Clarion Call Chapter 1-Fake Funerals
“Clarion Call” is an American business dedicated to nothing more than making money. Through marvelous use of technology, mass communication and an interconnected society , “CC”, as it became known, unwittingly stepped up to podium when the government of the United States totally collapsed, all under its own bureaucratic weight.
Solidly set and running smoothly with an economic and intellectual infrastructure that included millions of American citizens, talents ready, workers inside of the government institutions, an ant hill existed below the fruited plains that arose to save the most powerful country in the world.
All this without a single bureaucrat lifting a finger, without a solitary politician casting a vote.
This is one chapter to a book I am currently writing. It’s due to be a blockbuster so read it while it is written, and enjoy.
Chapters published linked below, or click on “Clarion Call” under labels on the side bar.
Chapter 1-Faking Funerals
Having been named the official spokesperson of the Common Sense, I am honored. This is not only for the obvious personal achievement of being chosen to represent your class in terms of word, both spoken and written.
After much reflection I have decided to begin our story with the tale of Clarion Call, how it began, how it grew slowly, softly, clandestinely, to the force that wrested our country back from the brink.
I have not been a member of Clarion Call since its conception. My tenure with this amazing organization that combines capitalism with talent to achieve an assignment, any assignment save the illegal, began with Betty Miller’s funeral.
My friend Ellen Simpson was first to introduce me to the Clarion Call organization and I was intrigued.
“It’s been around for a couple of years,” Ellen dashed off as she set out cutlery for her monthly barbecue. “There’s a headquarters somewhere and via the miracle of the Internet and Google, boom, they assign ‘jobs’ ,” and with this Ellen held her hands in the air with two fingers bent in the classic pantomime of a pair of quotes, “ based on the locale of the assignment and the resources available.”
“And they service the whole United States?” I asked, still intrigued by this mysterious organization known as Clarion Call that just recently assigned the design and implementation of a fake funeral for Betty Miller as a task my friend Ellen and a few of her chosen friends could pull off.
“Yes,” Ellen said. She laid down the last plastic knife on the picnic table and stood to give me her full attention.
“Clarion Call’s been around for a while, like I told you. It’s an organization that will do any task, no matter how crazy or out there, for the right amount of cash. Any task, anywhere on earth and in some cases not even restricted to earth.”
Ellen laughed at my disbelieving eyes. “Clarion Call has arranged for private trips into space. Yep, it was the Chinese that sent up the rocket ship but Clarion Call, for the right price, can make anything happen. It’s the perfect blend of unfettered capitalism combined with the amazing tools of technology that allow such a concept to grow and flourish. “
“How’d you get involved with it?”
Ellen lit up a cigarette, then looked around for any other witnesses to her crime. “You just go to their web site. You sign up that you’d like to join the Clarion Call Army. You list your skills, your limitations…generic stuff. When they get an assignment that suits you they call you up, tell you the deed, ask if you can do it, tell you what they’ll pay, on it goes. You must pay all taxes on wages paid and they do withhold. I have to form some kind of LLC thing but again, easy to do on the Internet. Don’t want no trouble from the feds.”
Ellen snubbed out her cigarette, bent over to pick up the butt, and joined me in a stroll to her kitchen where weekly picnic festivities would begin.
Right from the start Clarion Call was a harmless enough business. And make no mistake, it was a business, not a CABAL, not some Latin American group that would bring down the United States. Clarion Call was a business fed by nothing but the minds, resources, curiosity, intellects, of millions of Americans. Made possible, of course and as now understood, by the technology denied all the businesses formed in years prior.
It just grew, like capitalism does when left alone.
Came the time, and with no pre-plan, Clarion Call responded smoothly and instantly to save the country.
God really does bless America.
The fake funeral of Betty Miller was quite an experience for me; I still smile at the memory. Though it turned out that faking her own funeral might have saved the very alive Betty Miller’s life as a murder plot on her was aborted due to, well Betty’s fake death. But I get ahead of myself.
“I decided that I wanted to attend my own funeral. Hell, my heirs will have to pay for my funeral out of my funds so I figure, why can’t I attend what I’m paying for? I want to see who comes, who says what about me…I’ll pay whatever the cost.”
I’d known that Clarion Call client Betty Miller had requested that someone accept an assignment to arrange and oversee her funeral. Betty explained that she would be attending that funeral, as was her wish, but not as Betty Miller. Betty Miller would be the corpse. Betty would attend disguised as a co-worker of the deceased Betty Miller.
It was at our first face-to-face meeting when Betty explained her reasons for wanting to attend her own funeral. It was not on Clarion Call to question logic or reasoning for an assignment. So much as it was legal, Clarion Call would take any assignment. For the right price.
In fact, some 75% of Clarion Call assignments were in the party-planning category: birthday, anniversary, Bar Mitzvah, graduation. For the breadth of party planning options, Clarion Call became somewhat famous online, known as “CC, the place to go to pahtay”. It was the “CC” appellation that confused many, that and the innocence of party planners who would take down an entire class of dictators, who knew?
Parties planned by Clarion Call were not cheap, to be sure. They were very special, often involving elaborate surprise, guests of fame and reknown. Yes we got Elton John for Rush Limbaugh’s failed marriage, made quite a fee on it. Elton had no problem with Rush’s political leanings. For the right price, of course.
Folks with money and elaborate plans contacted Clarion Call’s national web site and after terms, requirements, conditions and most importantly, amount of monies, were determined, someone out across the fruited plains, someone who’d already signed on as an expert on Bar Mitvah’s, someone who could lead a birthday hike, that someone was contacted, interviewed and assigned the task.
1099’s were given by Clarion Call to all recipients of assignment funds, taxes were withheld as a requirement of employment, even double the cost of FICA almost as it is for a private business person. Clarion Call wanted nothing to do with any IRS scrutiny. Though the IRS did keep an eye on this organization, as it would for any organization of such a size. Clarion Call filled government coffers handily, both at a federal level and on a 50 state level. That and their practice of withholding taxes on payees beyond federal requirements also made the IRS field agents happy.
Each year when Clarion Call filed its corporate tax return, it got so that the agents assigned to such high level audits took a quick look over and if the number went up from last year, they approved it on.
Arranging a funeral was a piece of cake and the fact that Betty Miller wanted to attend her own funeral was important only in terms of planned seating, introductions…that sort of thing. Clarion Call made no value judgment on one’s reason for doing an event, or how or why, besides the legality of it as must always be emphasized.
Which is not to see that such whacky assignments don’t cause giggling and gossip amongst the assignees . Clarion Call does not much care about even that normal human trait, so long as the company name is not tarnished, enjoy the human event of the moment.
Betty Miller was 57 years old at the time of her fake funeral. She was a pretty middle-age woman, short, wide-hipped and big-bosomed. Betty was heiress to quite a fortune it would turn out. She was a widow, having lost her third husband LeRoy five years prior to her own “death”. Betty had no children of her own, but she had a step-daughter by her first husband Frank Reynauld and a step-son by the aforementioned LeRoy. Betty had no siblings and stood to inherit her parent’s wealth from their chain of hardware stores, then long ago sold out to a national chain but at a handsome price and which proceeds from would be in the millions. Betty’s mother, JoAnn Harper, was 92 years old and a severe diabetic.
“I never had no children of my own,” Betty sniffed softly that day of our first face-to-face meeting. “Tried, even tried an implant or something once. God didn’t mean for me to have babies so I moved on. I had a close relationship with my step-daughter Stacey. I married her cheating father when I was only 19. He was 29 at the time, already married twice, three kids, Stacey the one left behind when her mama got tired of finding strange women in her bed.”
Betty Miller was as intriguing as the task she wanted assigned. She came from money but her language was a bit coarse. She certainly didn’t come off as an educated upper class woman. Her story was certainly interesting.
“I’m adopted,” Betty offered, a statement that made sense to me at least. Not to sound snobby, but Betty Miller did not resemble her “parents” a bit. Mr. and Mrs. Reginald Harper were tall with patrician cheek bones. They had one biological child, a son who died at age 6 of brain cancer. They adopted Betty two years after the death of their son. For whatever reason, the Harpers adopted no more children. Betty’s mother was still alive at age 93. She had no living relatives. Betty’s father had a brother still alive, a few nieces. But she was his only living child so there was little chance of financial disputes on his side. Betty stood to inherit millions at the death of her mother and, to put it mildly, Betty’s mother was close to death at the time Betty staged her own funeral.
“I have a will, but it’s nobody’s business what’s in my will,” Betty continued, her voice rising as if in argument. Ellen and I backed up a bit and held up our hands in protest. We had no desire to know the contents of her very personal will though we sure did want to know.
“I decided I want to attend my own funeral,” Betty said, beginning to gather her belongings indicating our face to face meeting would soon end. “I want to see how people act, I want to see what they say about me. What I learn will either assure me that my heirs as I’ve assigned deserve what they get or perhaps there’s someone else who is more deserving.”
At this Betty sniffed, a bit of wet formed in the corner of her eye. Goodness, imagine having to arrange your own funeral to decide who’s worthy of your money. I caught the sadness of that concept, the loneliness of it.
Betty was quite particular in terms of casket. She’d need a fake death certificate, she said. This gave us pause. Such as fake death certificates were illegal. Although, perish any thought that the obtainment of any illegal document is but small change for Clarion Call. There are ways to instruct one so inclined as to how, when and who to meet for illegal documentation. Clandestine web sites and encrypted passwords prevent intrusion.
After consulting with the Clarion Call main office re fake death certificates, Ellen got the PDF file in her in-box. She printed it out for Betty, the details on who to call, the password, all within, for Betty’s ease of obtainment. After discussing after funeral service repasts and the inclusion of a Scottish Bagpipe Band, Betty bid us farewell, planned to come in a few weeks before her scheduled death for a pre-corpse makeup session.
It was because of the software and presence of a very unsophisticated encryption system that led to the wild rumors that Clarion Call had somehow gathered the formula of the space aliens of yore, an encryption system that fooled the experts at NSA who had no idea such a vibrant and vigorous economy of sorts was bristling under the noses of the bureaucrats.
In fact Clarion Call’s password encryption system was amateur, copied from some Freeware found on Microsoft.com. Clarion Call’s bustling Internet business went unnoticed precisely because the snoops and spies were looking for something more complicated than needed. Clarion Call had a program that diverted “hits” from its site lest an inordinate amount of folks from CC were taking to visit secret illegal document sites. This code was just a simple thing any 10 year old Geek could have pierced through but as nobody could see the forest for the trees, CC soldiered on, unminded by the government types who monitor such behavior.
By the time the government got wind of Clarion Call and plugged the holes in their software that overlooked such enormous activity, it was too late. Those same unplugged software holes and in time the total disregard given a company,- a legal and legitimate company that disobeyed no laws and filed all tax returns promptly-became the vehicle to overhaul an entire government, the largest and most power government in the world.
Clarion Call was also a giver of political contributions, giving equally to Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives. The company played no political favorites but its even-handed contributions to campaigns, local and national, across the country, kept the politicos content and this too kept CC out of the spotlight.
Clarion Call was not formed as some sort of pre-planned revolutionary group as accused. Clarion Call grew and thrived because it was free from government intrusion and was nourished by the ingenuity, talent and dreams of the American people. Not a single politician ever belonged to Clarion Call.
Of course not. The political class lacks all common sense. The Common Sense scares the hell out of the political class because it is the one mighty and powerful unknown that disallows nonsense and stupidity to take over our lives.
With efficiency and quick dispatch Betty Miller died on the day of her death as scheduled and then already imprinted on her death certificate. Ellen and I were charged mostly with the details of the various luncheons and repasts as planned throughout the viewing and actual interment of Betty’s body.
On the first day of viewing there was planned a luncheon for the time period between the noon viewing and the planned 5 pm viewing. By that day Betty would have been “dead” for three days. Proper obituaries would have been published in the local papers and , of course, online. Those that knew Betty would know she had died. There would be enough time to plan the be there at the first viewing, at least those closest to her. Betty’s mother, if it is polite to express an “alas” to such a concept, did NOT die before Betty’s scheduled fake death.
This fact put a lot of pressure on Betty to come up with some known –to- all reason why Betty had control of her mother’s money. It was small matter to obtain a PDF file with instructions, encrypted password and all, with details of obtaining a power-of-attorney over one Mrs. JoAnn Harper. Betty had this document published before her planned fake death and was quite vocal about how she is handling her mother’s medical and financial affairs.
“That includes details on how her assets are to be distributed in the event I die before her,” Betty told all her friends as well as me and Ellen. It was good enough for me. I was more involved with potato salad and leftovers.
Betty, known as Wendy Bayne as an attendee at her own funeral, showed up during the last half hour of the afternoon break between viewings. I was busy arguing with Ellen over the wisdom of serving the same macaroni salad from lunch at the after evening repast.
An absurd thought, come on, not only would it go bad, after 9pm the crowds are more interested in light snacks, some chocolate covered crostini with decaf rich Colombian blend. Perhaps a warmed brie, some wheat crackers to look all diet like. Ellen, goodness I love this woman who so saw me through my recent and sudden widowhood, but there were serious issues with her taste. No, let me correct that. Ellen chose to join Clarion Call as part of the event-planner staff, indicating she had some sort of talent in that direction. Ellen is a wonderful painter and can garden with the best. Why on earth she envisioned herself as some supreme gourmet was beyond me. Hamburgers, some creamy easily-spoiled salad, some potato chips, boom, Ellen’s notion of a cool and happening repast to be served at a costly Clarion Call event.
Of course, there were some humorous moments as we arranged and presented Betty’s funeral. Humorous moments are the stuff of books like this.
But Betty was real close to her REAL death and she had not a clue. Figure I got somehow in the middle of it all but all ended up well.
Betty picked up a then-drying tuna salad sandwich and gave it a sniff. I asked her if something was wrong, wondering who on earth was this woman wearing a totally inappropriate floppy-brimmed hat to a funeral viewing.
“It’s me,” Betty whispered, pulling down her floppy hat brim to cover the side of her face. I quickly took the stale tuna sandwich from her hands and bid her welcome. I still did not know who “me” was.
“Betty!” I heard a loud stage whisper utter. “It’s me! Betty!”
I gave this strange woman a close look over. She lowered those huge sunglasses and even at that I didn’t recognize her. Her disguise was a good one, I’ll give her that.
“I want to be here for the evening viewing,” Betty, AKA Wendy Bayne, continued to stage whisper although no one was around. “I couldn’t show up for the early viewing, I am supposed to be at work you know.”
The ersatz Betty pounded me with questions as to how the early viewing attendees reacted, who cried, what did they say. Frankly I wasn’t paying all that much attention to the attendees at the early viewing. I was too busy setting up the late luncheon spread and debating with Ellen over future repasts we were charged with setting up with this funeral.
Ellen and I were not the only ones working on this Clarion Call task. We live in a sort of outside-the-city burg here in lower Delaware. The only reason we even got this assignment was because we were the closest in proximity to Betty Miller when she put in her call to headquarters with the details of her assignment. Ellen tells me that she and Margaret, another mutual friend and member of our local book club have been involved with a few other Clarion Call events, including an assignment as far north as Dover. Once a huge groups of Delaware CC members were called upon to prepare a reception for Joe Biden, Delaware’s most famous politico.
Sure we work these sorts of political events. I assure that CC would do a reception of sorts for any politico. Even politicians and the elected political elite use Clarion Call and there’s the smile. These types actually helped fill the coffers of the organization that put them all solidly in their place.
Ellen, so she told me, got deeper and deeper involved with Clarion Call, at times taking on assignments that were a bit scary. At the time I had no idea some of the things CC got involved in.
There were about five of us working Betty Miller’s funeral. This was my first assignment from CC and I was surprised at how many people around me were working so closely with Clarion Call.
Rita Markham arranged all the details with the funeral home. Josephine Parker arranged for a fake corpse to be in the casket and that took some ingenuity. Betty wisely chose a closed casket for the less scrutiny the better. Josie managed to talk the family of some other corpse that kind of resembled Betty to let them use their beloved relative’s corpse for day. $500 will take away anybody’s offended sensibility.
The wrong corpse was only needed for the day of the first viewing, for family only as is the tradition. After that the casket was closed and the woman inside was returned to her own casket and the real dead lady became a cherished friend of the deceased.
Josie’s “talent”, such as it is, is disguise of any kind, and she’s good at it. I am told that Josephine was called by the national Clarion Call quite a bit. Seems that disguises were in great demand. Josie’s been on assignments that included a lady who wanted to disguise herself as a teenager to attend her daughter’s party up to disguising a diplomat at some distant outpost as a local rebel leader so he can insert himself into the action, get the local low-down.
Yes indeed, Clarion Call did often do jobs as a sub-contractor for the government, goodness why not? So a concerned Mom wanted to be made believably younger to better monitor her daughter by actually attending the same social events as she. Clarion Call has folks all signed up, within desired proximity of the assignment, so Josie took care of it.
As for the disguise job for the ambassador, Clarion Call has an entire division devoted to sub-contracted government jobs, complete with the required lobbyists and schmoozers of congress critters as required. A staff of many was dedicated to searching for government contracts, all proper forms were completed, taxes were withheld and paid, contributions to legislators responsible for the contracts were made with more mind paid to how much Clarion Call can benefit than any political idealogy.
Such a myriad of inter-governmental association did allow for ease of action when time came for CC to effect much needed changes in those bureaucracies without bother or rules or regulations. The entire federal mechanism was overthrown and taken over before it knew what hit it.
Rita Markham was the mistress of churches and funeral parlors in our area and goodness who knew such a talent was needed? Who would think to volunteer for assignments requiring conduits to these institutions, when you think about it? Of course there are weddings to plan and Rita knew all the churches in the area, all the funeral homes, she was intimate with all for the entire state of Delaware, in fact. Not that Delaware is a big state but there are Ritas in every state, some states there are hundreds of Ritas. They help to arrange funerals, even fake funerals if assigned, they arrange weddings. I would daresay that every church and funeral home in America has a Rita assigned to it via the national Clarion Call database and you must smile, all of this public knowledge, readily available for but small effort.
There were battalions of Americans with the same type of local geographic knowledge of all hospitals. Or Jewish Temples, Islamic Mosques, Catholic churches. Some were experts on rental halls and schools, most definitely. All of America was well known by someone in proximity, a status that has always been the case one might argue, but being able to instantly contact someone so knowledgeable, to contact them from anywhere on the planet if required, this status was very new to a post twentieth century America. This vast network of instant “customers” if you will, was utilized by all sorts of businesses. Clarion Call was the largest of them all, having evolved into an enormous institution worthy of awe and this without anyone really noticing.
Clarion Call became, in a small space of three years, an efficient beehive, a business designed to deliver a product and CC did it well. I type softly here, Clarion Call grew to a strength of many millions of Americans, the vast majority signed up for “talents” that one can only imagine. A big anthill growing under the fruited plains, the workers picking up extra bucks for whatever odd assignment might come along. It was a business that survived government bother for adhering to capitalistic principals with no bowing to any sort of idealogy. Clarion Call wanted to make money. That’s all.
And so the day Betty Miller wanted the scoop on how attendees to her funeral reacted to the first family-only viewing, there were a slew of local Waleytown residents to give her the lowdown.
“Your Mom could barely walk past the casket, so weak is the poor woman,” Rita said, her mouth set in scowl as she thought staging a fake funeral and putting one’s mother through such pain was juvenile. One might argue that Rita arranged the funeral parlor and was a major intermediary between Clarion Call’s national office and this lower and slower section of Delaware. Thus, one might argue, her disdain should be shared by her own self.
One would be arguing uselessly. Clarion Call does not care what the motives, personalities or empathetic natures of its customers are. Clarion Call does not even care how its contractors handle folks with nasty dispositions save a casual handbook which encourages us to indulge whatever whim they have so long as it’s not illegal.
“Clarion Call is not in the judgment business so we ask that you avoid any discernible physical or verbal display of disdain. Our assignments are handed out with full knowledge of the assignees so once you accept the assignment, do as requested and show no emotion as best as possible.”
So the guy who wanted to celebrate his birthday in his bath tub, yes in his birthday suit, and with full attendance of his family and friends around the large garden tub, is given a CC assignee who thinks birthday parties from bath tubs are the norm. The guests would drink champagne, gorge on expensive h’ors d’ouevres and dance to fine ballroom music. Being naked in your own home is against no law except little outpost in Alaska I think. All guests were informed of the celebratory circumstances and for the right amount of money, they agreed.
Hey, people have strange wants and needs and God Bless America after all, there’s enough creativity, intelligence, curiosity and pique in Americans across the fruited plains that it’s small matter to find the funds that make it all possible. For years networks such as HGTV have shown homes across the world that consist of old gas stations, ancient churches and once, an abandoned nuclear reactor. If you need something done, call an American.
Do not for a minute believe that the Chinese are capable of designing, inventing and getting to market all the stuff they sell. They wait until Americans do it than they steal our ideas! Everyone knows this.
I think this is because we haven’t had to chop firewood for a while, but that’s a knee jerk explanation. It’s more about this country having grown so fast with a majority of today’s Americans having grown up with little effort to clean their clothes or travel any distance. Earning a living still takes a bit of time but even at that most adult Americans had more leisure time at their disposal than our ancestors could only hope for. We got to spend our time doing stuff we love, or stuff we were curious about, or just doing stuff that’s out there, that’s cool.
And there are always unusual or unplanned for events at many Clarion Call assignments. Over the years the many CC contractors learned to adapt on a whim or run from the danger.
My first experience at such impromptu planning came when I overheard Betty Miller’s step-son as he thought he was alone with just his mother mention how it was good that she died because he was fixing to murder her just the following night.
Labels: Clarion Call