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Chapter 11: Bodies

I saw my first penis today. Well it was the first one in real life, not in a video or a schematic in a book. It was on a man. It was a little bit hairy and ugly, but not at all threatening. Who would think that it’s just about the most dangerous thing a woman comes up against, when it’s all just dirty and flaccid and a perfectly normal appendage on a human body.

It might be quite different on a living man, I don’t know about that. Yet. This one was on a dead man over by the railroad tracks not very far, just 30 or 40 feet, from where they’ve been giving out the drugs. I think I solved the mystery right away. I’m a regular Nancy Drew.

They were only giving one package to each drug addict when I watched them just the other day. Beside this body, there were two opened containers. He probably went through the line twice, then gave himself twice the dosage.

“Double your pleasure, double your fun!” That was probably his idea. It left him deader than a doornail beside the railroad track. I wasn’t surprised to see him lying there like economy-sized roadkill. What did surprise me was my own reaction: I didn’t have one! I think maybe I expected things like this to happen.

A crew of men undressed him while I stood, just a few feet away, and watched. I don’t think they paid me any mind at all. Maybe I’m ubiquitous, maybe everybody knows who I am and what I do and they just don’t care. Or maybe they figured I’d find out about this anyway so it didn’t matter. Or maybe they wanted me to find out about it, because they know my role is to tell others. Anyway, nobody paid any attention to me as they went about disposing of the body.

They had pushed a big crazy looking machine right up to where he lay. One of the men removed some kind of digging instrument from it and started digging a hole. The instrument looked like two shovels, face-to-face, and somehow connected near the business end. I found out later that they call it a “post hole digger.” I guess it means that they use it to dig a hole after (post) somebody dies.

While the digger was shoving this thing into the ground, right near the body, then pulling it out and knocking the dirt off it and shoving it back again, the other guys were picking up the body and pushing it onto a kind of chute at one end of the machine. One of them pushed it forward while the others took turns on a big crank.

I realized that this had to be some kind of specially-invented machine because almost all machines that were invented before the revolution were power-driven. This one was all done by hand. As they pushed the naked body forward, a deluge of juices, blood and other mucuous stuff, started coming out the bottom of the machine. The men just kind of stepped around the growing red puddle until it got too big to avoid, then they just pushed the machine forward a few feet to a fresh spot and started cranking again.
They were grinding up the body in some kind of a chipper machine, like something used in the old days to grind up limbs from trees. But they were doing a human body in it. Every now and then they had to stop. They would turn the crank backward and then look into the machine. Somebody would reach in and make some kind of adjustments. I figure they were pushing the bones around to get them oriented correctly in the machine.

It only took a few minutes and the body was gone. The puddles were soaking into the ground and would probably disappear next time it rains.

They had caught whatever was left in a dark plastic bag marked “biodegradable.” It wasn’t bigger than a grocery sack, that’s all there is of us, I guess, after the juices are left out.

One of the men dropped something into the bag, something like a pill, then they went to the hole the other man had dug and dropped it in. Then they covered the hole by pushing the clods of earth in with their boots, then they stamped it down. Unless you just knew where it was, you’d never suspect that there had been a dead body there just before. And if you didn’t think about it you wouldn’t realize that the body was probably alive and breathing less than a day ago. It was a real person, one must assume, and now it’s just a soft spot in the earth less than 12 inches across.

It was kind of amazing, but I wasn’t exactly filled with wonder. When you’re me, you find out just about everything sooner or later. I’m the lady, I’m the conduit for all information.


Sure enough, the Director of logistics, Mr Lohgren, showed up at the office right after I got back. He came straight to my desk and told me to record a message. Here’s what he said:

“This is Charles Lohgren, logistics, reporting on body disposal. The chipper works just fine, as I knew it would. Start to finish, my crew put a customer away just now in less than seven minutes. He’s now growing a Texas Ash tree. The guys correctly recorded his satellite position in case anybody ever wants to commemorate him or sit under his shade tree. It’s not likely because we had no possible way of finding out who he was.

‘As expected, Mr John Doe had OD’d. No idea if it was a mistake or a suicide, we just found him and put him away. I think maybe we ought to add some kind of a marker to keep people from stepping on him and to make sure they don’t mess up the tree. I think maybe a wooden stake about 3 feet long, maybe painted on the end that sticks up, maybe green, kind of in keeping with the theme of transforming people into trees. By the time the stake is weathered away, the tree should be sticking up and ready to survive on its own.

‘The disposal chipper isn’t as portable as I’d like. We only have two of them and, if this project keeps expanding as I expect, we’re going to need them all over the place. Either that or we’ll have to figure out some way to bring bodies to the chippers.

‘For the time being, though, we have a system that is efficient, ecological, and quick. No worries on that end.”

I was gratified to hear that something was working as planned. Our revolution is made up of smart planners! But of course, like everything else, we hadn’t heard the last of this.

--July Eason, Project Archivist


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