The Talking Dead

I touch dead people.

Or at least, I used to in college when I worked at the hospital in the Transportation Department.

It all started like this:

“You have to respect the deceased,” Mark said, flashing a little tease of a grin at me as he showed me how to dress the recently departed patient in front of us. “Always page a nurse to assist you. You shouldn’t move the patient by yourself, ” I heard him say, but I couldn’t concentrate. I kept getting lost in his crystal blue eyes.

“Then you place the tag on the toe like this,” I heard his voice say. I momentarily looked up from my fantasy. Oh yeah, dead people training.

It was called a cart call. It required walking into the cold sterile morgue and getting what was called the cart, a metal rolling table topped with a hard black leather cover. Inside was a body bag, a strap used to tie the deceased’s mouth closed, and a tag that we placed on the big toe of the right foot.

I averaged about four cart calls a week. In any hospital, people die every day, and the process after they took their last breath often began with me.

One night, two days before Halloween, I received such a  call. I was warned by many of my co-workers to beware the week of Halloween because it often resulted in lots of pranks in the morgue and that I should be very careful should I get called into the house of the dead. It was 10:45, and my shift ended at 11:00. All I wanted to do was continue flirting with Brandon, but my two-way radio chirped, “71, come in.” (That was me, 71.)

“71, over.” I’m not even going to try and pretend that I didn’t like talking like a truck driver.

“Please take the cart to East 332.”

“71, copy.”

I looked up at Brandon who was grinning as he heard the call. “Looks like you have work to do,” he said with a smirk and raised one eyebrow.

I rolled my eyes and blew a stray hair out of my face and headed downstairs to the basement where the morgue was.

It was eerily quiet. I could hear my steps on the linoleum tile as I walked. I pushed the big metal door open and saw the cart there waiting for me. I pulled the top off to make sure someone wasn’t lying in there waiting to scare me and sighed with relief at the usual supplies.

I rolled the cart into the elevator, pushed “3” and headed to the room where the dead awaited me. It was 11:00 pm by this time, and my shift was ending, but the rule was once you received a call, you had to complete it before clocking out, so I met with Mrs. No Longer With Us and got to work.

I paged the nurse’s station knowing that it was shift change and that I would have to wait for someone to come assist me.  All of my hospital friends were heading to the bar next door, and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to flirt with Brandon or Mark, so I was more than a little anxious to get out of there. I looked down at Mrs. NLWU and realized she probably weighed eighty pounds. I could easily do this alone, and I didn’t feel like waiting twenty minutes for the nurses to decide who would be stuck dealing with the dead lady, so I looked at her and shrugged my shoulders.

“It’s just you and me tonight,” I said to her.

I slipped on my latex gloves before I untied her hospital gown from behind her neck and pulled it off of her body. She wore nothing else, which made my job easier. I decided since she was so petite to go ahead and move her to the cart before placing her in the bag. I walked to the other side of the cart, opened the bag and got it ready for her. Then I walked to the opposite side of the bed, climbed up on it with her and placed my arms under her, my left arm supporting her neck, and my right arm supporting her just below her bottom under her upper thigh. I leaned her up and scooted her to the cart. When I started to lay her head down, she let out a long, loud, moan.

“Aaahhhhhhhhhh.”

I dropped her. Her head knocked on the metal cart banging three times. “Donk, donk, donk.”

I screamed. Loud. Horror movie style.

I ran to the pager on her bed and tried to calm my trembling hands as I hit the button at least twenty times. “Can I help you?” The nurse said from the speaker.

“She’s not dead! She’s not dead! She’s not dead! She’s not dead! She’s not dead!” I screamed into the pager.

“I’ll be right down,” he said. I recognized his British accent. Peter. Thank God.

I ran out into the hallway to wait for him, leaving The Talker in the room naked and alone.

He walked toward me, smiling.

“Is this some kind of a joke, Peter, because it’s not even a little bit funny?”

“No, darling. It’s not a joke. Tell me what happened.”

“She moaned. She’s not dead.” I rapidly shook my head, emphasizing the “not dead” part.

He grabbed my hand to pull me back into the room.

“I am NOT going back in there.”

“Come on,” he said with his smile. “I’ll explain while we get her fixed up.”

I resisted a little more but then followed him back into her quiet, now terrifying room.

“When she moaned, were you moving her.”

“Uh, huh.” I replied.

“Did you move her torso up and then lower it?”

“Yes.” I still stayed a good distance from The Talker. I could see her though, mouth completely agape, begging me to come closer so she could suck out my soul with her gigantic mouth.

“Did it sound like this? Aaaaaahhhhhhhhh,” He mimicked her perfectly.

“Yes.”

“Mandi, she just let the air out of her lungs. When you moved her, you forced it out. You literally heard her last breath, or at least half of it. She’s dead. Completely”

I sighed.

“Would you care for some help getting her ready?” He asked and ushered me back toward the cart.

“I’d love some,” I said with relief feeling about two hundred pounds lighter.

We strapped her soul sucking mouth closed, tagged her toe, put her in the bag, zipped it up, and then I nervously headed to the elevator, downstairs to the basement, and walked her into the morgue. I placed her in drawer where she would wait for the coroner to take her to a funeral home, and started to leave. I turned toward the door and heard, “Aaaaaaaahhhhhhh.”

I jumped at least thirty feet into the air. Then someone grabbed me from behind.

I screamed. Loud. Horror movie style.

Then I turned around and punched Mark in the stomach. Hard.

The Talker really was dead, may she rest in peace, but once I was in the elevator, Peter called Mark and suggested he strike while my iron was sizzling. I may or may not have taken a tequila shot immediately upon entering the bar, and I hate tequila.

The Talking Dead

Happy Halloween, everybody.

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51 thoughts on “The Talking Dead

  1. I laughed out loud when I read that you dropped her. Effing hilarious.

    I dated a guy (you know- sloppy seconds) and his dad was a mortician. We used to pick up bodies from hospitals all the time.

    Freaky shit.

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    • MAGGIE!!! Freaky shit is the truth. And sloppy seconds totally sounds like a guy that would have a dad for a mortician. People who work with dead people are weird. Wait..I mean…Never mind.

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  2. Good LAWD woman! That was TERRIFYING! I was *right there*. Yowwwwza! I would NOT be doing that job. No WAY! *shudders*

    Props to you for doing it…and somehow making it almost seem like an attractive prospect 😉

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    • I loved that job, not necessarily the dead people part, but I enjoyed all the interaction with the patients, and I had access to the entire hospital. I met surgeons, nurses, pathologist, and all of them were so interesting. I learned a ton.

      Liked by 1 person

      • To an extent, I think you’re right – the same with abundance and blessing – it’s the mental attitude rather than necessarily what we *have* which makes the difference. However, I’ve been in a previous employment situation where I was so appallingly used, that a) I shouldn’t have stayed and b) I hated it: I dreaded working, and it was because of the people I worked with and the exploitative nature of the job which made it unbearable. I don’t think my attitude would have made much difference.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well having a great attitude can go a long way, but when you’re surrounded by cunty assholes, then…well, I’m just glad you aren’t there anymore and get a good tale from the van every now and then. I once worked in an environment where two women hated me. I’m not sure why. I’m charming and nice and did nothing to make them hate me, but they were hell bent on making my life miserable. Too bad I wouldn’t let them. I think they hated me even more for it because when they were cunty assholes to me, I never fought back. Just smiled. They were my client though, so I had to be nice.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That really sucks. It pisses me off that anyone would go out of their way just to make someone else’s life miserable for no reason. That said, people all have their own, bizarre (yet somehow justifiable to them) reasons. It sounds like you handled it well, and I hope you didn’t have to work with them for too long.

        I’ve not had any tales from the van recently, which kind of sucks, but I am still SO grateful for this job, which is just LEAGUES ahead of the one I had before. You’re right about not being able to do anything sensible with cunty assholes (except leave and not work with/for them).

        Good for you for your attitude.

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  3. Also, you HAVE to explain a bit more, because I’m a little…imagination-y…and kind of freaked out – how on earth do you tie someone’s mouth shut? I’m imagining a kind of Hannibal-esque mask, or else that you sew something through their lips and gosh, I don’t really like the sound of either of those…

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    • It’s just a little cloth strap. You wrap it from below their jaw and tie it on top of their head so that when rigor mortis sets in, their mouth isn’t hanging open. Almost everyone has a gaping mouth when they did because the body is fully relaxed.

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  4. Your determination to get to the bar with the hotties is impressive. I don’t know if I would have tried to move a dead body by myself. I probably would have peed myself when she moaned! And if you hate tequila you should have played that up and insisted that you’d have to lick the salt off of Mark’s neck. 🙂

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    • Oooh. I didn’t even think about the salt trick. Yumm!!! *leans in and whispers* I ended up dating both of them. Brandon got a three part story from that experience, but Mark…well, let’s just say my imagination was much better.

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  5. I’m both horrified and jealous of your past job! I tend to delight in the macabre, but lifting corpses might be way past my limit. EEEEEEEEEEP! Too creepy!

    I took a something in college (I don’t even remember now what class it was) and had to witness an autopsy. Worse than the smells/sights were the sounds. The cracking, snapping, creaking, moaning, slurping sounds were literally AWFUL. I didn’t expect that, at all. I’ll never forget it.

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  6. Holy Fuk I would shit myself. I probably wouldnt have called for help until I changed my pants. I dont like dead people. I could never wheel them around and pick them up. Yuck. If someone tried to scare me in that hospital I am certain I would punch them straight in the mouth out of fear…… I worked at Foot Locker and it wasnt haunted or anything so I dont have any scary stories to tell today….CRAP! Good story B. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

      • It was the grossest thing that has ever happened to me. It wasn’t really on me as much as too close to me. It’s the only time I threw up in a patient’s room. And I saw a lot of gross things.

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  7. That was an awesome story. Not for the dead lady, of course. I haven’t touched tequila in 25 years, but I think I would have had to do a shot as well. At least dead lady only released her breath; I understand that lots of other stuff gets released from corpses too.

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    • The dead can release all kinds of things when they die. And once the dead released something on me that made me vomit. You can read some of the other comments if you’re curious. Let’s just say it was the grossest thing to ever happen to me.

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    • Thank you so much for reading. I didn’t like to go into the morgue alone when I first started working there, but once I got used to it, it was no big deal. I still can’t believe Mark was in there waiting to scare me. Thank goodness I was only 18, or I may have had a heart attack on the spot.

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  8. Ohhh – that was SO evil to scare you like that! PS – “There was this one time that the dead person shit on me, but that’s a different story.” – WHAT???

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    • P.S. Yes, Jana. Once this dead person shit on me. Not so much on me, but it got on my gloved hand. I threw up. There is nothing more disgusting than the smell of a dead person’s fecal matter. And now you’ve learned something new on a Sunday. You’re welcome!

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  9. I thought I was the one with all the crazy jobs…

    No. Way.
    I’d rather clean bathrooms at the Statue of Liberty (yes, I did) than touch dead bodies.
    You got balls, lady. Lady balls.

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  10. Oh don’t you love the Lazarus reflexes, etc? I did my share of dead bodies being a medic and first responder for 10 years…of course many of those were dying on scene or in the rig or helicopter. Ya, I’m good with being done there. But, this was a fantastic post and an amazing experience for you, Mandi! 🙂

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  11. Boy you were quite the frisky young lady! Lol. Dead people are like sleeping kids I’m sure…much heavier than they look. I liked to hang out at the morgue next door to the police department when I was working downtown, mostly because I can’t resist a woman in scrubs, but also because it’s interesting stuff.

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  12. You want someone to nurse you, and they don’t wear the tiny little white uniforms anymore, so you’re settling for the current look? I don’t know, but if you say crocs turn you on, we can’t be friends anymore. And I’m serious about this. Crocs are a deal breaker.

    Like

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