The morgue attendant has me sweating embalming fluid, and I keep coming back.

The first step in being a good mortuary attendant is holding your mouth. There’s a soft thud as the nail-gun-like device in my hand fires a metal rod into the corpse’s gum line. Upper part Y lower jaw, of course; more hits. Step two follows: sew the mouth closed. The teeth come together stiffly when I connect the new pins with metal wire and twist them to take up slack. All the work stays behind those colorless lips, so when the molars finally snap together and I pry my fingers out of the corpse’s dry maw, the mouth falls into a passable imitation of a peaceful smile.

Step thr- what was that noise? I look up from the body, looking around the darkness of the mortuary with the annoyed agitation of someone trying to convince himself that he’s more embarrassed than scared. He is raining and after dark, with moonless rain drumming relentlessly on the window. For a moment, two of the drops run across the panel, side by side, and catch the light from the surgeon’s lamp above me, turning them into a crude facsimile of white, staring into eyes peering into the black, But that’s just my treacherous imagination. at work.

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