I have a friend named Enid, a lovely redhead who should have been born in that era of noir and dahlias; she has a regal bearing that never suited this backwater river town; she even wears her lab coats as if they were sable instead of cotten twill. She scoffs at this every time I say it, but it's true. She works the zombie shift at the county morgue, a twenty drawer cell bursting with the dead. It's a place I frequent on an almost daily basis, a place I find comforting in the same way a dark, quiet house is comforting. Sometimes, the drawers are overrun with business and we stack our offerings like cordwood in a designated spot by the heavy steel doors that signal the entrance into the bowels of the forensics storage rooms.
The air of this stainless domain hangs heavy with the presence of chemical composition and natural decomposition. Enid tells me that she loves the aroma because of it's finality, says that the smell lets her remember that all things end and no one is exempt from its perfume; that death is but a counter-girl at some ritzy store, spritzing the public with tiny bulbed atomizers when they least expect it, told me to think about it...after a while, I realized that yes, it's a damned fine analogy; no one is ever quick enough to duck the unwanted spray, no matter how fast you sail by that counter-girl. They always seem to have such deadly aim... (Hardy Har Har).
Most nights, Enid's domain is glutted with end results, all laid out in various displays of violence and disease. She records the data the dead offer up, probing their wounds and telling tissue, listening with an ear attuned to their whispers.
She says she loves the job because of its continuance, and she always gives me this smile as she says it like she's divulged something secret and sweet...and that I need to just think about it. Enid is right, of course; her spread sheets and jotted notes detail each finished life in a way that adds links in the chain of continuity, each blue corpse lives on in the pages of her files; kept alive with black ink and post-its, paper-clips and sweat. She labels every file folder by hand, a testament, she explains, to the worthiness of the labor. On the upper corner of each, she affixes a tiny silver star so that no one rests in their paper beds without a beacon to light their way.
She hums show tunes as she works, Rodgers and Hammerstien, Lerner and Loewe, the entire score of Les Miserables; each in near-perfect pitch. It echoes against the walls, bounces back and forth between her sleeping company like belled laughter; if she leaves the door ajar, we can hear it beckoning as we wheel our stretchers down the tiled halls that lead us to her cells. Soft and lulling, it pulls us in as the sirens lured the ships, and entertains the ghosts that sit in silent witness to the proof of what has been.