three dreams, five women
by greensilver

Crowds of people drift in and out of the funeral home. Most don't stay long; they sign the book, clasp hands with Tara and Denny, mutter something over his coffin. Being dead is, it turns out, an excellent all-purpose rejoinder; evidently last-minute witticisms lose that special zing when flung at a faintly smirking corpse.

Sally stops by late in the day and lurks in the back of the room looking confused and overwrought, which is unfortunate, Sally not being a woman on whom 'overwrought' is particularly attractive. After awhile Denny steers her up to the coffin, one hand planted suspiciously low on her back.

She stares into the coffin for a few moments in silence - understandable, of course; even dead, he's strikingly good-looking.

"Alan hated that tie," she says. That's all she says. The lack of tearful pleas for his timely resurrection and the absence of a heaving bosom are rather unseemly and constitute, one in conjunction with the other, yet another reason 'Sally and Alan' would never have worked.

Tara's voice lifts above the low hum of wholly insincere mourners: "I bought Alan that tie."

A knock-down, drag-out catfight would be the icing on the 'Alan Shore is dead' cake. His corpse doesn't quite look smug, but it's a near thing.

"I know," Sally says. Denny's hand slides a little lower, perhaps taking advantage of her momentary distraction. "He hated it."

"I know he did." Tara steps forward; for a woman in mourning, she looks absolutely ravishable. "That's why he's going to be buried in it."

Sally looks appalled; Denny just smiles - the indulgent, semi-predatory sort of smile that's uniquely Denny Crane - and gives Sally a push away from the coffin, leading her toward the door.

"I'm going to take Sally home," he says to Tara. "I'll see you at the funeral."

Alan's corpse is a singularly boring host and Tara v. Sally 2004 has been taken off of the marquee; thus, most of the assembled depart, leaving Tara alone in the room.

She studies the coffin for a few moments, much as Sally did.

"If you think I'm going to kiss your corpse, you're crazy," she says, and leaves - off to find a bar, knock a few back and hit on loose-looking women, in memoriam, Alan Shore.


"I've been dreaming about it." Alan slouched down a bit, his tie bunching up over his belt buckle - the same hideous tie that had been popping in and out of his subconscious as of late. He fumbled with the ends of the tie, watching snow form into little drifts on the balcony. "Ever since."

Denny refilled his tumbler of cognac, holding the bottle out to Alan as an afterthought. "Liza?"

"A funeral home. A viewing," Alan said, tugging at the tie. Denny waved the bottle in Alan`s direction one more time before setting it on the floor between them, cap off. "Open casket."

"Lots of sobbing women?"

"There haven't actually been any sobbing women yet, but I'm holding out for the funeral." Alan's fingers slid up the jarringly green expanse of tie until he encountered the knot at his throat; he yanked at it impatiently, like a kid wearing a real suit for the first time.

"How many do I sleep with?"

The knot loosened - just a little, not enough; Alan plucked at the tie in silence until the thing was just an oddly shaped strip of silk around his neck, no longer obstructing his airway. "Last night you went home with Sally."

"Really?" Denny rolled his glass between his hands, clearly giving the matter all due consideration. "Sally and who else?"

"I'm dead, Denny. Sally isn't good enough?" One tug and the tie slid free of his collar to pool on his lap, the color no less offensive by comparison to black pants than it had been over a white shirt.

"You're damned right it isn't good enough," Denny said. "If you`re dead, I want to take home at least two women every time you have this dream."

Alan balled the tie up in one hand, wondering how much he'd have to pay Tara to avoid being buried in it.


The funeral is a quiet, somber affair, due largely to the emptiness of the pews. The altar, the aisles and his casket are edged with enormous pots and vases of huge white flowers, and the church reeks of overripe flora poised on the verge of decay. The sermon is punctuated with the muffled sounds of Brad's allergies spiking; each time he sneezes, Tara smirks at the coffin.

Sally doesn't come to the funeral - neither does Edwin Poole. Denny more than makes up for their lack by bringing along not one, not two, but three scandalously clad women with tear-stained handkerchiefs and heaving bosoms fully up to spec.

When the sermon ends, Brad sneezes in lieu of an "amen."

A handful of Crane, Poole & Schmidt lawyers Alan never spent much time with act as pallbearers. An aging woman with an aging dye job pounds out a rather melodramatic-sounding hymn on the organ. Alan Shore's motley crew of mourners pile into cars to make their way to the cemetery or the local bar, depending.

The parking lot empties out save Lori, sitting behind the wheel of her Volvo without putting the key in the ignition.

Brad, trusty co-pilot and observer of the obvious extraordinaire, eventually points out: "Everyone else has left, Lori. Are you okay?"

"Alan is dead, Brad," she says. "Someone walked into our offices and shot him, and tomorrow we both have to go back there as though nothing happened. I'm doing just fine."

Perhaps to spare Brad and his grape-sized IQ the agony of coming up with a response to that, Lori kisses him.


"Three women?" Denny looked satisfied - as though he, and not Alan's subconscious, had scared up three hot women to take to a funeral. "And they cried?"

"They cried beautifully, Denny." Alan's hands were shaking; the last remaining drops of vodka danced around on the bottom of his glass, their incoherent patterns mocking his steady voice and calm expression. Being dead every night had begun to lose its novelty. "It was a lovely funeral."

"When I die, I want you to bring lots of women to the funeral."

Alan's response was automatic. "You're not going to die any time soon, Denny."

"Of course I'm not. But when I go, you'd damned well better get laid at least once." Denny leaned his head back to stare out at the night sky, just barely visible through the iced-over balcony doors. If Alan didn't know Denny better, he would've thought that the man was having deep thoughts of some kind - but Denny had once said that nine out of ten of his 'having a deep thought' expressions were actually 'picturing someone naked' expressions. Alan guessed that this was one of those times.

Alan squinted at the stars, attempting to picture Tara naked. Instead he pictured Tara brawling with Sally at the funeral home, smirking at Brad in the church. In both scenarios, she had a distressing amount of clothing on.

"I dreamed about Lori and Brad having sex in a Volvo," he said, because he'd had enough of picturing Tara in his own post-mortem period and he wasn't in any mood to plan Denny's funeral.

"I've never had sex in a Volvo," Denny said.

"Maybe tonight I'll dream about the burial," Alan said, "and someone will have sex in a Pinto."

"Something to look forward to."

"I'm an optimist." Snow had begun to fall again, obscuring the skyline. Alan fumbled for the bottle of vodka and refilled his glass, all the way to the top; Alan Shore optimism came in discrete units, one glass at a time.

"Five women," Denny said.

Alan paused. "I don't follow."

"Five women," Denny said again. "For the cemetery. One for the viewing, three for the funeral, five for the burial."

"You're fond of prime numbers?"

"I'm fond of women."

The vodka glass tipped up, up, just enough to splash liquor across Alan's bottom lip as he studied Denny over the rim. "I die and Denny Crane gets five women in a cemetery."

"You wouldn't have died in vain, my friend," Denny said. "Five women."

Alan almost smiled. "Five women," he said. "I'll keep that in mind."


Author's Note: Written for Carolyn in the Yuletide 2004 challenge.
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