The face of a corpse fits like the wrong man’s suit. Even properly embalmed, the body is barely identifiable to those who knew its owner best. It will appear puffy, yet thin. The muscles taken for granted in life can no longer hold the expressive cast the way they once had. Instead they resign their duties, letting the epidermis fall slack. “Skin slippage” is the term used in the industry. The challenge of the good mortuary makeup artist is to diminish the facial changes of the deceased—to make it appear alive—as if only sleeping. That was the first advice Max Weindenburg’s grandfather had told him about the business back when he was twelve. Grandpa Otto had taught young Max all of his expertise of the trade before he retired, and now, Max thought, he must have pulled out every trick and secret his grandfather ever passed on to him on his latest client, plus two or three of his own. He had even devised a new paraffin formula for the heavy facial reconstruction needed for this job. He stood back from the coffin and admired his work that had survived the evening’s wake commendably.
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