A soul passed from earth to somewhere else and the halls are still dark, the hospital still smells of urine, we still laugh and talk over our coffee about sex, old times, and the new conspiracies. The souls come and go. We supervise their shell while their spirit floats away and then we cover them with a sheet, wheel them down the hall, and place them in the morgue. While they die we push drugs into veins, rush around, feel we can stop the whole natural process, do our best to defy God, and realize sometimes God won't be defied.
He died last night, but I don't remember his name. I asked for it a dozen times while I completed the paperwork, but I still don't recall. We performed the death dance; we worked all our medical magic to no avail. His daughter and wife watched as his soul escaped to some eternity, while we fought to keep it here: a flat line across the screen, the doctors somber nod as she stated the time, the peaceful look of the dead, the smell of heat, the heaviness of eternity, the screams and tears of the loved ones as they fell to the floor and sobbed. I searched myself for emotion, I found none. The song "I Will Always Love You" swelled from the ward's stereo. It might have added emotional effect if it hadn't have been so loud. The light outside the dead man's door flickered, and I knew I had to call maintenance about it. The nurses gathered outside the glass and gaucked at the dead body. Many traveled back to their stations, and told a story of their battle against death. They all tried hard to save his life when they tell their stories.
The man died for hours. He died a little every hour of his life, but the final hours were obvious. He gurgled as he gasped for air. We heard his moans for help, although we had closed the glass door to shield us from them. Not due to pure immorality, but because we couldn't do anything. It is terrible to hear a man gasp for air. To hear him drown when he is not submerged. We watched the monitor as his heart deteriorated under the stress, we wagered money on his remaining time, we talked about children, wives, school, the past. We laughed at jokes, and at times we grew silent. I thought about things. All thoughts ended with "life is short," and then he died.
I wheeled him down on a broken gurney, the front left wheel didn't allow me to steer and the gurney pulled, so I collided with the wall a couple times. The cold steel stung my hands, and the wheels clacked like a train rolling down an iron track. The nurses stared as I walked with a reverent demeanor. I wiped my hands to warm them before I tried all three keys to open the morgue door. When the lock turned over, I heard the metal grind vibrate inside the morgue. Big, lonesome, empty, cold, all metal, it reminded me of the end. I wheeled him into the freezer, pushed the gurney, and stood at the door as the gurney clanged into the back wall. I said a goodbye, closed and locked the door, and I bought sodas for everyone. I returned and washed my hands. They tingled as the chill crept away. Life was normal for me while a family drove home alone.