Saturday, December 7, 2013

I Don't Want To Ride In That Hearse

It is not a bad request. I just don’t want to ride in a hearse.
A hearse, from what I hear, is not bad ride. They are smooth, plush and comfortable even though the rider doesn’t really care. A hearse was a wonderful wagon for carrying guitars and amplifiers to gigs. It was a great space with more room than a station wagon to make out in, though it was a bit creepy.
The bad ones smelled like formaldehyde and the good ones looked like pimp mobiles. The drivers were silent, stiff and dressed to the nines. I don’t remember any of them having a radio.
How do I know so much about hearse? I had a friend who worked in a mortuary in the neighborhood. He worked the late shift just in case someone decided to die after the sun went down. His main job was transportation. If he got a call from the hospital, he’d load a box and drive to the entrance of the emergency room. The hospital personnel would load the box and he would return to the garage. He didn’t have to unload until the mortician came to work.
We’d sit around and play cards, eat cheese and pickle sandwiches, drink flat beer and smoke wacky weed next to stainless steel tables with drains. Stacks of coffins, some filled, some not and watching the moon through a skylight was our arena. There is no quieter than a mortuary.
He had a transistor radio that we’d listen to but it was mostly static. I don’t remember any topical conversations among the smells of chemistry and death. Sometimes there were naked bodies lying on the cold tables. This didn’t seem to bother him but it crept me out.
It finally got to a point where free drugs were not as important as his necrophilia comments. I don’t know if they were real or not but it was time to move on.
I don’t know if it was that experience or a friend of mine dying while we were swimming, but funerals have always bothered me. Death is inevitable but we celebrate it with a funeral. While the dead person is stretch out in front of the crowd, people stand and tell their tales of warmth and friendship with the departed. There is never a mention of when the person being so highly spoken of was found in bed with another’s partner or passing out on your sister’s bed after robbing the parent’s liquor cabinet or those terrible smells in the middle of a dinner party.
So I don’t think I want to take a ride in the long black wagon. Someone else can use my ticket.

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