Mary Ann McSweeny
The Biker

Mary Ann McSweeny - The Biker

Creative Nonfiction
Mary Ann McSweeny, an educator and instructional designer, is a native of the Berkshires in Massachusetts. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in So It Goes, Toasted Cheese Literary Journal, The… Read more »
Sarah Shotland
What We Wear to Prison

Sarah Shotland - What We Wear to Prison

Creative Nonfiction
Sarah Shotland is the author of the novel Junkette, and a playwright whose work has been produced nationally and internationally. She is co-founder of Words Without Walls, which brings creative… Read more »

The Biker

Mary Ann McSweeny

In the stealth of the night on cold porcelain, under the severe fluorescent lights of the Prep Room, the embalmer pierces, drains, and plugs to slow the inroads of flesh-eating bacteria. He dresses the dead biker in jeans, t-shirt, and leather jacket. The embalmer’s knack for cosmetic work always makes the family nod and say in gratitude, “He looks like himself.”

This case is different. The embalmer doesn’t have a beard to replace the one the biker lost to chemo. The biker doesn’t look like himself, and everyone feels it.

The biker’s aunt has stepped up to take final care of her orphaned nephew, too young to die, only forty-nine. She carries the responsibility in loco parentis to bury her nephew in a manner that at once honors traditional American burial customs and celebrates his biker avocation. With dignity, with an old-fashioned sense of hospitality, she is quietly adamant. The biker’s friends must feel welcome. They must know they are in the right place when it comes time to pay their respects.

He must have a beard.

She cajoles, insists, and finally persuades one of the biker’s nieces, a makeup artist at a Boston movie studio, to… Read more »