you hear me? Come on people, I need nods or shakes. Okay, there they are…good, okay, well…Lawrence Freeman…first off, show of hands, who knew him? Just about everyone here, ‘makes sense. Well, me too. I knew him. But the Lawrence I knew was a little different from the “Larry” you all did…you see, I only met Lawrence five days ago when his cold remains were wheeled in to the back entrance of the morgue. You see, I was…I am, Lawrence’s mortician.
While many of you were introduced to him as Lawrence, or Larry, or, “Big Man”—from the get-go I simply called him Cadaver #4458B. That was my little nickname for him—and right off the bat, we got along quite well. Lawrence, as you’ve exhaustively shared, lived a long, full life, eventually succumbing to lung cancer at the age of 88. Many of you have characterized the living Lawrence as a man who “lit up the room” with his presence. You described him as social, loud, always cracking jokes. Today, I want to share another side of “the Big Man”, the Lawrence only a select few, me, actually, got to know.
When I was with him, he was always very quiet. No long talk, no silly jokes, just a steady, calm, presence. (chuckles) I remember the autopsy like it was yesterday…me, cutting and slicing, logging the necessary details, Lawrence laying back, letting it happen. Carefree, almost. And very, very, still. He was, as his nickname suggested, a “big man.” Funny story, I had to examine his teeth, you know, count them, and Lawrence, turns out, has three fake teeth. Which was not disclosed to me, so, that was a surprise. I can see a lot of you are as shocked as I was. Point is, Larry pulled one over on me with the teeth, and I loved it. But a little tip, for the rest of you who don’t have Larry’s panache, try and be more accurate on the dental records. Lawrence could pull off a gag like that, you…after hearing today’s speeches…don’t count on it.
Some of you described him as a generous man. Newsflash, he was not, in fact, an organ donor. And that’s okay. I still love him and the time we spent together. But, you know, what he lacked in character he made up for in physical attributes. For 88 years old, Lawrence was in acceptable physical shape given his condition. I think of his brown, steady, eyes, his greying, still-growing, hair, his size 9 feet – with one toe crooked on each foot, and, of course, the topper, he was male. Of that, I can assure you. Put that issue to bed. These are all great qualities in Lawrence that will be sorely missed.
I’ve heard a lot of talk about Larry carousing and laughing and living, but to me he will always be dead. And, I guess, to all of you, from now on. Forever.
What will his legacy be? Will it be the mole on his inner right thigh, shaped somewhat like Delaware? How about his unique smile—not really happy, not really sad, he beat the Mona Lisa at her own game! FYI, she’s dead, too. But for me, it has to be his height and supine-predisposition. He was always, and I mean always, laying down, on his back. I’m happy to share my unique friendship with this oh-so-distinctive friend.
And now, as is tradition, I would like to say a few words to the corpse. So everyone, please cover your ears – except for you, Larry! Just kidding. Everyone else, really…don’t listen.
Larry, thank you for your unwavering stiffness, your steadfast lassitude, and your commitment to rigor mortis. For the last four days we have been thick as thieves, you were my partner in crime, my rock, my paper-weight, and my lode-star, you surprised me with those fake chompers—I’m gonna get ya back someday, and you were always there for me, right where I left you. I may have known you last, but I surely knew you best.
Goodnight everyone, you know, you can clap at these things…no? ♦
Artwork by @ninalikestopaint