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There once was a dead little boy. And he was very dead. In fact, he was so dead his parents wondered if he was even alive.
Anxious as to his health, the parents of the dead little boy rushed him to the home of an old family friend, a retired physician.
“Ahh, this could be tricky...” he said, examining the dead little boy. “Very difficult to say, difficult to diagnose...”
The dead little boy's parents left the old man to his work. Hours later, he emerged from his study looking grim.
“I'm sorry,” he said sadly. “But it appears that your little boy may be dead.”
Dead? The word hung on the air like a poisonous vapor. Shattered, the dead little boy's parents lugged him outside to their car and drove home.
Unsure of how to proceed, the dead little boy's parents contacted the local pastor by phone.
“What do you mean, he may be dead?” he exclaimed.
“That's what the doctor said.”
“Well, I suppose the thing to do is to have a funeral. That's what usually happens with dead people.” The pastor paused. “You do have a death certificate, right?”
A stunned silence. “A Death Certificate?”
“Yes, didn't the doctor give you one?”
“He wasn't a practicing doctor. Just an old friend. And anyway, he couldn't say for certain if our little boy was dead! Our poor little boy...”
The pastor cleared his throat. Parents of the deceased were always so bothersome. “Have faith. Your little boy may survive after all. But it's best to be prepared.”
“But...But what do we do?”
This was getting tiresome. Summoning patience, the pastor said, “See your lawyer about a death certificate. Just in case. I hate it when we bury people and it turns out they're not even dead. Quite difficult to shut them up.”
A horrified silence remained on the other end of the line. The pastor sighed. “Good luck, God bless you,” he said, rolling his eyes. He hung up. “Mourning parents are so boring”, he mumbled to himself. “All they do is cry, cry, cry...”
Crushed, the parents of the dead little boy did not know where to turn. “A death certificate? But that's so final! So dead!” They sat together in the darkness with their dead little boy and cried.
One week later, the dead little boy had still showed no signs of life- and his complexion was quite unpleasant. When they could wait no longer, the dead little boy's parents decided to visit their lawyer. It was time to prepare for the worst.
Later that day, they traveled with their dead little boy to the law offices of Schaden and Freude. Their lawyer, Mr. Schaden, sat calmly behind his desk and gazed at the dead little boy over his spectacles.
“Well, well, well...he really is in a bad way, isn't he? I've never seen quite that shade of green before,” he remarked casually, giving a sharp-toothed grin. “How did this happen?”
The parents of the dead little boy, still reeling from the man's carefree attitude, were unable to respond.
The lawyer sighed impatiently. “I see. Of course, I see this quite often. What we have here is a common death case, characterized by an extreme absence of life.” Shushing the weak interruptions staged by the dead little boy's parents, he rushed on. “I know, I know, it was completely unexpected, he just stopped breathing all at once and became dead. It happens. The trouble is, it's not legal without a death certificate. He is not legally dead.”
The parents of the dead little boy finally found their voices. “So there's hope after all! He's not dead unless he has a death certificate!”
The lawyer hesitated. People could be so dense. But clients were money. And money was money. “Of course. So now you get to visit my nice doctor friends at the hospital. It's not far. I'll call to let them know you're coming.”
And so the dead little boy was taken at last to the hospital, to a real doctor. The doctor ushered them in right away; death cases were his specialty.
“Ahhhh, so this is the dead little boy...at last.”
“Oh, don't say that!” The parents embraced eachother fearfully.
The doctor sighed. Amateurs. Not used to the death of family. “Oh, all right, I'll run some tests and let you know.”
The dead little boy's parents waited outside the room for several hours. They watched as many doctors and nurses and technicians hurried in and out with outlandish pieces of equipment. Finally, the doctor emerged, looking mildly amused.
“I'm sorry,” he said unapologetically through his chewing gum. But preliminary test results indicate that your little boy may be dead.” He paused for effect. “In fact, he IS dead!”
Emotionally destroyed, the parents of the dead little boy had to be carried out into the waiting room. Clutching desperately at eachother, all they could do was murmur softly, “Our dear little boy! It was so...unexpected!”
There was a funeral. Seven days later, the dead little boy lay, professionally gutted, in a fitted wooden box. Some people came to look at him. Some people cried. Then they all separated and went about their business, walked away, leaving the dead little boy under a pile of dirt.