Micky awoke from a drunken slumber. He had passed out sitting on a stool next to his makeshift still in the cellar. In the distance he heard a muffled banging, then the creak of wood. He stumbled to his feet, kicking the empty liquor bottles that littered the floor. He came out of the closet and shoved the bookshelf back in front of the door to conceal it. He started the clamber up the stairs when the door opened. Yowling filled the space as Micky looked up and saw Lena standing there bouncing the screaming baby on her hip. Her face was red with anger, her eyes hard.
“There is man here with ambulance,” she said. Micky slowly climbed the rest of the stairs. She bared down on him as he reached the top. Her voice raised to be heard over the baby. “They knock on MY door. They wake the baby!”
“I can’t help that, Lena,” Micky muttered as he pushed past her. Lena’s lip twisted.
“You drink! Is this why you don’t come to bed? You rather sit down in cellar alone than sleep next to your wife like a respectable husband?” Lena followed him down the hall to the back door as she badgered him. “You don’t want to be respectable!” Micky stopped in his tracks with a laugh.
“Respectable? Working hard and putting food on the table. That’s respectable enough where I’m from,” he said. Lena scoffed.
“I go to the shops. The people, they whisper behind their hands and shake their heads when they see me. I know what they say about you!” Lena’s finger jabbed into Micky’s chest. “You and your dead people.”
Micky popped open the door hidden in the hall paneling. He grabbed Lena’s arm and whipped her inside. Both her arms closed protectively around the baby as she landed on the stairs leading up to the apartment.
“Go back upstairs,” he snapped before he slammed the panel on her scowling face. He stomped out the back door as he pulled his suspenders onto his shoulders. A man stood next to an ambulance in the driveway.
“Carl, it’s the middle of the night,” Micky exclaimed, a grin played on his lips.
“Sorry to ruin your beauty sleep, Mick. I mean it, it looks like its starting to show,” Carl chuckled. Micky joined in and followed Carl to the back of the truck.
“What d’ya got tonight?” he asked as Carl open the door.
“A couple of kids had a crack up on the county road, took the turn too fast. Romeo’s a little more beat up than she is,” Carl said with a shrug, “Clean ‘em up, put ‘em to bed and ma ‘n’ pa will be by in the morn-” Carl was cut off by a shriek. The men looked up as the apartment door burst open. Lena started chucking Micky’s clothes out the door and over the railing. Micky stood with his hands in his pockets as he watched a shirt float down to the grass. Lena reappeared with another armful of clothes.
“You can stay downstairs with your dead people!” she yelled before slamming the door shut again.
“Woman troubles?” Carl asked. Micky turned to him, but ignored the question.
“Why don’t we get them inside?” he suggested. Micky retrieved the mortuary gurney and soon the two crash victims were relocated to the basement. Micky and Carl lifted the second body onto the table. Micky crossed the room and dug around for a cigarette as Carl pulled the sheet back from one of the faces.
“It’s a shame. She was a bit of a looker, huh?” Carl commented. “How old would you say?”
Micky returned to the ambulance driver’s side and gazed down at the face. Bruises had already started to form across the pale skin and mixed with smears of blood that doused her blond hair. Her vacant blue eyes stared at the ceiling. Micky exhaled the smoke slowly.
“I’d say sixteen,” he replied. Carl nodded.
“Yeah, I’d suppose. Such a waste.” He dropped the sheet again with a sigh. “I ought to get back.”
Micky followed Carl back outside and watched the ambulance back out of the drive way. As the truck turned down the street Micky started slowly picking up the clothes that Lena had scattered across the lawn.
“Yeah, she threw my clothes all over the lawn, can you believe that? It’s not the first time,” Micky said. He was in a cheerier mood now. “It probably won’t be the last time either…No, no, it’s just the way things are. I hadn’t been out of the joint too long before I met her. So I suppose I could blame that for my not thinking it over. Lena wasn’t a good time girl, you see…Yeah, I suppose she was like you, if you want to make the comparison…” Micky used a flour sack towel to dry the deceased girl’s hair. He twisted the blond tresses in the cloth gently as he spoke. “Anyway, next thing you know she’s knocked up. I guess, because of being raised a good Catholic boy, I married her, promised to take care of her, et cetera. She didn’t want me to go back to Boston and fall back in with my pals, you see. Although, I think I would be making a considerably larger income than I am now doing this shit, no offense. I came across an ad for an assistant undertaker after Ollie was born and we were hard up then. Lena would not stop fucking crying…I don’t know, you’ll have to ask her. Long story short, the steady income made things better for awhile. Then baby number two came around and the crying started all over again…She treats me like a fucking stranger sometimes, can’t get so much as a kind word these days…” He shook his head.
“No, she’s not going to leave…Trust me, she won’t…How about we make a wager…What? You’ve never gambled before? Dollface, this is hardly gambling. This is only a friendly bet…about what? See here, I bet in a few days when Lena needs money she’ll find her way down here to apologize.” Micky stared at the expressionless blue eyes as he combed through the clean, damp hair.
“It’s okay, I know you don’t have any money on you. We can work that out late-” Micky whipped around, “And that’s enough out of you!” He jabbed a finger at the young man on the other table. “This is between me and her. I’m not talking to you.” Micky turned back around and arranged the hair a little more. He paused, then let a finger stroke her cheek. He took his hand away and stared at the ceiling. Then he glared at the young man.
“If you don’t shut up, I’m not going to fix your face for your parents. How do you think they’re going to feel seeing you like that, huh?” He waited, then lowered his voice as he addressed the girl again.
“Seriously though, what did you ever see in him?…So it was the car? That turned out pretty well for you didn’t it,” Micky cringed. “I’m sorry, you’re right. That was insensitive of me.” He slowly turned around and stared at the man.
“You wanna say that again?” Micky said through gritted teeth. He waited. Then his hand leapt out and backhanded the corpse’s face. The head turned slightly and the already broken bones rearranged themselves under the force of the blow. “Fuck you,” Micky sneered. He walked across the room and grabbed a clean sheet. He started draping it over the girl.
“Here you go, Dollface, I know you said you were cold, but we had to wait until you were dry. How’s this?” Micky tucked the sheet around her feet and made his way up to her shoulders. “What…You really want me to do that?” Micky’s shoulders slumped as he sighed. “Okay, I will, but only because you asked me to.” Micky flicked the sheet over her face and pulled his stool over to the man. He sat down and stared at his crushed face.
“This might hurt a little bit,” Micky began. “Oh wait, no it won’t.” He chuckled. Micky placed his hands on the skull and started manipulating the broken bones. “I’m only doing this, because she asked me to…now shut up, I need to concentrate.”