I could not let this day escape without comment. I would like to share a story with you all regarding my early days as a morgue clerk. This is a story I haven’t shared with many. In fact, it gives me the chills whenever I think about it. Wrap up in something warm, turn out the lights, and get ready for a freaky, friday the 13th tour down memory lane.
Several years ago I worked evenings at the morgue as a clerk. It was great student job. I studied in complete silence, occasionally checked in a corpse, and slept for most of the shift. I arrived promptly at 1630 hours every afternoon and performed all of my housekeeping duties quickly. This afforded me more time to study while I awaited death to come knocking at my door.
At this time in my life I was newly married and we had a sweet, baby girl. When dinner time rolled around my wife and baby girl would bring dinner to me. They would sometimes spend the hour with me while I ate. It was nice to have company, otherwise I was completely alone in the building – aside from the dozens of corpses asleep down the hall.
One evening in particular is burned deep in my memory. My wife and daughter arrived with dinner just after I had received a corpse. I transferred the body from the mortuary cot to a metal autopsy table and wheeled the table into the crypt to keep cool overnight. It was the same routine I’d followed for several months, so I thought nothing more of it.
I greeted my wife at the door and led her into the room set aside for the morgue clerk to stay overnight. The room had a place to sleep and a place to eat. I sat down to eat the lovely meal that my wife had prepared, but our infant daughter would not allow my wife to sit with me. She fussed violently in my wife’s arms and buried her face in my wife’s chest.
My darling wife said, “I guess she’s not going to let me stay today. Sorry, Babe.”
“That’s alright,” I said. “I have a lot of work to do anyway. I’ll see you in the morning.”
Several days later I was at work and again my wife brought dinner. This visit was entirely different. My wife sat down and ate with me. Our daughter giggled and played peek-a-boo with an imaginary friend over my wife’s shoulder. We thought it was funny, but didn’t think any more of it that night.
The following week was very busy at the morgue with many deaths. I was very busy on my night-shift receiving several deaths – all violent in nature. When my wife came to visit with baby daughter in arms and yummy food to eat we experienced the same reaction from our daughter that we had seen a week prior. She fussed and screamed and clawed her way into my wife’s neck. She literally climbed into the nap of her neck and would not let my wife sit comfortably. Finally, my wife apologized to me for leaving so early and stood up. I escorted them to the door and as soon as they had exited the building my daughter calmed down.
The whole experience intrigued me, so I decided to investigate. I reviewed the case files of the deaths from the prior week and compared them to those of the day. I also reviewed the cases from my previous shift when my daughter was pleasant.
I discovered that on the day my daughter was pleasant and giggly I had received at the morgue several older people who had died naturally and somewhat peacefully. Also, that night, I checked-in a small child who died suddenly and unexpectedly. In contrast, on both nights when my daughter was unpleasant and didn’t want to stay I had received violent homicide deaths and several violent suicide deaths including one prison inmate.
My wife didn’t visit much after I relayed my discovery to her. She would stop by to deliver dinner, but wouldn’t stay long. It wasn’t much later that I took a daytime position at the Medical Examiner’s Office and haven’t worked a night shift since.
Happy Friday the 13th everybody. Please enjoy the following Twilight Zone intro courtesy of SigleTelefilm.