Q: So, mom, you bought burial plots?
Waters: Yes. For myself, your dad, and your grandparents. But I never would allow them to contact me afterward, and I never picked out the exact plots.
Q: Did you phone-in your order?
Waters: Oh no. Better than that. We had a man come to the house.
Q: What did he bring with him to the house? Maps? Blueprints?
Waters: He brought with him a large display book that stood up on the dining room table.
Q: Full color?
Waters: With pretty architectural renderings and, of course, landscaping, but no headstones. He was very specific about that. Just plaques in the ground.
Q: They don’t have headstones?
Waters: Nope. And no real flowers either. Just plastic flowers and lights. Some of the plaques had special messages like “Nana, We Miss You” and “Pop-Pop, You Forgot Your La-Z-Boy.”
Waters: So this guy is in our house, with a large stand-up display, and he is telling us how we can always be buried in another state because they have links to a bunch of other memorial parks. Then, he says to me, “You know you can bury your parents in the same grave. One on top of the other.”
Q: What if they don’t die at the same time? Do they dig the other one up and then throw them both back in the ground?
Waters: No. They’re buried on levels.
Q: So they are not actually “on top of” each other.
Waters: Oh, in the same coffin? No.
Q: Right. Did you go for that option?
Waters: Oh, no. No. I wanted a place for everyone and everyone kept in place.
Q: Now about your plots…
Waters: I drive by them and wave.
Waters: I used to when I worked nearby. Plus, I have the photos from when I was there with Todd.
Q: And who is Todd?
Waters: Todd works at the memorial park. He gives tours of the grounds. He asked me to come out and pick my plots.
Q: So, ten years ago you bought plots, but you didn’t pick them out?
Waters: Nope. I put the papers away. Didn’t want to see them.
Q: But then they called you?
Waters: They called pretty much bi-monthly… for years. Leaving messages like, “Just wondering when you want to come pick out your plots.”
Q: Did you ever hang up on them?
Waters: Yes. And I told them, “I am not ready. Don’t push me,” and then, “Thank you. I certainly will.” But then Todd phoned and, well, who wants to spend Valentine’s Day alone?
Q: Did he strike you as off-kilter immediately?
Waters: On the phone? No. I mean, he was just so perfect.
Q: And he invited you out to the cemetery? On Valentine’s Day?
Waters: Begged me. “Please let me bring this baby home.” No one was able to get me out there. And so I said, “Okay. Valentine’s Day. Wear a carnation.” He seemed so nice. Until he took the deeds to the plots. I mean, why take my deeds, and then take off?
Q: He just took them and disappeared?
Waters: Yes. After I left, they promised to mail the deeds to me. But, instead of putting them in the mail, Todd stole them. He said that he was hand-delivering them to me.
Q: Is that even allowed?
Waters: No! It’s not allowed. It’s not heard of at all.
Q: But they let him take the deeds anyway?
Waters: Well, they didn’t just let Todd take the deeds. He went to file them with the county clerk’s office, and after that he took the deeds and took off. He called them to say that he was delivering the deeds that afternoon.
Q: And how long was he gone for?
Waters: About 10 days, I think.
Q: Did they fire him?
Waters: I don’t know.
Q: Because, you know, if you don’t show up for work for 10 days, usually they let you go.
Waters: Even when you work for cemetery memorial places. You know people are not dying for those jobs. And Todd phoned me about two weeks or so later to tell me about a special he had on interments.
Q: Oh, so he did still have a job there.
Waters: Yeah, I guess.
Q: Did he mention the stolen deeds?
Waters: He said, “Did you get the deeds?” and I just said, “Indeed I did.”
Q: He didn’t mention running off with them?
Waters: Not a word. Chatted on as if nothing happened.
Q: Did you ask where he had been for 10 days? Or were you trying to let the whole thing go?
Waters: I thought, “I had better be polite.”
Q: Did you ask what he wanted with the deeds? It’s not like he could do anything with them.
Waters: No, I didn’t. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to know. It seemed like he just wanted to hold them. It’s not like he was trying to steal the land from us. He’d already filed them with the county.
Q: Do you think he was striking back at you? Because when you went to the cemetery, you kind of messed with Todd, didn’t you?
Waters: Not exactly.
Q: You had him pose in place at the site of your plots for a series of photos.
Waters: But prior to the posing he had told me that he had tried out 18 different coffins so he could sell them better. He told me that his job there is to help people figure out where they want to sleep forever. And all I could think about were the blinking lights and the light-up Santas and plastic roses.
Q: Is he tall?
Waters: Not too tall. He fit in my grave site.
Q: And you’re not very tall.
Waters: Maybe your height. I guess a bit taller. You can get an idea from the photos.
Q: How many photos did you take of him?
Waters: I have about five photos of him.
Q: At the site?
Waters: Oh, yes.
Q: Were the police called in while he was missing?
Waters: I don’t know.
Q: Would you have presented the photos as some kind of evidence?
Waters: For what?
Q: For a police investigation. If there had been one.
Waters: I didn’t see this as criminal. I felt bad for him. In fact, I thought maybe I had kinda sorta pushed him over the edge a bit.
Q: Pushed him over the edge?
Waters: I don’t know, maybe he thought about the day. It was Valentine’s Day, and raining.
Q: Maybe Valentine’s Day brings him down. He’s not married is he?
Waters: I don’t think so. He’s young. Maybe mid- or late-20s. No older than you.
Q: Were your deeds tear-stained?
Waters: No. My deeds were mangled. Man-handled, or maybe dog-chewed.
Q: Do you keep them in a safe place now?
Waters: Yes. In the bedside table. Nobody is allowed to look in there.
Q: And the plots?
Waters: Well, you know, your grandparents are doing well now, so. The space is taken care of. There’s a nice view. You can see the hills.