He had always wanted to fuck a corpse, and now that he had done it, he didn’t feel so great. He sat in dejection next to the stiff, who looked the same. He had this night job cleaning up. He had work to do in the psychological department. He began to dance with the corpse in his arms, saying, “Don’t blame it on my mother, don’t you dare say she made me a monster.” He put her back on the table and rearranged her gown and fluffed up her hair right.

“My God,” he thought, “I do feel better.” Then he began to laugh, uproariously, in the room with the corpse he had just serenaded.

“Nothing is as bad as anybody says,” he thought. He stared down at the beautiful corpse tucked carefully under the pale blue sheet again, just as he had found her. He wouldn’t condemn himself because of one small act.  

“No way,” he said. “Who wouldn’t, given the circumstances?”

And he began to talk to her. “Honey, I’m sorry. I barely know you.”

She moved a shoulder in response.

“That’s okay,” he heard. “I was kind of lonely myself.”

So he pulled up a chair next to her and began talking more.

“My name is Mike. I work the night shift. I don’t have many friends. I do know a guy named Willis who seems okay with me, not like I’m the world’s biggest loser. I’m not. I’m just a pimply, gangly love machine. Oh, shit. I didn’t mean to offend you. My attempts at humor are pretty lame, aren’t they? He lives in my apartment complex, Willis. He says, ‘Hey, dude, how’s it going?’ when I see him in the parking lot or walking down one of the paths. He’s got a name patch that says Willis. Can I hold your hand? I’m going to hold your hand, baby. I think I love you.” Brushing her hair back, he loved her more than ever.  

“Yes, I think it’s real, forever, eternal.” He began crying, softly, holding her hand in his.

“She never gave me a chance.” The sobs came out harder and harder, uncontrollably, until he got up and breathed out calmly. He needed to go outside. He needed some air.

He left the door open in case the corpse decided to get up and join him outside for a cigarette, a midnight smoke leaning up against the wall, right by the two hearses parked under the stone archway in the wide driveway. It wasn’t creepy to him, none of it was. It was his life, being a janitor in a mortuary, a nobody-guy the dead could haunt and bother only to a certain degree. He had the upper hand. He had the nights to himself.

About the Author: Stephen D. Gutierrez‘s most recent work has appeared in [100 word story], Catamaran Literary Reader, Under the Gum Tree, The Los Angeles Review, The Manifest-Station and the Pact Press anthology Speak and Speak Again. A short story is due in the summer issue of Permafrost online. He teaches at California State University East Bay. www.stephendgutierrez.com