Author: Kara Adamo.
I thought it was over.
It had been years. I was sure we had moved past this. I was older…wiser.
I had written 3 Dead Things installments. I had done my part.
I even left…fled through the night and wound up landing 5,000 miles from home so I could recuperate. High up in the mountains, the Dead Things stories were but a memory…a faint shadow in the back of my mind.
So firm was my belief in these delusions that I managed to convince myself to float back down to my swamp and get on with life. I had a clear head. I could press forward with reckless abandon.
And then, just when I had brewed some tea and sunk myself down into my chair, I made a horrible, derailing mistake.
I went online.
Dearly Missed, Long-Lost Readers, it is my most unfortunate and regretful displeasure to present to you…
Dead Things, Part 4.
When I was a toddler, my parents decided I was lonely.
I say it this way because I am fairly certain that all toddlers talk to themselves and that my parents were merely casting their desire for a second-born on to their unknowing daughter in a fervent attempt at rationalizing a possible replacement. Or maybe they just were in a phase where they liked babies.
Or they wanted a backup.
Either way, I ended up with a little sister I lovingly call Rickie.
Wonderful as this is, when Rickie was born some of the adults in my life realized how traumatic such an ordeal would be for a three year old. As such, I was given a gift. It was a stuffed lamb that I cleverly named Lamba.
Lamba was a boy—my male twin, to be exact—and he had his own voice in a weird accent nobody has ever heard before or since.
Lamba is the toy I clutched as I slept.
Rickie had a butterfly blanket.
I know many other children who had dolls or teddy bears that served very much the same purpose. They are inanimate best friends that comfort you as you slip off to that weird little dream land every night.
As adults, we generally lose our necessity for these objects. They become cherished knickknacks on our shelves or are hidden away in trunks and attics.
We learn to clutch our pillows—or perhaps a pet. Eventually, we find other adults with which to co-sleep. Cuddling becomes the adult version of clutching a teddy bear.
If you are an adult who still clutches their teddy bear, please don’t tell me. It is better that I never know. I like my delusions, remember?
But even if you are—for arguments sake—one of those strange grown people that still requires that little bit of comfort to ward off the boogie man…my assumption is that this toy or blanket or whatever has, in some corner or other, a tag bearing a name brand.
Or it is something that your auntie sewed you…or at least it is full of plush and polyester.
My assumption, dear friends—and forgive me if I am assuming without cause—is that your object of choice is not full of the rotting, decomposing organs of your former husband.
In Belgium, there lives a woman whose choice was exactly that. For a year.
We do not know her name, but we do know his. Marcel H. was 79 years old when he died of what is thought to have been an asthma attack. His wife, stricken with grief, chose not to say anything to anybody.
Instead, she cuddled this slowly mummifying corpse until her rent was late enough times in a row for authorities to wonder what was going on.
Naturally, this poses a few questions for me.
1. Why Did Nobody Report the Smell?
I am no pathologist. I have delved into many different studies in my time, but that one never made the list. I am a big baby with a weak stomach and I could never psychologically handle the idea of dissecting frogs in biology.
But I do know that things smell when they start to rot. Despite the smell emitting from this flesh covered insect trap, neighbors never reported anything strange. I would like to know why.
Was their place already that bad? Could they have been possible contesters for the show Hoarders? Did he smell that bad before he died?
I imagine cracking a window would not have cut it. Perhaps she owns a thousand scented candles that she burns all at the same time. I know that those little wax cones work really well for my shoe closet. Maybe that did the trick.
2. Was He More Pleasant to Sleep Next to Post-Mortem?
People have strange sleeping habits. My sister used to kick like a jackrabbit in her sleep when we were kids. It was astounding. She would jolt her legs back and thump like a character in Bambi until the wee hours of the morning.
She may still do it. I refuse to find out. I am a bruiser.
Then there is my best friend, Kelli. Kelli is a terrifying sleepwalker. She lives an entire second life completely unconscious. You will wake up and she will just be staring at you from glossed over eyes, just murmuring to herself in her sleep. Stephen King should really look into making a character based on it. Frightening stuff.
I think I drool.
No—that’s incorrect. I know I drool. I am not a salivating Labrador or anything like that, but I definitely give most toddlers a run for their pacifiers.
Which is strange, given my thing about spit, but that is neither here nor there.
Perhaps Marcel was a wretched snorer like my grandfather or my great aunt. Maybe the neighbors never reported anything because they were so overwhelmed by the sudden quiet that they merely counted their lucky stars-er-sheep and called it a night.
Perhaps he was one of those people that talks in their sleep. Nothing is more terrifying, if you think about it. There you are, reading a book, and then suddenly the person next to you starts babbling about unicorns and spaghetti monsters. It does not matter if they have done it for years. It’s spooky every single time.
So maybe she simply relished in the fact that, finally, he had shut up.
But of all of the things people do when they sleep…kicking, sleep walking, drooling, talking, snoring, etc…one thing seems to be relatively consistent.
Usually, they are breathing.
3. Did You Ever Worry About Pissing Off His Ghost?
As an adamant nonbeliever, I am not necessarily suggesting that this could actually happen. But, as an adamant nonbeliever in any certainty beyond the lack of someone’s pulse meaning death, I am also not tossing the idea aside completely.
As we have already established, I clearly know nothing.
While there has been a separation of Church and State in Belgium since the drafting of their constitution in 1831, there is still a predominate sway toward a life of faith. 71.51% of the population considers themselves Christian. In fact, aside from a mere 22.31% that claims either atheism or agnosticism, everyone else seems to believe in some sort of after life.
It seems logical that this little 70-something year old woman probably falls in that category.
I never knew Marcel, but I know that if my significant other was clingy enough to clutch my stagnant, smelly, rigid corpse every night, I would have a few choice words for him.
Then again, I am not always a huge fan of extended cuddle time, anyway. At first, sure, but throughout the night I am likely to kick myself free. Eventually, I get claustrophobic.
Since this is my fourth issue of the Dead Things saga, I guess I now have to be on the alert. Evidently, I had not heard it all…and I probably still haven’t.
So I have decided that we, as a group, need to set a series of ground rules. For those of you who will not understand my references, I will be turning each of these rules into hyperlinks to the corresponding Dead Things story. We shall call this list The Dead People Rules.
- Dead People Rule Number 1.
- We do not eat dead people. We are not cannibals. If they are cremated it does not mean that they are well-done. Under no circumstances is another person, dead or alive, to be literally consumed by a loved one or stranger. You are not a vulture. Go to the supermarket.
- Dead People Rule Number 2.
- We do not ride around with dead people. They are dead. Let them rest. This is not a real-live remake of Weekend at Bernie’s. And leave their credit card alone. It is still stealing. Let the government take care of that. They hate competition, anyway.
- Dead People Rule Number 3.
- We do not wear dead people. This includes Buffalo Bill psychopaths as well as the unfathomably creepy people who pay money to turn their loved ones into jewelry. I do not care how well those earrings set off your eyes and your outfit. If it used to gasp, do not add a clasp.
- Dead People Rule Number 4.
- We do not sleep next to dead people. I am freaked out by seeing a corpse in a casket. I cannot imagine viewing one as a teddy bear. Plus, as I hinted earlier, within a week it starts to mummify and bugs start crawling around inside. The only time that is ever cool is in the old 1990s cult classic, Beetlejuice. I do not care how many awesome pairs of striped tights you own; you will never be Lydia Deetz.
- Dead People Rule Number 5.
- Necrophilia. I will not blog about it. Just don’t do it.
So I hope that five is enough for now, but at this point I have learned my lesson. I realize now that having my guard down is a fool’s mistake.
So, dear ones, until next time…