Cindy dropped her chin to insulate her face from the bitter bite of Jack Frost. Her arms laden with tools, she ran into her workplace, Woodhaven Funeral Home. She opened the door and took a minute to bask in the strangely comforting atmosphere. The air was warm and the aroma of brewing coffee mingled with the fragrance of freshly cut flowers.

"Close the door," Mr. Robbins, the director of the funeral home, ordered. "We living folks still need to maintain a certain body temperature."

Cindy nodded apologetically and shut the door.

"Thanks, Doll, I have Ms. Baptist prepped and ready for her final make-over!"

Cindy gave a washed out smile to the quirky, little man while walking into the small room that served as her office.

A petite form lay hidden under a white sheet on the steel table. Cindy organized her make-up in preparation. She took her job very seriously, considering it a personal favor to the grieving and the dead. She took extra time in covering the blemishes death left behind and beautifying the features that birth bestowed. Her motto was ‘the beauty in make-up artistry is to make it look as though you aren’t wearing any’. She wanted to make sure the final memory left behind was one of beauty.

"Okay girl," Cindy gave herself an encouraging cheer. She pulled down the thin shroud to reveal a withered woman in her late seventies. Her frame appeared to be miniscule as if she were shrinking in modesty of her nude form. Her hands were clasped tightly and resting at her waist, each finger serving as a lock. A lock, that Cindy would have to open.

Cindy frowned as she attempted to separate her fragile hands. She pulled gingerly, so not to snap the fingers, but they seemed to be in a death grip. She exerted a little extra force and flinched as the digits parted. When the pruny palms separated a beautiful piece of Gossamer Silk fluttered to the floor. Cindy jumped back in surprise. She wondered why Mr. Robbins had not taken care of this during the embalming procedure.

Carefully she positioned Ms. Baptist’s arms across her chest and picked up the material. She noticed it wasn’t just a piece of silk, but a scarf, the most beautiful scarf she had ever seen. Among the dark and contrasting floral patterns were embedded golden threads. The intertwining threads shone brilliantly under the florescent lights. She could clearly see the illuminating symbol of a golden pentagram.

"Cindy, this is Ms. Baptist’s sister, Helena."

She dropped the scarf and turned to see Mr. Robbins standing inside the doorway with a woman, who had a commanding regal air. Her silver hair curled softly around her thin shoulders. Cindy quickly looked at the table then back to Helena. The resemblance to Ms. Baptist was striking.

She approached Cindy. "Where’s the scarf?" she spoke in a smooth, emotionless tone.

Cindy scooped the scarf from the concrete floor. "It’s right here."

Helena’s cold, dark eyes bulged as Cindy waved the silk cloth. "I don’t want to touch it! A touch of the scarf stains death on the soul." She shook her head in dismay as she studied the scarf from a safe distance. "It can’t be…it just cannot be. There’s no way that’s the same scarf, you ripped from my dead sister’s hands. Are you absolutely certain that’s the silk my sister was holding?"

"Yes," Cindy replied.

"That’s impossible, my sister’s scarf was," she paused to think, "dirty, and it was riddled with," again she paused trying to come up with a word, "holes!" she shouted as if she had the winning answer for a game show.

Her eyes sparkled in a forgotten misery as Cindy asked, "What would you have me do with it?"

"Burn it, burn every stitch. When you cremate Audrey’s corpse, you make certain that damned rag is in the flames with her."

Helena stormed out, leaving Mr. Robbins and Cindy scratching their heads.

"Let me see it." Mr. Robbins attempted to snatch the unwanted fabric.

She jerked back. "You’re not wearing rubber."

"Oh hell, Cindy, give it here, I’m not going to fuck it."

Cindy had a bad feeling that churned in the core of her gut and against her better judgment, she handed it over.

The undertaker folded the silky material into a triangle, placed it on his head, gave it a knot under his double chin, and danced about Cindy’s office. "Look at me, I’m a Russian immigrant." He batted his long eyelashes over his crystal blue eyes. "Do you like my new babushka?"

Cindy found this to be disturbing and demanded that he take it off. He laughed and tossed it down.

Cindy readied Ms. Baptist for her wake. As time passed, Cindy’s stomach grumbled, reminding her of lunch. She left her work of art, formally known as Ms. Baptist, and walked down the long corridor to Mr. Robbins’ office. "Hey, I’m going to 'Burger Barn'" There was no answer. She creaked open the office door and saw Mr. Robbins, reclined in his leather chair. His head drew forth the image of a rotten Jack-o-lantern; his facial features were disgustingly distorted, no longer human in appearance. She screamed and rushed to her office. She shoved her hands into a pair of latex gloves and picked up the frayed fragments of a filthy cloth. Bloody threads held it together. Cindy realized the importance of destroying the scarf. She knew the evil garment had been cursed, and it would leave a trail of innocent victims in its deadly wake.

That evening Cindy played funeral director for Audrey’s wake. When the last teary-eyed mourner left, she went to work. Cindy made sure the Devil’s hanky burned along with the body. She watched the scarf’s edges curl into the orange blaze as the red flames dined on the blackened flesh of Ms. Baptist. Their ashes mingled into one grey clump. When Cindy was satisfied every stitch had been desecrated, she closed the lid to the cremation chamber. She prayed the fire would kill the curse.

The days that unfolded were plagued by disturbing events at Woodhaven. The staff tried to conduct business as usual; however, the tension inside the funeral home had festered. In the absence of Mr. Robbins, the workers had become sloppy with the exception of Cindy. Later that week, a body was waiting for her with an un-removed toe tag, which read, 'Helena Ann Baptist'. Cindy felt her heart palpitate as she inched away the sheet. She unleashed a sigh of relief when she found Helena's hands unoccupied. No scarf, natural causes, Cindy thought, and with a lighter heart, she began her work. Laughing at herself for allowing the crazy notion, of a scarf surviving the scorching heat of the fire, to enter her troubled mind.

As she brushed and lined the contours of Mrs. Baptist, she noticed something in her mouth. Cindy reached into the toothless hole, in order to free the obstruction. To her horror, she pulled out an unscathed, shimmering Gossamer Scarf. In her panic, she threw the silk into the air. She observed, in slow motion and unable to move, as the Devil’s hanky softly danced down onto her sleeveless forearm. The golden pentagram glowed under the bright lights and Cindy knew her days were numbered. Helena’s tortured words clawed at her psyche, "A touch of the scarf stains death on the soul." The curse is spreading.

"The Corpse Painter and The Devil's Hanky"
Copyright: © 2010 Donna Jean Lyons and Stacy Bolli

Stacy and Donna Jean were drawn together by the powers of darkness. This cosmic connection could not be explained. However, they knew, between their twisted minds, they could unite as one and together they weaved a macabre tapestry of depraved words and horrific mental images. Allow yourself to feast on their linguistic offspring.

Stacy is a married mother to three amazing children and hails from the sun-soaked state of Florida.


  1. Wicked girls! Absolutely wicked! Look forward to hearing more of you Donna! Stacy, it is a pleasure as always my love! Great work! I never want to look at a scarf again!

  2. Damn! Great story ladies! Loved it!