I have been putting this off for a while. Not because of repressed trauma or any sort like that. I am a notorious procrastinator. A lucid saunterer in the reeded marshes of the mind. A stagnatician so to speak.
Well, I am, or I was, a body-snatcher.
Body snatching is sort of the secret service of mortuaries. Creepy-crawlers, insomniacs, portal-walkers, those of the in-between. An usher, a Chauffeur. We don‘t sleep. We are mercenaries. On-call, waiting to pounce. Ready for anything at the drop of a hat. At least, if you want to make any money, you have to be this way.
A body-snatcher, or mortuary driver is some poor soul who is willing to stay within a certain radius of a certain mortuary and retrieve bodies for said mortuary upon the time of their passing. This radius means they are trapped in the web. There are a number of metaphors to be derived from the web scenario but really only one makes sense. I am the spider.
So, in nature, when a spider makes a web it‘s intent is to eat. A basic function which dictates the survival of the spider in question. When a funeral driver or removal technician as they call it officially, I may call it an extraction artist. You will understand later. I digress, the removal driver in question is thrust into this aerial web. There is a response time of approximately 30 minutes to make contact with this family of the deceased upon first-call of notification, usually from a hospice nurse if it is a residence or your standard run-of-the-mill hospital nurse in the Intensive care unit, where most people in hospitals will die if they are unlucky enough to die in the hospital and not make it home. Home being most likely the best way for a person to pass if they are with family, and loved. They will make sure everyone is accounted for and be at peace. Most, dying on their own terms. That is to say the death was inevitable but based on the controlled chaos of their situation they can decide roughly a 3 day window of time (like a fullmoon) in which they feel okay to die, then they do so.
So in a way, from an aerial grid, there is a web-like radius in which the removal driver must be to be in range of their area. Now, mortuary drivers used to sleep on-site at the mortuary before cell-phones. In a way this is more true to the traditional spider who waits in the center of the web patiently for some flying or jumping insect to hit the web. Then she follows the reverberation, wraps it, and sucks it dry. I think first they, after wrapping it, inject a venom of dissolution which liquefies the inside of their prey before sucking it up like a nutrient-rich smoothie.
Since the advent of cellular phones, if the driver in question is using a cell-phone and not a land-line from his or her own home, he or she will be on-call through their cellular phone to receive death-calls. If the removal driver is taking calls obviously they have to be within this certain range to shower, change, get a cup of coffee, do what you need to do to look presentable (enough) to be at the mortuary to pick up the fax and be on the phone with the family in question with an ETA (estimated time of arrival).
So to make a short story long. The removal driver is a spider in a web. And when someone passes away it acts like the stray insect. If the family chooses this local mortuary then they are called and the spider in question is dispatched. The only difference is the stray insect is usually still alive when it is ensnared in the web. This is a more obscure web, metaphysical. Sort of a plane of existence in the 4th dimension of the spider. It‘s physical world being our metaphysical analogy.
The spider waits. The driver waits. When some one dies the insect is then ensnared upon the metaphysical web of death. The removal driver, through the indications of the physical world moves blindly as spider upon web using GPS (Global Positioning System)or memory and finds the location of the ensnared insect or human, in this case. Just as the spider feeds upon the ensnared prey the human deceased is as the prey and is pounced upon, not literally, by the driver who may rely on the work to survive or buy food to eat and live.
The driver is nocturnal but they are also diurnal (which means you sleep at night. We, as humans, primates. We sleep at night, naturally for the most part. Some people are morning people and some people are night people but both implies a tendency for the day in relation to dusk or dawn. Still it is strange I think that nocturnal is a word more easily recognized by most than nocturnal. Perhaps we are more in tune with the nature of our surroundings than the nature of ourselves. Being that we are aware of the nocturnal night as it is a mystery and evokes our imagination. The night is strange and many of our worst fears are derived from it. If our fear is not darkness then the addition of darkness to our worst fear only adds to the Nightmare. Nightmares occur only at night, as implied by the name, so maybe word nocturnal creates the world of the nightmare in the mind, or maybe ‚nocturnal‘ is merely a word more well-known than diurnal. It sounds cooler anyway.
Another way in which mortuary drivers are like spiders is the spinning element. When a spider first arrives at it‘s prey, upon first contact it begins to spin the prey in order to wrap it up so as to devour it or preserve it for later. I am not sure what this term is called in the spider world but in the mortuary business we call it ‚rolling‘. When you are preparing the body for removal you must roll a sheet under it. We used white sheets and it also acts as a shroud. This is a very important part of the ritual.
Often when we roll the body inner fluids will gurgle up or, depending on whether they are stiff or not or how much they way, rolling is a very tedious process of many varying factors. Great care must be taken when rolling a corpse. The last thing a family wants to see is unpleasant liquid spilling out of their loved ones mouth. Once when I was at a mobile home park in the rural depths of the web I came upon a family that was extremely inebriated in the daytime. This was not uncommon. Often people are drinking at the scene of a deceased loved one, understandably, whether it is 6am or midnight there is often some adults imbibing in an adult beverage. Sometimes they partake in a bit too much alcohol and then, depending on the personality may be prone to violence. This comes with the territory. You are consistently meeting people on the worst day of their life so, a strange outburst of emotions is to be expected, and in fact, anticipated. Often when we make first contact with the family we are reading their mood that way we know what we are walking into at 3am in the middle of nowhere.
We roll the body one way with a rolled up white sheet and slide the sheet under the body from just below the rump and right above the shoulders. As a co-worker of mine said once. ‘Hip-bones are magical bones. With the hip-bone you can move someone like nobody‘s business’. The hop-bone and the shoulder bone act as a handle to lift the body slightly from one side, tuck the white sheet, and carefully roll the body to the other side pulling the sheet out from underneath so as to make a hammock that we then form into a cocoon around them. There is a great deal of permanence in this as oftentimes this may be the last time a person will see the face of their loved one.
So in effect, although we do not begin to devour the corpse at that point, this is very similar to the spider at the scene of its prey. Once I was watching a video of a wolverine pulling a stiff caribou corpse across the snow and I said to my friend ‚that‘s how I drag the bodies at work‘ somewhat jokingly and they said, ‚with your teeth?!‘ I thought this was funny and of course, no, not with my teeth.
Sometimes the family will request that the face remains exposed, and in this case the family wanted this so that the dead could feel the air and be facing the sky one last time as we had to remove the deceased from a cramped trailer home. Because of the angles there was no way that we could remove the body on a surf-board. This is what they call the board or cot that we can use to place the body upon to remove from tight spaces when we move them so as to get them out onto the gurney safely. In this case we left the face exposed at the request of the inebriated family which was a big mistake. This man was a lifetime smoker and when we tilted the body slightly to go down the steps of the mobile home black liquid began to flood out of his mouth and pool into the elderly man‘s sunken in eyes. So quickly I covered the face with the shroud so as to prevent the family from seeing such a horrendous sight as their last memory. They were sitting there and were upset at first until their friend, who had seen what happened, reassured them that it was for the best.