Sleeping with the dead

I’m certain this is no secret by now, not with the volumes of morbidity I’ve posted on this blog, but I am a macabre SOB.

Which I state as a prelude to some of the random thoughts bandying about my head this fine, beautiful Tuesday evening.

Maybe it was the traffic. Maybe it was that funeral.

A funeral for a fallen LAPD officer who was killed in Afghanistan. Condolences, sadness, yeah, yeah. Truly. But why in the fuck must they hold such public funerals on weekday mornings during the height of rush hour traffic? It took me 45 minutes to cross the width of downtown L.A. Let me make it clear…L.A.’s downtown is not breath-takingly vast. For such a large city, L.A.’s downtown is relatively compact and dwarfish. Whatever. It should not take 45 minutes to cross it.

The only thing worse than a 1 1/2 hour commute to work is a 1 1/4 hour commute going home on the same day. Courtesy of the Dodgers’ home opener. Sunset Boulevard through Echo Park was jammed as late as 6:30 with the drunken and partying gang-bangers or pseudo-bangers who have usurped the Dodger brand. Baldies in the Blue. Fuck. The Raiders left a big, empty ghetto void when they fled this city and it appears the hapless Dodger organization must now embrace its new inner city generation fan base.

Shitty commute day.
I was in my car almost 3 hours today.
That’s too much. It’s the reason I live close to L.A. and not out in the cookie-cutter boonies. I don’t get off on commute stop and go.

My thoughts lingered while I drove. On death.
Even as I drove home.

For a few fleeting moments tonight, as I drove by Grand Avenue, by the Burger King, I was sickened by the city.
Disgusted by everything I saw slithering outside my car window.

That dude with the long curly hair and ultra (and hopelessly untrendy) baggy jeans to accommodate His Rotundness. Even that dude. And his seriouly undersized backpack. Or was it a perspective thing? Was the backpack actually normal-sized…?

Thought of the times I’ve seen real live dead people in my life.
Not in that lame Haley Joel Osment way (and by the way, did anyone hate that overhyped piece of shit as much as I did?). Dead people.

As in real, cold, rigor mortified, stiff, dead people.
Dead in their tracks.
So to speak.

The two I’ve seen, dead in their deathbed tracks.
Death is seriously undignified business. Inglorious.
The twist of the mouth, the final empty stare, gazing into oblivion.
Skin taught, colorless.

Spending way too much time in my car today, too much time between lights, between bumpers, between morning and night…death revisited.

So much death.
Too much.

As a teenager, I remember having friends who had never been to a funeral.
And me…having been to over 10, easily.

Me…having lost 2 cousins in a car accident when I was 9…they were my age.
Losing relatives to the ravages of disease, accidents, all manners of death, way too early in my life for such excruciating life lessons.

Funerals, wakes, always the Death.
Visited upon me.
Somber masses, endless rosaries, obituaries, cemeteries, rainy burials, sunny burials, final farewells, I even went to a wake for unborn twins once.

Open coffin.
Tiny and pale. Unripened. So strange.

Death. My dearest, haunting friend. My chummy nemesis.
Always lurking around the corner waiting his turn.

Driving home tonight.
What hell hath wrought in that high blood-pressured, vehicle fumed commute?

We greet death slyly, welcome him through the backdoor while we linger at the front door where we wait for him to announce his random visit.

Never announced.
Bodies curl, still, waxen.

Once, drunk, I visited my Aunt’s grave at Calvary Cemetery in East L.A. It was late afternoon on a Sunday. I was shitfaced. I fell asleep on the grass, it was so beautiful. My own personal picnic.
Beautiful and peaceful. Calm.
The sky was glorious blue. A gentle breeze.
Lots of beer. Lots of it.
Lulled me to sleep, like a death lullaby. Close your eyes, sleep now…

I slept a long time.
One of the cemetery groundskeepers woke me up just minutes before the gates were to close.

I slept with the dead. Dead weight.
I wonder if he thought I was one they forgot to bury.