#99: Death and the Warehouse

December 14th, 2012

“They make their money in garbage chutes,” she said as we walked through the darkened warehouse. “Plastic garbage chutes.”

“Like when they’re re-doing a roof at a place and they toss the shingles down it?” I asked.

She nodded.

Krystle and I talked about death.

We talked about more than death, of course. We talked about Joss Whedon and we talked about cartoon voice actors and we talked about mutual friends, the Rat Patrol and what we’re going to get our respective boos for Christmas (sorry, Stephanie and Doug — no hints). We talked about the thousand other things old friends who haven’t seen hide nor hair in a while talk about while catching up.

But in that empty, darkened warehouse that cold December night, we talked about death too.

It’s not an odd conversation. Beyond the mutual morbid sensibilities that cemented our friendship all those years ago, Krystle attends Malcolm X City College’s Mortuary Science Program.

She works nights at a warehouse behind a bar our circle calls an unprintable name. Under the flickering lights that inspired the artists renting space upstairs to joke and tape up notes about the “resident ghosts,” Krystle spends solo evenings typing shipping orders and receipts in a quiet office space, accompanied only by a cat named Nina Simone.

It creeps her out, so occasionally she asks friends to swing by with a six pack.

As we walked through the empty corridors and in and out of fire escapes and through the barren offices upstairs, she shows me where some men drove over a fence in the middle of the night to steal rebar, the pallet where they found one of the artists from upstairs sleeping one off in the morning, the room where the lights would come on and off in five-minute increments.

“That sounds more like bad wiring than the supernatural,” I said.

She shook her head.

“They had someone come in, look the whole thing over. It’s fine,” she said.

And we talked about death.

Death, a veteran friend of hers says, is like a circle with you inside. It spins around, picking off people close to you, then spirals away so you think you’re safe for a while. Then it picks off acquaintances, people you met maybe once or twice but liked a lot.

The gyre spins and swirls, rotating until you’re the one picked off by the edge. You can’t escape. You’re always inside the circle.

In that vacant Humboldt Park warehouse specializing in plastic garbage chutes for remodeling sites, as we split a six pack and played with a cat named Nina Simone, we talked about cartoon voice actors, Joss Whedon, old friends and death.

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