The Body by: M. R. Vega
The incessant and grizzly alarm went off like a banshee. Gerald adamantly settled his drool-soaked pillow over it and nestled over the blaring time. Bringing it to a muffled blurb of noise that was comparable to a trash truck hauling waste. ‘trash truck? Thought Gerald in a blind and sleeping stupor. His eyes were wide and opened in a blink of a moment’s breath. “Trash Truck! Fuck! Work!” He grabbed the alarm and saw that it had only been blaring for a matter of minutes and quickly jumped into the nearly still wet one piece with ‘Waste Management’ printed on both sleeves and the back. He cringed and clammed up while slipping the suit over his, what was dry a moment ago, and let out an angry grunt hoping his nethers gained temperature again and quickly. He looked at the tall and long mirror, thinking this must be what a wetsuit feels like while he angrily scrunched his face at himself shaking the image away with a brisk walk to the back of the house. The smell of mildew, though not manifested yet was all he could think about while grabbing his cap.
He’d already checked on his dad, his dad’s respirator and heart monitor were all in check. He also knew the morning nurse, JJ, who’d be in early to bathe the old geezer. Gerald had intended on bringing lunch for the nurse and him to share. But probably would cower from doing so like he always did. JJ was always sweet, always gentle no matter the day who’d happen to carry a curious look of gentleness that was shared with Gerald. He swore she gave him an eye. Secretly Gerald hoped it was one with wanting and an aspiring light behind the iris, maybe a wanting of something tender. Then again, maybe Gerald thought himself to be crazy.
This was usual of his mindless hopeful endeavors, an incurable hesitance that always seemed to manifest a negative contribution to his already loaded life. He shook the silly thought still keeping his fingers crossed for good intentions and hustled to the urn sitting atop the back counter near the door. It was narrow, flask like and near the same thickness. Though its weight was an absolute hull in that it was complete obsidian stone. What was within the sacred urn of Gerald’s was his Mi’ma. An old shrew, a woman who only shared her heart and kindness among love and care with Gerald. Little would she have ever thought it’d translate into him hoisting her dead soul with him everywhere. He kissed the stone gently with admiration and nestled it in a breast pocket of the jacket sticking to the damp jumpsuit he wore. He then walked out the door with a sigh of deep relief and jumped into his beaten sedan. Today he’d get to haul the shit, the cans, the mess of it all. He had the gloves, the boots, and the face mask in case and prepped for the foulest. Gerald drove quickly to the plant. Clocked in, grabbed the truck keys, route checklist, and clipboard. He threw the keys up at the awaiting driver; Eddie Viego. Their manager thought drivers and baggage handlers should be shifted, that way they all knew one another and helped with establishing a community camaraderie. It was gradually aiding in Gerald’s growing ambivalence to work communities. He begrudgingly jumped in the passenger chair gave a fist bump and kept his mouth tight. Thankfully he’d be hanging on the back end of the rig within twenty minutes. It was one of the luxuries of the job.
He came to realize he was vehement in his dislike of contact with others let alone the genuine niceties he was expected to relinquish through the day. He cringed at the thought of ‘chatting’ with another man, nodding at a woman bidding them a good day, or smiling at an elder, he felt he was always over the top and didn’t know when to zip his lip. Therefore he enjoyed not having to need those attributes ready to share at a call. The drive alone to the route’s start was a good beginning of the day, if he could only disregard the blaring alarms and wheezing machinery his father needed to breathe. Gerald grasped at the stone urn sitting in his chest pocket and smiled faintly. Eddie, as it so happened, had managed to weasel his way into riding this specific route for the last three weeks and made it where Gerald was always his trash hauler.
Gerald didn’t ask only assumed as he was likely right in the request. Eddie was one of those types, the ‘hands clean’ characters where even if a boss did see him tweak the system, they’d let it slide. Gerald didn’t mind. As long as Eddie didn’t burn his ears it’d be a peachy start to the beginning of the month.
They drove on and once at the starting spot, Eddie gave Gerald a tough tap and stated the “machine can’t feed if it doesn’t have a feeder bruh” then cackled softly to himself more than to Gerald and sipped at his 44oz plastic mug filled with likely coffee. Gerald smirked and hopped to the back going about his way. He jumped atop an anchor meant for his arm and kicked at the side making a loud echoing thud.
The weather was pleasant thought Gerald, his father was hopefully being tended appropriately and Eddie wasn’t all that bad a driver. Long as they didn’t deal with oversized hauls, today’s work looked as though it’d be wrapping up early. He smiled a big grin and nodded at the driver behind their rig. This surprised him and immediately he thought of JJ. Being aware of the ridiculous hope he laughed at himself and jumped off at the next house. The sun was barely making its appearance, the driveway’s lights were both on and bright. The extended drive curved to a three-car garage and Gerald scoffed. ‘If only’ he thought. The bushes were trimmed, the garden recently watered and the trash at the drive’s curve was abundant. Eddie opened his window and hollered ‘good luck!’ before sipping away at his coffee again. The boxes were nearly crushed and folded in a manageable spread that made hoisting them to the truck easy, the two company buckets also easy. The large garden green trash bag though was too much. He gave it a try and plopped on his back end with bad footing. Eddie ripped the door open, jumped out laughing, and came to give a hand. “You good? He laughed with riotous glee and apologized, “That was too funny Ger, your ass alright?” Eddie smiled nervously and helped Gerald up. Gerald brushed himself off and thanked Eddie to which Eddie brushed a fictitious foul critter off, letting Gerald know it was good. “Let’s get this lug to the compactor Ger.” Eddie said. He bent down to grab one end of the bag before quickly stepping back and waving the air around him. “Oh god! You smell that?” Gerald didn’t, his nose had grown blind to the smells wafting about and bent down with a quick jump regretting the choice “What is the hell is that?”
“How’d you not notice before Ger, fuck?” Gerald stammered and looked at the oversized bag, then shrugged and tried moving it again before gagging and almost wretching his morning coffee. “Don’t do that again! Whatever’s in there, moving it, makes it worse. Don’t touch.” Eddie straightened up and tapped his shoe on the driveway.”I’m just gonna rip it open and we’ll transfer it to more bags. Go get the bags behind my seat.” Gerald abided and was back in an instant where he found Eddie further from the bag on the floor pointing in horror at the bag.
Gerald slowly turned to look at the green trash and with an equivalent horror like Eddie’s shuddered at what he was looking at. “What do we do?” Gerald asked cautiously and softly. “That’s a dead body Ed, we can’t just throw it in the rig and crush it, we gotta call the cops man.” Eddie looked at Gerald with a grimace and wide eyes, he then got closer to Gerald’s face, scooting his rump closer “No.” He stated and slowly got up. “We’re gonna fold ‘em, bag ‘em in those” he pointed at the bags Gerald was holding. “and toss ’em into the rig. Kapeesh?” Gerald looked at him in horror and stepped back now far enough he could smell the cut grass of the neighbourhood and looked around in terror “What the fuck Ed? That’s insane, I’m not ‘folding a dead body’, we need to report this. I’m gonna grab the walkie.” Eddie puffed his chest a bit and stepped in front of Gerald aggressively and gritted. “You’re not calling anybody. You can’t. Plus its trash isn’t it? It looks like an old frail man or lady, Ger. I don’t think it’d take much.” Eddie shrugged clamping one arm over the other expressing ease.”Stop, shut it you filthy wretched Fuck! Ed, I’m not bending some old body, they deserve more.” Eddie angrily stomped a foot and hit the green bag with a boot. “I’m not losing my job for this, let’s just get rid of the body.”
Gerald gave a look of terror as he grabbed at the lump inside his jacket. “I won’t,” Gerald says while aggressively shaking his head back and forth, “and there’s got to be a better way of dealing with this Ed, come one man, let’s just put the bag and all in the passenger spot.” Eddie threw his hands up cussing and clenched a fist before glaring at Gerald again. “I said no to the cops, I’m saying no to it sitting with me while I drive, and I’m gonna clock you one if you don’t just help me out it into the rigs teeth…Got Me!”Eddie’s casual demeanor had evaporated and what stood before Gerald, was a brute. Ed reminded Gerald of his dad before the sick came. All that was missing was a gut and beer, he choked before letting the smirk and scoff emit from his throat.”Ed we just need to walkie this in man, they’ll tell us to leave it as is, call the cops and bingo. We’re outta here and back on to working tomorrow. I’ve read the manual through and through. Hell “if you think it’s too shocking” you could even get some personal time Ed. Go on a binger and breathe? You know?” He said as he tried playing his nerves off and smiled an excruciatingly difficult grin at Eddie shaking his head with absolute and adamant approval. He almost shouted “Sounds great don’t it!?”Eddie sighed a bit and let his fists loose. Gerald quietly whooped and slowly headed to the rig before Eddie clocked him in the back of the head, hard. Gerald felt each separate knuckle collide with the back of his neck right below his skull. He squinted as his legs buckled and fell to his knees while Eddie started for the green bag and once nabbed, dragged it toward the rig as diligently as he could. Eddie hoped Gerald’s dazed self would hopefully have passed out while he heaved and struggled moving the rotting dead to the awaiting rig. He managed to move it about twelve feet and was quickly surprised to hear a heavy grunt and feel the slap of a clenched hand against the flat of his back. Gerald stood there teeth clenched and teetered between wanting to smash a fist in Eddie’s face or just haul him to the rig and make Eddie use the radio himself. “Stop being a fucking idiot Ed!”
“Fuck you Ger, you don’t know how long it took me to get signed on this, especially after getting out, I’m not doing this. People die every day, hell ain’t your pops on the outs? At least getting closer and closer, yeah?” Eddie stood there clenching his jaw as though there was gum and shrugged his shoulders anxiously. Gerald looked at him dumbfounded. He thought to himself, ‘it’s that simple, just radio it in, and ta-dah!’. He looked at the open bag, and smelled it’s reeking, covering his nose all while still trying to figure out the gender of what was in the bag, rotting. He knelt down, patted the breasts pocket of his jacket, and lifted the bag a bit to see clearly.
It was an old bloodied woman, probably 140 pounds, black hair, graying, wrinkled, and bruised. She was clothed but probably broken, Gerald could see an ulna sticking from the forearm and saw the neck looked peculiar, surreal, he thought it’d probably be found to be broken. He was enveloped by a morose notion and looked at Eddie with a saddened general look at nodded at the bag.
“We gotta call the cops man, somebody brutalized her, look!” Gerald said as he pulled the bag open further and made sure Eddie saw the broken bone and neck.”I told you, I’m not doing it Ger, I’d rather toss you and the bitch in the rigs teeth and tell ’em you just walked off.” Eddie growled through grimy teeth and checked Gerald who quickly slid back on the driveway and looked around for anything to use.
Eddie took another step toward him continuing. “It’s not like anyone will miss you Ger, you’re a droll, your fathers been stuck in a bed since I met you, no one sees you bru. You’re like a fly on the wall man. And now you’re trying to be high and mighty, does this make you better? You think it will get you stardom bitch? It’s an old dead hag, she just needs to be dumped, she’s fucking trash Germ.”
He took another step toward Gerald, which Gerald copied toward Ed. Eddie scoffed at Gerald and smirked while taking an empty swing at him who was too far to meet with skin. With the miss and Ed nearly losing his balance Gerald charged quickly and pounced on Ed who yelped and fell to the ground. His face hit the concrete hard and Gerald saw the blood first before seeing a tooth loudly clatter as it hit the hard ground. Gerald pushed off of Ed and quickly stood up with his hands rolled into fists and awaited a banshee of force. Gerald looked at Ed, he still was on the ground, almost crumpled and unmoved. “Ed? Come on Ed, get up! Ed!” Eddie didn’t move and Gerald swooped down to the ground on hands and knees checking the vitals on Eddie’s wrist. He felt nothing and Ed’s arm moved fluidly at the grasp, he went to move Ed and felt a crack within the body and was sure something snapped. He breathed heavily and nudged a shoulder of Ed’s while looking at the green bag. He nudged Ed’s foot, looked at the time, nudged Ed’s body again, stood up wiping his hands off on his thighs. He breathed a heavily weighted sigh and walked to the two bodies. He gazed at them for a long time before seeing the sun was almost fully up and grabbed the green bag. The hydraulics could be heard squealing their agonizing screams as the trash loader compacted the remaining trash while Gerald placed the green body bag into the passenger seat. He waited to hear the hydraulics release and lift then hopped over to the driver’s seat. He patted at the lump in his breast pocket, gave a subtle smile to the mirror, thought of asking JJ out for a drink before shifting the truck to first gear and heading to the next pickup.