When a woeful sybarite takes control of the funeral parlor, staff align in self-defense.
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Unapologetic Lives Series
Genre: Gonzo Mortuary Revenge Fiction
Date of Publication: May 9, 2019
Ebook: 196 pages
Publisher: Out of My Head Publishing
E-Book ISBN: 9781999089306
Paperback: ISBN: 9781999089313
Word Count: 49,184
Formats Available: Electronic, Paperback
Cover Design: Jennifer Quinlan
Original Drawing: Lora Avgeris
Aging managing director Charlie Forsythe begins his work day with a phone call to Jocasta Binns, the unacknowledged illegitimate daughter of Weibigand Brothers Funeral Home founder Karl-Heinz Sr. Alma Wurtz, a scooter-bound sextenarian, community activist, and neighborhood pain in the ass is emptying her urine into the flower beds, killing the petunias. Jocasta shuts him down. A staff meeting has been called and things are about to change.
The second novel in the UNAPOLOGETIC LIVES series, SCOOTER NATION takes place two years after HEUER LOST AND FOUND. This time, funeral directors Scooter Creighton and Carla Moretto Salinger Blue take center stage as they battle conflicting values, draconian city by-laws, a mendacious neighborhood gang, and a self-absorbed fitness guru whose presence shines an unwanted light on their quiet Toronto neighborhood.
Winner of numerous indie and digital book awards, A. B. Funkhauser’s work has been described by American Funeral Director Magazine as “take-no-prisoners.”
From The Prairies Book Review
SCOOTER NATION is the second in the UNAPOLOGETIC LIVES series
The old humpback with the cloudy eye and Orwellian proletarian attitude pushed past the young embalmer with a curt “Entschuldigen Sie bitte!—Excuse me!” That Charles E. Forsythe, bespectacled and too tall for his own good, didn’t speak a word of German was incidental. The man grunting at him, or, more accurately, through him was Weibigand senior embalmer Heino Schade, who’d been gossiped about often enough at Charlie’s previous place of employ: “Weibigand’s,” the hairdresser winked knowingly, “is like a Stalag. God only knows where the lampshades come from.”
Whether she was referring to Schade specifically or the Weibigand’s generally didn’t matter. What he gleaned from the talk and what he took with him when he left to go work for them was that he was not expected to understand, only to follow orders.
Schade, muttering over a cosmetic pot that wouldn’t open, suddenly tossed it; the airborne projectile missing Charlie’s black curls by inches. Jumping out of the way, he wondered what to do next.
Newly arrived from Seltenheit and Sons, his new master’s most capricious competitor, expectations that he perform beyond the norm were high. Trading tit for tat, his old boss Hartmut Fläche had fought and lost battles with Karl Heinz Senior since 1937, and wasn’t about to abandon the bad feeling, even as he approached his ninetieth year. That his star apprentice had left under a tenacious cloud to go work for the enemy would no doubt hasten old Harty’s resolve to plot every last Weibigand into the ground before he got there first.
It was incumbent upon Charlie, therefore, to dish some dirt hopefully juicy enough to shutter Seltenheit and Son’s for good.
Stories of the two funeral directors’ acrimony were legend: late night calls to G-men during the war asserting that Weibigand was a Nazi; anonymous reports to the Board of Mortuary Science that Fläche reused caskets; hints at felonious gambling; price-fixing; liquor-making; tax evading; wife swapping; cross dressing; pet embalming; covert sausage making; smokehouses; whore houses; Commie-loving; Semite-hating; and drug using sexual merry-making of an unwholesomeness so heinous as to not be spoken of, but merely communicated through raised eyebrows, was just a scratch.
Ducking under the low rise water pipes that bisected Weibigand’s ceiling in the lower service hall, Charlie shuddered with the thought of retributive action, if only because old men were scary and he was still young. At twenty, he had finished his requisite course requirements, albeit at an advanced age. A lot of the guys were finishing at seventeen, only to be packed off to Vietnam. But Charlie had been delayed by way of the family pig farm which in many ways, could save his hide in a pinch. As the eldest male in a houseful of women, running the farm made him essential if the Draft ever became an issue. It hadn’t so far—he was too old, the 1950 and up birthdates pulled by lot would never include his. Yet he was haunted by the prospect of a violent end.
His mother—a gentle soul who knew the Old Testament chapter and verse—never missed an opportunity to discourage his dreams for a life in the city. This only aggravated matters. He was different, and he knew it. For that reason he had to leave.
“You’ll wind up in hell if you try,” she said fondly, every time he negotiated the subject. In the end, it was a kick in the ass from the toothless old neighbor that sent him running far and fast off the front porch: “Yer not like the others, are ya sweetie?”
“Don’t expect an easy time from the Missus,” Heino Schade said offhandedly from his vantage over a pasty deceased.
“Mrs. Weibigand?” Charlie asked, noting that the old man used Madame Dubarry commercial cosmetic in place of the heavy pancake Seltenheit’s favored.
“You assisted her out of a particularly difficult situation. She will expect more as a show of your constant devotion.” He knocked his glass eye back into place with a long spring forceps.
Charlie understood. He hadn’t expected a call from the Lodge that infamous night, but then, it wasn’t everyday that a good friend of the Potentate was found dead in a hotel room under a hooker.
“In flagrante delicto,” Schade continued ominously in what appeared to be Latin.
“Indeed,” Charlie said, faking a working knowledge of the dead language; the unfamiliar term, he guessed, having more to do with what Karl Heinz Weibigand was doing with a woman in a seedy hotel room, than his desire to ask Schade how he made his dead look so dewy.
 For a detailed history of the Weibigand-Seltenheit Wars, please see Poor Undertaker.
AUTHOR Q & A WITH FREDERICK H. CROOK
You have a lot of bright, funny characters. Are they based on anyone you know, or are they bits and pieces of several people? If so, do they know about it?
I’ve said more than once that behind every fiction there’s a fact or two. I think my characters began as personal observations made either by me or by others over the last three decades. Things I’ve read in the news, places where I’ve worked, associations that I’ve belonged to gave rise to thoughts and feelings looking for a place to land. That’s where the characters emerged. They provided the voice; the novel: a place to hang them on.
Besides being an author, you’re a funeral director. Do you find that helping others deal with their grief emotionally stressful? Is writing a way to deal with that?
I’m human so I felt it from time to time. But I never forgot what I learned in mortuary school: that the primary goal of the director is to be empathetic above all else, and to not bring the work home with me at the end of the day. A director is many things—artist, planner, communicator, and, most importantly, listener. When I was at work, the grieving family always came first. But when I went home, my own family took precedence. It’s a balancing act that I worked very hard at maintaining. And it worked. That’s how I did the job for so many years.
Writing, like funeral directing, was another calling that I had to follow. I carry stories from my life growing up in Scarborough (Ontario), from working in youth politics and later at the Legislature, and then four years with the auto lobby. Good times, rich with all kinds of mirthful fiction. I saw novel writing as a way of preserving some of this history. I’ve had a ball revisiting those times!
So, “Scooter Nation” is said to be book two in the “Unapologetic Lives” series. Tell us more about that. Will the same characters be featured?
Unapologetic lives and all that they imply came from two sources: some of the amazing people I’ve met over the years and the off planet writing of Hunter S. Thompson. Both sources keyed me in to the idea that messaging in novel writing can be strengthened if the characters operate without filters. That is, they are not governed by a societal rulebook of any kind. In reality, such a model would be disastrous—we’d be barricaded behind our locked doors if everyone said and did what they pleased. But in a world where this does not happen, where the sun rises the next day and our skins remain intact, the unapologetic get heard, often with comic results.
I’m working on my fifth manuscript now, so I can tell you that some characters come back either as living breathing people, or as memories to chew over in conversation. Others live on in portraits; one loses her earthly body to the grave, but lives on in essence inside a floor lamp. The joy of this series is that each book is stand alone, giving me the freedom to write non-sequentially. So a character that dies in 2017 at the end of book two is born in 1947 in chapter one of book four. This works for me because it keeps me interested, and it also allows me to comb over 20th century history, which is a favorite of mine.
Do you have any plans of writing something in another genre?
Anything can happen. I never sit down with an idea that I’m going to consciously write a romance or a paranormal or a horror/thriller. The characters decide that as the story unfolds. I love being surprised by what they do.
What are your overall writing goals? Would you like to see your books on the big screen?
I have a muse and that muse is incredibly strong. I’ve long believed that such a thing can’t last forever, that I might wake up one morning and it will be gone. So my goal is to get the stories down as fast as I can. Once I’ve said all that I need to say, then I can luxuriate over the edits and make the stories richer, fuller. That’s the real joy for me. Whatever becomes of my stories I’ll leave to history. But you know what? In getting them out there I know they’ll be there forever. We have the digital age to thank for that. I thank it every day!
Frederick H. Crook is a visionary author dedicated to exploring the what ifs of existence through sci fi and speculative fiction. Find him here: http://frederickcrook.wix.com/crooksbooks
PRAISE FOR SCOOTER NATION
“Funky, gonzo, hilarious, brilliant.” – Marissa Campbell, author of AVELYNN
“Compelling, hypnotic, deliciously entertaining.” – Connie DiPietro, First 7, BROOKLIN SEVEN WC
“Irreverent, hilarious, and heartbreaking.” – G.L. Morgan, author, consigliere
“I’m still a bit shocked by how much fun the book turned out to be.”
– Majanka Verstraete @iheartreads
“…writes with a take-no-prisoners style of prose.”
– Steve Cronin, AMERICAN FUNERAL DIRECTOR MAGAZINE
“Funkhauser digs down deep into each character and shatters the lines of morality, showing us the darkness and light within all of them…”
-Angela D’Onofrio, Author FROM THE DESK OF BUSTER HEYWOOD
“Scooter Nation is different from anything you’ve ever read. It’s also well worth the price of admission into A.B.’s mind.”
-Dorothea Helms, “The Writing Fairy,”Award-winning International Writer
“…the lives of Charlie Forsythe and Scooter Creighton and the rest involve us not only in entertaining capers but in deep and meaningful emotions as well.”
-Carl Brush, Author BONITA
The closed world of a funeral director is rarely glimpsed owing to the strictures of confidentiality scrupulously maintained by industry professionals. In SCOOTER NATION, the second novel in A.B. Funkhauser’s Unapologetic Lives Series, confidentiality, or more keenly the silence naturalized by a desire to protect the privacy of others, leads to inflated misunderstandings underpinned by a culture of myth and lore. What follows are a chain of events both comic and chilling.
Krause looked like she was going to cry: “Don’t you knobs get it? We’ve been sold to the Flexor Group. I just know it.”
Carla stiffened. “What did you see? Who did you see?”
The death business was a small, closed community with few strangers. Everybody knew everyone else and their business too.
“I only saw their feet,” Enid replied. “Black shoes. Square toes.” Her face whitened. “Loafers!”
Scooter Creighton dropped his lighter. “Are you sure? No mistake?”
“No mistake. I was wearing my bifocals. There can only be one person behind this.”
The ancient intercom on the garage wall crackled to life. Jocasta Binns had found them: “Put the damned cigarettes out. Meeting starts NOW.”
Scooter Creighton nodded meaningfully at his companions. The rude bitch was clearly on a roll. Like most funeral homes that hadn’t caught up to the twenty-first century, Weibigand’s had a front door equipped with a tinny doorbell that sounded whenever the door swung open. More modern establishments employed greeters or hostesses that manned large semi-circular hotel-lobby like desks for a more personal touch. But Weibigand’s, experiencing a steady decline in business year over year, lacked funds to pay for such a person. So the bell, on duty since the 1930s, was the only way to know that someone had come in. It had not sounded.
“Jocasta turned the bell off!” Enid shouted. “Why the hell would she turn the bell off?”
There were only two possible explanations: Either some non-staffer had been assigned to stand watch at the door and had shut the bell off, or the doors were being locked and the bell wasn’t needed.
“My god,” Carla gasped, thinking of the square-toed, black leather shoes that, beyond any doubt, now stalked the hall above. Though there were many, only a single pair held any relevance.
Every profession had its own share of false gods and banal superstitions. Those, carried forth on a wave of feverish gossip backed by assertions that everything said was ‘true’, gave rise to fantastic mythologies that made a chosen few more significant than they actually were. Graeham Grissom of B.H. Hoage, for example, was the undisputed embalming god of their age while “Count Floyd” Aiken could ‘will’ new business into being with a stroke of a pen. That old age, arthritis, early-onset dementia and the public’s annoying preference for cremation over medieval embalming procedures decreased the field of competitors, and so guaranteed Graeham’s mantle in the first instance, had nothing to do with the stories spread: he made esoteric concoctions in the old Hoage basement that rendered his people ‘pliable’ ‘natural-like’ ‘soft to the touch’ and even ‘warmer’ without the slightest sign of decay, even after a fifty-four day hold. The same held for Count Floyd. No one could turn a prearranged funeral into an ‘at need’ simply by sending a get better card, yet Floyd’s people did die suddenly whenever he did, whether sick or not. That the deceased had crossed the century mark in every case had little to do with a great tale.
But there were other stories out there: stories not so benign and infinitely more sinister. Some, it was said, enriched themselves through the weak willed. These were the mendacious pocket-liners who evaded the law and curried favor with popular opinion regardless of talk.
These were the ones to watch…
The little group assembled in the Weibigand garage knew that fear and felt it now because it was right on top of their heads. Scooter Creighton, jaws clenched, ground the words out first, like a metal vise in need of oil: “It’s Clayton. He is in the building.”
About the Author
Toronto born author A.B. Funkhauser is a funeral director, classic car nut and wildlife enthusiast living in Ontario, Canada. Like most funeral directors, she is governed by a strong sense of altruism fueled by the belief that life chooses us.
Her debut novel Heuer Lost and Found, released in April 2015, examines the day to day workings of a funeral home and the people who staff it. Winner of the Preditors & Editors Reader’s Poll for Best Horror 2015, and the New Apple EBook Award 2016 for Horror, Heuer Lost and Found is the first installment in Funkhauser’s Unapologetic Lives series. Her sophomore effort, Scooter Nation, released March 2016. Winner of the New Apple Ebook Award 2016 for Humor, and Winner Best Humor Summer Indie Book Awards 2016, Scooter picks up where Heuer left off, this time with the lens on the funeral home as it falls into the hands of a woeful sybarite.
A devotee of the gonzo style pioneered by the late Hunter S. Thompson, Funkhauser attempts to shine a light on difficult subjects by aid of humorous storytelling. “In gonzo, characters operate without filters which means they say and do the kinds of things we cannot in an ordered society. Results are often comic but, hopefully, instructive.”
Shell Game, tapped as a psycho-social cat dramedy with death and laughs, is the third book in the series, and takes aim at a pastoral community with a lot to hide. “With so much of the world currently up for debate, I thought it would be useful to question—again—the motives and machinations championed by the morally flexible, and then let the arbiter be a cat.”
Funkhauser is currently working on Poor Undertaker, the prequel to Scooter Nation and Self-Defense, the first book in her Kirsti Brüner Mortuary Mysteries series.
Scooter Nation, the second edition (2019) released through Out of My Head Publishing.
Scooter Page: https://abfunkhauser.com/wip-scooter-nation/
Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/author/abfunkhauser
Interview Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2yhaXfh-ns
Interview Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoPthI1Hvmo