Crankwood Chapter 19 The Disposal

As Nan marched forthrightly into the coldroom she knew her reasoning was correct. She knew that she was doing the proper thing. Both in coming here and in doing what she felt she had to do. Perhaps not in the eyes of the law. Civil or Church, but certainly in the eyes of justice. Everyone knew that the law and justice were never the same thing. So, bravely, she justified herself.

After shocking Tommy and causing him to, cursing, spill tea, she now proceeded to collide with Albert as he stood in the doorway. He was considering the sheet covered body in the centre of the dim, cool, frosting space. The blue expelled air curling and clasping about his head as she, in turn, watched his shocked reaction to her sudden presence.

Now silent, he accepted Nan’s presence with a nod of determination and just as quickly he understood her justification.

Together they crossed to the body. Nan humming Jerusalem, ‘and did those feet in ancient times’, and Albert breathing quickly. Again together they removed the soiled sheet from the dirty body, pathetic now in its sullen decomposition. Nan, with a certain incongruent anger, folded the grey stained cloth before flinging it into the concrete corner of the room. As Albert drew a bucket of clear water, Nan then found and gathered the dead man’s clothing.

In a number of paper bags she found a sleeveless sweater with a spiders web of holes, front and back, but with a green and brown pattern still visible through the mud and grime. A brown apparently, or originally, nylon shirt and a pair of old, worn at the knees, brown corduroy trousers.

This walker, whoever he was in life, was dressed for camouflage. Dressed not to be noticed, to be unseen and disregarded by the society he so frequently haunted. He would appear only when necessary.

The stink of oldness and maggoty death, of earth and destruction was overpowering but largely ignored by the pair as they set about their unspoken work. It was only when, Nan, gloved now in thick black rubber, attempted to turn the sodden, bloated mass of flesh on her own, that the stench grew too strong. Forcing her to drop the body back on the slab and splash the surroundings with the evil, gagging juice of the dead.

Albert ineffectually, threw a bucket of cold water over the corpse and nasty secret little black things with multiple legs scuttled frantically out of the way.

Nan then found that trying to fasten the shirt collar around the pus swollen neck was impossible, as was fastening the, now too tight, trousers. Still, she attacked her gruesome task with all the purpose her small, Victorian frame could muster.

Albert was impressed by this forthright and complex old woman, but then he always had been. He felt that the choices made when younger were always, inevitably so wrong; but marriage to anyone, right or wrong, love or no, changed people. This he had discovered. The man Nan had eventually chosen to marry, was lucky beyond his experience but also doomed to failure from the very start. The poor, dead, drunken sod. The body they were so roughly and disrespectfully handling now was just such a lucky/unlucky man. Gain and loss, love and hate. You pays your money, you takes your choice, he thought as he placed the recently discarded winding sheet by the table and pushed the poorly dressed bloated corpse off and on to the tiled floor.

It landed with a wet, fish, stinking slap.

Tommy and Albert dragged their apparently melting, wet cargo out of the room, through their crowded workroom/ office and outside into the sunshine. In daylight a faint miasma could be seen gathering above the wrapped corpse. This instantly attracted every opportunist insect away from a sewage banquet to inspect the dragged corpse and its trail through the dust of the pathway.

“We should’ve used yon wheelbarrow”, complained Tommy, through the red hankechief tied ineffectually around the lower part of his face. The first words spoken since Nan had arrived.

“Shut yer bloody, gabbing trap”, replied Albert with some vehemence. “An get on with thi work afore some poor bugger catches sight of us”.

By the side of the path down to Ashes bird watching hide, was an apparently dry and suspiciously level patch of black, stinking mud. This was the detritus from the sewage outflows that Tommy had to dump every other week or so. The apparent solidity was, of course, false. A thick crust, cracking in the heat, had formed on the surface of a very deep and black viscous shit liquid. Surrounded with verdant green vegetation and Tommy’s prize tomatoes, this was the strange, and secret, funeral procession’s ultimate destination.

Nan had been left in the coldroom to clean up but now she hastened down the path through the gathering cloud of insects to catch up with the pair of workmen. It was necessary for her, she felt, to witness the disposal of the corpse.

She arrived just as the pair were debating whether the soon to be dumped body would require weight. This problem was neatly solved by fastening an old rusty chain around it. Whereupon, using a couple of equally bent and rusting, but handy, metal bars from a nearby fence, they levered the weighted body into the green festering mud.

It sank almost immediately, leaving foul smelling gas bubbles bursting with brown/green splashes across the surface of the soon placid pond. Memories remaining of an equally foul but justified deed.

Crankwood Chapter 19 The Disposal


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