EPISODE 18 — The Devil Made Her Do It
Today, CJ and I are basically spinning our wheels…not much going on here at the moment, in the mortuary. They say “Death knows no holiday.” What wasn’t said is that apparently Death does like to go away without notice, sometimes for a week or two at a time. Without notice, means we all show up to work, whether or not there is actual work to be done. And of course, there always is. By that, there are plenty of other chores besides the directly death-related tasks.
So, we are scrubbing down walls, re-organizing chemical cabinets, taking casket inventories, and the like.
The boss, Mr. B has taken the day off…something he seldom does. That means CJ and I are mostly left to our own devices down here, in the embalming room. The staff upstairs seldom makes the trip to our ‘dungeon’ they just call on the intercom instead. That’s what makes it nice for me, anyway. Nobody would like to see ME, a house mouse, sitting about upon one of the embalming tables…in fact, nobody wants to see me, period! Except Chester, perhaps.
We enjoyed some laughs today, at one of her favorite pranks, which I have decided to share with you.
CJ admits she is a spirited girl with impish thoughts and ideas galore running through her head. She told me about a time she found the opportunity to pull a prank utterly irresistible, when she worked for a huge firm in the big city. She said it was one of those things that pops into your head without warning and begs to be brought to life.
I thought it was rather evil, actually. Read this, and see what you think:
It was the last 15 minutes to end of day in the monstrously huge ‘service center’ and all the prepared (embalmed, cosmetized, and/or dressed) bodies were put away. The legion of day-shift embalmers had washed and sterilized the instruments, and cleaned up the place, readying now to leave for the day. The unwritten rule here, though: Last embalmer done is the rotten egg. Translated: If an embalming order comes through with a priority status, the last embalmer gets to stay to do the work, with overtime pay, of course.
CJ was getting ready to hit the door when the clock struck 5, along with the others. However, one gal was still trying to finish up her work on a complicated posted case (autopsied). She still had a lot of suturing before she would be able to leave. The gal, Jill, was a little sad that no one else would be there to keep her company or walk up with her when she was done. Jill struck CJ as being a bit of an eccentric girl. CJ wondered how she’d ever decided to become an embalmer as she was so superstitious and down-right squeamish at times. Skittish, even.
As the embalmers began punching out, CJ saw the first-call men wheel a gurney in. This wasn’t a body requiring any priority or rush preparation, however. It would just be placed into the cooler until the authorizations were sent later.
This gave CJ a ‘splendidly wicked’ idea. She hurriedly made sure to punch out, then sought out a clean table and an idle first-call man. She was going to play a good one on Jill, still working in the embalming room. She knew Jill hated being the only one in this haunted place. (Yes, it was widely agreed, the place was haunted. But I won’t talk about that right here.)
With the assistance of a good-natured first-call man (driver), CJ lay on the table, and he covered her with a sheet. He followed her instructions, taking her to where Jill was. CJ could barely stifle the outrageous urge to bust out laughing, as she lay motionless beneath the sheet.
The table was rolled into the embalming room, and the driver waved some paperwork at Jill as he brought the table to a stop. He told Jill that this was a rush case and he couldn’t find anyone else in the building. Jill pulled off her face mask, with exasperation, and exclaimed that she was the rotten egg today! She was unable to hide her disappointment about being very late getting out of there on that day.
“Are you absolutely sure? Where is the embalming auth?” Jill demanded to see the papers in the driver’s hand. The rules were, no auth, no embalming. That was also the law.
As is habit with embalmers, they like to lift the sheet to get a look at the body, to estimate what will likely need to be done. For example, an autopsied body requires about twice the amount of time, especially for the suturing.
So Jill walks over to the table…
CJ holds her breath, keeping very still…
the sheet begins to come back…
CJ opens her eyes, and sits up stark-straight, shouting, “GOTCHA!”
Jill let out a shriek that probably did disturb some of the dead in the adjoining room. CJ had scared the cat-poop right out of her! Jill was aghast to see CJ pop off the table and nearly speechless for a few moments. In fact, a couple of surprising tears welled up in her eyes. That caused CJ to throw her arms around her and give her a “forgive me please” hug. CJ did not want to make anyone cry, for heaven’s sake. Poor Jill!
They all had a good laugh at that horrid little prank. The driver left as the two girls were still composing themselves. As an extension of the ‘olive branch’ CJ put on some gloves, found a sharp double-curved needle and helped Jill finish her case. They giggled and laughed as they walked up to the parking lot, friendship still intact. This was a story they could tell for years to come.
CJ said Jill never completely trusted her again after that. I thought to myself, would YOU?
© 2013, C.S. Thompson.