I heard about a business in Yuba City which offers the sportsman in your life a very special postmortem service. For what I imagined would be a substantial fee, this business takes some of the ashes from your beloved hunter’s cremated body, mixes them with some sort of thickening agent, packs the resulting wad into a shotgun shell, and blows said wad through the recently deceased’s favorite species of fowl.
I had to know more. It was a hard rumor to track, but eventually I got a name: Enrique, who was in charge of something called “Out With a Bang.”
I called Enrique’s number, hoping to get some basic information about the company: mission statement, history, plans for the future, franchise options, etc. As the phone rang, I designed an imaginary brochure for Enrique’s little venture. The company logo would be a terrified mallard mid-flight, pursued by a bullet in the shape of a coffin. Then the copy: “Need a gift for the dead outdoorsman in your life? Is there a mortally-ill hunter on your Christmas list who is simply impossible to shop for? Well, look no further than Out With a Bang.”
Finally, Enrique picked up. He sounded like he had just awakened. It was three in the afternoon.
I had a lot of questions. I wanted to know if his services were limited to wildlife, or if one could pay extra to be blown through a particularly annoying coworker or ex-spouse. Okay, that might be a bit much. But what if I wanted my mortal remains blazed through my neighbors’ Lhasa apso, the one that’s been shitting with impunity on my lawn for the last year? I really needed Enrique’s input.
But when I mentioned the business, Enrique started explaining to me that this was a new business, therefore he was a new employee, therefore he couldn’t give me any solid answers. He did, however, confirm that he was the owner.
I don’t want to cast aspersions, but I think a better name for his business would be “Out With a Bong.” I swear to Christ I heard what sounded like smoke being sucked through bubbles in the background. Enrique accused the state of California of discomfiting his vision. “Yeah, we’re just having problems, you know, gettin’ started. With, like, permits and stuff.”
This was starting to feel like a wild goose chase.
When I called the California Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers and asked them about Enrique, their only official comment was an incredulous, “What? Are you serious?”
But, off the record, they have heard of this idea before. An anonymous informant noted: “They probably won’t get too far with it. We tend to frown on human remains being turned into projectiles and shot across the countryside. The animal rights people would probably say that plugging a goose with Uncle Henry’s dying wish qualifies as cruel and inhumane.”