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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Wanted: Coffin

The man on the phone thought that the coffin was still for sale, but it wasn’t his coffin. The coffin is Yegor’s, who had advertised it for sale for 450,000 rubles ($14,800).

Yegor has been in the United States for a month already, but the ad is still up along with the photo of a large, shiny, wooden thing that would look like a vessel that the Queen of England would smash a champagne bottle against as she sent it on its maiden sea voyage if the lid wasn’t open.

Who knows where the coffin is now, but I imagine the man as he hangs up placing the phone onto a valuable low-rise coffee table, which Yegor had asked him to look after.

When you search for people selling coffins on Yandex.ru, the autospell function teases you. As you spell in slow Cyrillic, it offers gitary and ganteli (guitars and dumbbells), then it stutters fewer variants, gorniye lyzhi (skis) until it hits the target, groby, groby optom (coffins, coffins in bulk) and grouboks, which is the ugly transliteration of growbox. If you don’t know what a growbox is, the top ranking site Bong-Grow.ru should help.

A company that Yandex ranked high was Anubis, a Russian funeral firm which has named itself after the Egyptian god of the dead, you know, the one with the head of a dog. It probably seemed a good name when the company was founded in 1991, the drawing of Mr. Jackelhead doing something to a mummy, a nice touch.

Anubis never went in for much hard selling, gods never do, unlike the web site. They offer “a special, VIP coffin that will satisfy even the most demanding tastes.” Customers should remember though that part of Anubis’ job description as the man/dog in charge of the dead was feeding the souls of wicked people to a nasty monster.

Alexei is also selling coffins. You can get almost a 1,000 of his for the price of one of Yegor’s.

There are two photos of his work up with the ad, showing basic wooden coffins, 11 planks nailed together.

There are no lids in sight. They look like coffins ready for the aftermath of a gunfight in the Wild West.

In the second photo, the floor of the yard is covered in wood chips. One coffin is on show in the front. This one has a simple decoration, a raised piece of wood presumably for a cross to be put on it. In the background are a pile of coffins stacked on top of each other, nine large ones and then 12 smaller ones. A man, perhaps the coffin maker, is standing beside the smaller coffins, his head cut off — photographically speaking — and a lit cigarette in one hand.

The coffins cost 500 rubles ($16.50) each if you buy in bulk. “It doesn’t make any sense unless you buy 100 coffins, or at least 80,” said Alexei.