Sunday, March 23, 2008

DEEJAYS OF THE DEAD:
Kick Out the Jams, Motherfucker...
And Don't Touch the Casket...

After your death you were better have a bad epitaph than their ill report while you live.

- Hamlet, Act II, Sc. II, c. 1600 A.D. (Really Old School)

Hey deejay, just play that song. Keep me dancin', all night long.

- World's Famous Supreme Team, c. 1984 A.D. (Not-So-Old School)

OXFORD, Ohio (ZP) -- The tale began as such...

Two men in suits walked into a local electronics store, asked the salesclerk for help locating a replacement P.A. system. Theirs, they claimed, had burned out and they were on a tight deadline. The clerk, in an effort to make a quick sale, proceeded to show off the electronic store's wares...

Sounds pretty, well, normal, right?

The storyteller, the salesclerk, stared down into his fresh drink as if waiting for that next word, for the bourbon to free his tongue. Suddenly, like the blowing of a fuse or the sputtering of an old engine, his tongue caught up to his brain.

Dude wait! he said. No, this is weird. Dude! Shut up for a minute. It gets better...

* * * *

The guys weren't Men in Black, weren't extras from some lost episode of the X-Files, or Mormon missionaries looking to start a rock band. No, the suits were from a local funeral home, and were on a deadline to get a memorial service set up in time...

The salesclerk notified the pair that, well, to get such a P.A. on such short notice would be highly expensive and, more than likely, pure overkill for the mundane task of amplifying eulogies and graveside sermons. Instead, he suggested, he could do them a favor, loan them his personal amplifier rather than sell them something they really didn't need.

In his spare time, you see, the clerk also deejays at various bars and house parties in and around Oxford Fucking Ohio. And, being that there really hasn't been much work for a deejay in recent weeks, and his equipment's just been sitting around...

Fuck it. Why the hell not?

It was, after all, somebody's funeral. And, well, if it were his relative lying in state, he'd have wanted his departed loved one to have the best audio equipment possible, to be able to go out in style, with every eulogy and tearful remembrance heard by all, loud and clear.

Wait! he exclaimed as he sipped on his bourbon. NOW it gets creepy, dude...

* * * *

After work, the suits picked him up in their corpsemobile, loaded his precious deejaying equipment up like some cold old widow from the nursing home.

No, not a hearse. A corpsemobile.

Corpsemobiles are basically modified cargo vans, used by funeral homes to retrieve bodies from homes and morgues. Hearses are generally used for ceremony, limousines of the Dead built for those one-way trips to the graveyard. Corpsemobiles, on the other hand, do most of the day-to-day work, veritable garbage trucks built plain and rugged, built solely to move our Mortal Remains out of the way as quickly as possible.

Corpsemobiles are for pick-ups. Hearses are for deliveries. The Death Business is more complicated that it seems.

Dying's easy for those doing the dying. For all of the tragedy and sadness, well, death really does equate more with eternal rest. Actually working with the dead, however, is the responsibility of the living. It requires a dedicated efficiency, meticulous timing, an understanding that corpses, at the end of the day, are nothing more than the scraps left over from life's assembly line.

Once, I myself hitched a ride in the back of a corpsemobile, sharing space with the paid passenger, a teenager who'd been killed by a drunk driver. Her beer-swilling friend, the driver told me, had promised to get her home safe. Instead, she'd ended her prom night as nothing more than coroner-released cargo in a bloody prom dress...

Quite comfortable. Good suspension on those corpsemobiles. Almost overkill, really. It's not like most of the cargo will ever complain. But, well, deejaying equipment is, sadly, lmore fragile than your average dead body -- sometimes, those marvelous shocks and struts come in handy.

* * * *

Dude, that fucking stretcher was creepy! the clerk continued. Just thinking about dead people makes me... you know...

...Fucking weird shit, dude...

He shuddered, sipped his bourbon, ended his story.

At the funeral home, he sat up his loaned equipment in silence, with no audience other than the body of his benefactor. He didn't even do a proper sound check - none of the music he normally queued up in his sets seemed appropriate for the stage the mortuary staff had set...

He tossed back the last of his whiskey and ordered another.

There's something disturbing about, you know, being the Deejay of the Dead, dude.

I doubt any deejay would disagree with that assessment, actually.

- # # # -

11 comments:

stephan!e lee said...

hey J -

just stopping by to say hey.

+ that i like yr new profile pic. lots of "puttin out the fire" imagery on your blog these days.

where's that fire, J? and why so eager to put it out?

c ya,
stef

max said...

Oh what kind of Easter story is this? No resurrected corpses? Not one? In a story about corpsemobiles on Easter? You are just going to have to work harder. Sheesh.

EsotericWombat said...

aaaaand now I have the Monster Mash stuck in my head.

cooper said...

ha,ha,
A friend of mine has family in the funeral business. I remember him telling me a story about his father taking his great grandmother up to New England for burial in a corpsemobile. Her death occurred in Maryland so she had to be transported and this was the cheapest way as he was already a funeral director so he was allowed to drive the vehicle and transport dead bodies and he had to go to the funeral anyway as it was his grand mother in law. His brother in law drove along for the ride, no one else wanted to go with him they flew. They were stopped by the Connecticut State Police for speeding and when they told the guy there was a dead body in the back of the vehicle and explained they were trying to gt her their before she rotted - a lie because she had already been embalmed -- the cop freaked out and just told them to get out of their.

Death is strange, the way people deal with it stranger.

librarianwoes said...

I expected a reference to "Pump Up The Volume." I did, however, learn that pick-ups and deliveries are handled in different ways. Thanks, you learn something new every day!

The ZenFo Pro said...

Steph:
Lmao, you're the fifth person to ask me about the fire imagery. The inside joke here is, well, how goddamned annoying it is to have 18-19 y.o.s think that, well, supposedly I'm hot stuff. I think the whole thing is kinda silly, so, realizing that I had a pic that might work...

Lol, who's hot? Look at that profile again. The extinguisher. It's pointing away from me and towards, well, you and everybody else who stops by. We're all just as hot as the next guy or gal...

Max:
Lol, no, but watching folks stagger out of Easter services Sunday does remind me of George Romero flicks.

Wombat:
Lmao. At least its not Sabbath's "Children of the Grave." The deejay in question got so much shit for NOT playing songs during a soundcheck.

What I want queued up at my funeral's soundcheck?

1. Code Blue - TSOL (I wanna fuck, I wanna fuck the dead...)
2. After Forever - Black Sabbath
3. Living Dead Girl - White Zombie
4. Astro Zombies - The Misfits
5. Judgment Day - Method Man

Coop:
Yea, it's amazing the stories mortuary folks tell. A great-uncle of mine started out life as a mortician before switching to professional photography. He worked more than 40 years as a critically acclaimed news and sports photographer. Upon retirement, lol, he went back to the funeral biz, volunteering his time at a local home.

It's in the blood.

Woes:
Lol, I thought the Kick Out the Jams, MC5 reference would get somebody's attention...

:)

Anonymous said...

that was my cousin.
i'll bet you a million dollars

EsotericWombat said...

looks like you may just have started a meme, there.

Jinnet said...

The other half of the Spooky Librarians team works as a librarian for a mortuary college. Oh, the stories...

zydeco fish said...

A friend of mine -- wait, two friends of mine -- once had part time jobs in a funeral home when we were in high school. It made me suspicious.

The ZenFo Pro said...

Anon:
Lol, heh, I won't take that bet...

:)

Wombat:
Heh.

Jinnet:
You know, that may be the single coolest librarian job. Ever.

Well, except if the dead start reanimating, a la Return of the Living Dead...

ZF:
Yeah, it's a strange job. My uncle used to tell the strangest stories...