There were three of us. Me, Jenny (Bob's former nurse) and Chris. They led us through a set of oak doors with a brass sign that read "Witness Room".
The room was white and blue and there was a wall of glass and behind the glass was Bob. In a cardboard box. A brown cardboard box. With a blue paper sheet, blue -- the color of hospital chucks, tucked up to his chin. And I put my hands on the cool glass, palms flat and stared at this man, who was Bob, who was not Bob, who looked more like a statue someone had sculpted, an imitation of Bob, but the sculptor had some how gotten the nose all wrong.
And his neck was straight. And I'm stupidly thinking, his neck is straight -- he's finally holding up his head and how did they do that?
My hands keep slipping on the glass. A sort of slow sliding down, as if I can't control them. Jenny asks if she should ask if I can go to him, go to Bob, on the other side of that cold glass, but I'm thinking it looks cold in there and Bob looks cold and I just can't move from this spot, here, on the other side of the glass.
On the wall there is a box, a wooden box, with buttons inside. I am told that I can push the button, the button that starts the conveyor. And the man comes in and goes behind the glass and he raises the thing that Bob lays on and it slides up like some type of industrial scaffold. There is rust on the scaffold and I'm thinking, someone should clean that thing up, paint it or something. Then the man gets a lid for the box, the cardboard box that Bob lies in. The lid is white and box is brown and in big bold black letters, on the lid, it says HEAD. I'm thinking how odd this is, this HEAD, so big and bold and black and are morticians that dumb? Couldn't they have written HEAD a little smaller or something, or just put some kind of code or mark on the box so they would know which end is what? The man has trouble fitting on the lid, the lid that says HEAD, so big and bold. And then the man nods to me, which is my cue to push the button, but I cannot push the button.
Jenny says, "It's OK, you've already done enough."
I'm thinking this is such an odd game, who would want to push that button? A child, maybe? Or spiteful widow. A sort of last send off. Here, take that, you so-and-so! And I can almost hear Bob laughing...
So I shake my head and the man pushes the button and the conveyors roll with the brown cardboard box with the white lid and I run to the side of the glass, my hands sliding over the glass, to the end of the glass wall so I can see the box disappear behind the curtain and see Bob's name on the box, written in black sharpie marker and watch as he disappears...