Flash in the Pan
A Quarterly Posting at Tiny Lights
Flannel Clad Corpse
by Jay Halstead
I've always wanted to find a dead body. Not necessarily a mutilated, bloody stump of an ex-human being (although…now that I think of it, that would be pretty cool, wouldn't it?) No, just a plain old dead body. Of course that's another question altogether: is there even such a thing as a "plain, old" dead body? I certainly don't know but I'd wager a mortician could probably answer that. Or a coroner maybe. But I digress.
I've actually envisioned my discovery many times. I'm just strolling through the woods, birds whistling, leaves rustling, squirrels chattering when VOILA -- a dead guy! Now, at first I can't tell -- is he just cat-napping or has he actually gone beyond his expiration date? I study him for a moment before sneaking closer. The nearer I get, the more the warm flush of exhilaration mushrooms out from the pit of my belly.
He's seated with his back against the trunk of an old beech tree. It's smooth, silvery bark is certainly more comfortable than the craggy roughness of the maples or oaks in the vicinity, but I can't yet tell -- is he breathing? Is he not? The ragged flannel shirt he has on makes it impossible to tell. He's probably just snoozing or meditating but maybe…just maybe…
As I draw closer I see his eyes are closed. Didn't I hear somewhere that when you die your eyelids creep open? On TV and in the movies people are always running their palms over a corpse's face to close their eyes. Fact or fiction? I know I can't trust everything that happens on TV or at the theater (I mean c'mon, does anybody really believe MacGyver can construct an explosive device from a stick of gum, three bobby pins, an empty jar and six inches of duct tape?) But still -- open or closed? Alive or dead? Hmmmmm…
People invariably ask, "Why would you even want to find a dead body?" My standard response goes something like this: "You know that guy that approaches the animal carcass in the woods? The one that works his way through the stench of death and decay to poke at the partially decomposed remains? The fella that takes home a bone or a tooth or maybe a swatch of fur as a memento? Well, I'm that guy."
Hopefully it goes without saying, but just for the record: I won't take part of the dead dude home with me. I'm not THAT guy! Nah, just finding him will be sufficiently amusing. Sure, maybe I'll poke him with a stick (or a finger?) a couple of times out of curiosity but I swear I won't take any parts home. As they say - "leave only footprints, take only memories."
I know, it's weird. I'm weird. Whatever… Everyone has secret desires - I just discuss mine more openly. How about you? Got any secrets? And hey....wanna go for a hike in the woods?
Jay Halstead, Wordsmith Apprentice
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