The smell of formaldehyde hits your nose just as you open the door. It’s 3:00 AM and your hand searches frantically on the cold steel walls for the light switch. CLICK! The humming buzz of the overhead fluorescent light is now heard as a flickering, ghostly blue glow fills the room. You push your cart of pine-smelling chemicals, which you can barely smell over the odor of the formaldehyde, into the tiny room and begin to sweep. On your left is a large transparent drum filled with human lungs. “Funny,” you say to yourself, “how easy it is to see which lungs belonged to smokers.” You sweep past the drum and turn to face the blue, cold, steel examining table. The table is speckled with half-dried blood, and patches of human hair are clumped near the top of it, where the medical examiner removes the brains of the dead to be weighed.
You sweep around the table and under the shelves to the right. On those shelves sit glass jars filled with eyes, hearts, cancer-eaten breasts, and sliced up testicles. “I wonder what happened to all of these people,” you ask yourself, as you pour pine oil into your bucket. You look at your watch and realize that you have ten minutes before break, so you hurry and mop the blood-stained, yellowish tile floor, and scrub the exam-table free of human debris; then you put your mop back into your bucket and notice how the smell of the formaldehyde has been masked by the pine oil and how the examining table looks so much more sanitary without the bloody clumps of hair. You then exit the morgue while turning off the humming fluorescent light, notice how peaceful and clean-smelling the morgue is in the dark, then close and lock the door.
After putting away your cleaning equipment, you take your Coke and your Twinkie to the back of the hospital, sit on the stairs next to the bio-incinerator, and watch the smoke of incinerated flesh rise to the heavens, in the black of night, while enjoying your snack, and thinking about the bathrooms you’ll have to clean when you resume work.