Angry

During my morning ritual of walking into the embalming room familiarizing myself with the dead who had been brought in during the night, I was hit by a feeling of what I can only describe as trouble. It was a palpable feeling, like something drifting through the air and it felt like it was coming from a man lying on a table nearest the entrance door.  I would have guessed him to be in his late sixties. He had a head full of salt and pepper hair, combed straight back and over his ears. He had a full beard and mustache neatly groomed and somehow, he looked angry. He had a tight expression, his eyes seemed strained and his lips were pursed. Laying at his feet were the clothes he would be dressed in for his funeral, overalls and a green and plaid long-sleeved shirt. I was taken back a bit by the overwhelming feeling that I should just leave him alone. So, I looked him over and read his toe tag but did not pat his head or arm like I normally would with our newly attained guests, I felt that he would not welcome the gesture.

On occasion my coworkers at this firm would pretend to leave for the day and then when they knew I was cleaning the building, alone, with the darkness closing around the building, they would sneak back in through a rear door and turn off lights, or turn them on, move things that I had already put away or open and close doors. I never knew if I was just really tired or if these jokers were hiding about, trying to scare me.

One night as I was cleaning the building after a late-night visitation. I had just started vacuuming the main hallway. It was covered in dark carpet and was long and wide and down each side was a series of doors that led to the viewing rooms. As I began vacuuming at one end of the hallway, I thought I heard a shout. I stopped for a second, dismissed it as the sound of the vacuum and continued. Then I heard the shout again, it sounded like “Stop it!” So, I turned the vacuum off and called out “Hello?” Silence. I called out again,” Hello, is somebody there?” Nothing. It had been a long day, I was tired, and wanted to go home, so I turned the vacuum back on, only to again here “Stop it!” Only this time there was a little more force behind the words. Now irritated, I turned off the vacuum, again, and went to search the building while calling out “Who’s there?” I checked all of the rooms, walked through the back hallways, I turned on all the lights to see if I catch a coworker hiding in a corner, but only found empty rooms and silence. I just wanted to finish my chores and go home, and I was getting angry.

As I walked into the embalming room, there was the man I had seen earlier. I don’t know if he was ever angry in life, but he definitely had a feeling around him that was harsh. I asked him if he had yelled at me and when he didn’t answer, I giggled at myself for expecting a dead man to talk. I turned off the light and left the room.

As I walked back through the hallways to continue my tasks, some of the lights I know I had previously turned on were now off. This made me think for sure that it was my coworkers, so I started calling their cell phones to see if I could hear ringing from a corner and catch my joker. Everyone I called answered their phone, there was no one else was in the building. Baffled and irritated, I went back to my vacuum and turned the switch on, then as clear as ever I heard “Stop it!”, the voice sounded as if the person was standing right in front of me! That was it, I was done, this was too weird. I left the vacuum where it was, turned off all the lights and made my way out of the building. On my way out, I spoke to the angry man again. I told him to rest in peace but guaranteed him that I would be back in the morning to finish the rest of the vacuuming and he would just have to deal with it! And if it was him.  He was not the only one who was angry that night!

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About Chelsea Tolman