When you die, your life flashes... and you disintegrate, radiating energy.
When a thing turns into its opposite, when love becomes hate... there are always sparks.
But when life turns into death... it's explosive.
There are streaks of light... magical and electrifying.
Everyone senses something, some energy, some spirit... some sort of illumination.
But I see it.
I've seen bodies shining like stars.
Some say there's no soul. No afterlife.
But life, like death, is the straightest line on the compass.
And nothing more.
I say believe what you want.
Because no matter what you do, cut everything up, burn it all down...
you're in the path of something beyond your control.
I've always been fascinated by death.
The feel of it, the smell of it... and the stillness.
I shroud the body. Shroud the body.
Shroud little sparrow with broken wing.
I lower the body. Lower the body.
I enter the night. Enter the night.
Come on, guys, two minutes in the closet.
Carol was my first real friend.
She said she could see in the dark... and talk to spirits and ghosts.
Puss-puss, what you got?
It's a mouse.
Let's bury him. Okay.
Carry the body. Carry the body.
We carry the body.
Let's bow our heads in prayer. All right.
For what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly thankful. Amen.
It's religious, that's all that matters. Come on.
You're leaving already? Yeah.
All summer long, we'd find dead animals... shroud their bodies, chant, and bury them. All by daylight.
After dark, I'd go back and give them a proper burial.
It's a chipmunk.
What's that? Baby chipmunks.
What'll we do with them?
We'll have a special ceremony.
And please, dear God, who art in heaven... take care of the chipmunks.
In power and in glory, thy kingdom come. Amen.
What are you doing? What does it look like? Come on!
Oh, no, I hurt it. I must have squeezed it too hard.
Mom said Carol's mother had phoned and was very upset.
She said I had made her do some sort of witchcraft dance out there.
Mom told me to stay away from Carol.
She said I was a lady now.
I never played with Carol again.
And for the first time I saw myself the way others might.
I would like you all to pay attention to the technique.
We start the incision from the abdomen, up.
Sandra Larson? Do you have a problem with this?
It's dead. Doesn't feel a thing.
Now we continue the process by exposing major organs.
As you can see, the heart is protected by the rib cage.
Cutting into the body seemed dangerous and destructive.
But I had to get inside... see the order... understand the perfection.
Yeah, gladiolas are no problem.
We can deliver by 2:00. All right.
The Valley Forge... and of course, the Monaco.
No, that can't be right.
God damn it.
Mr. Wallis? Hi.
Is it that time already?
Quick, follow me.
Anywhere is fine. The family is going to rearrange them all anyway.
That's good. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some work to do.
I'd like to work here.
I need a job. I overheard you talking with Dad.
I'm really sorry about your assistant.
Well, Sandra... The flower shop was just to help out.
I have my chauffeur's license. Oh, I see.
What do you know about funerals?
What is there to know?
And here we have the office, the showroom... three slumber rooms for viewing. Three?
Oh, yes. Remember that bus wreck last summer? It was crazy.
But we managed to squeeze them all in.
And this is where it all happens.
Once we've worked our magic, you'd think they were sleeping.
Comfortable repose, that's what we're trying to achieve.
Now... which one was it?
Yes. You can use this one.
What should I wear?
A simple dress with flats will do. Oh, and one more thing.
Don't wear black. It's too depressing.
Jan! Come and meet Sandy Larson.
She's taking over where Tony left off. She is Tony's replacement, so to speak.
Hands like the Virgin.
I did the things I did to find the edge... feel the end beginning.
Any thought you act on... pushes you further out.
After you bring in all the flowers, you can empty the ashtrays.
If you need a vacuum, there's always one in the closet.
Mr. Wallis, is there... Yes.
Do you know who?
Tony. Died on the job... buried on the job.
Should l... Right.
The parents will be here in half an hour. Better open him up.
He was a good boy. Handsome.
He was. Very handsome.
You're so cold.
"And he that was dead came forth...
"bound hand and foot with graveclothes:
"And his face was bound about with a napkin.
"Jesus saith unto them, 'Loose him, and let him go."'
Crossing over was glorious and overwhelming.
It was absolutely addictive.
I want to study embalming.
I want to study the art.
It's unique. Yes, it is, Sandra.
It is a profession apart from all others.
I really think I'd be good at it.
Welcome to embalming.
Now, if rigor mortis has begun... then all these muscles need to be broken up.
Because after a while, they really don't listen.
That's more comfortable.
You have to pack up all these holes.
Otherwise, we'll have a real mess on our hands.
It's something to make him smile.
That's a lot easier, and a lot faster, than sewing the lips together.
These little gems hold the eyes shut.
Next, we raise the vessels.
Always remember: Jugular is for draining...
and the carotid, for injecting.
One goes in... and one comes out.
Sometimes they get clots. And sometimes you have to cut into a few more places.
But our patient should be a piece of cake.
Came straight from the hospital. They were probably thinning his blood to start with.
A trocar. Many see it as the embalmer's sword.
And this is what you call cavity aspiration... where we suck out all the goo, and we replace it with more magic elixir.
That way our young friend won't bloat up like a pig.
Doesn't it... No, he's dead.
You get used to the smell.
All you do is hose him down, dress him up, and apply a little makeup.
Jan is gone for the day. Would you mind giving the floor a quick mop?
And the front door locks behind you.
You didn't faint. That's always a good sign.
Jan? I'm polishing.
She's beautiful. A real Madonna.
Not like today, all skin and bone.
In the '40s they were all Madonnas.
So womanly, so feminine.
Mr. Wallis calls them "patients."
Don't let him fool you. He's weak, like everyone else.
All I hear is his dirty jokes. He has no respect.
Mr. Wallis is a troubled man.
What do you mean?
He likes the boys.
I caught him once.
I asked him why. He said, "What does it matter?
"It's all dead flesh. They can't feel anything."
What do you think?
I think they can.
It was like diving into a lake:
Sudden cold, then silence.
Their bodies floated... solemn and shimmering.
I watched their lives flow out... who they were, what they had done.
My hands burned like I was touching dry ice.
And all I could see... was the light.
I looked right into it.
College. I learned everything I could... the proper procedures, techniques, and applications.
I was completely absorbed.
...and the fluid pressure from the body.
Be aware of the temperature...
I like the pictures.
Well, there's a newer edition out in the bookstore.
Higher resolution photographs.
Are you a pathology student? I've never seen you around before.
I work in a funeral home. I'm studying embalming.
Really? You know that's really the only way to know a corpse.
Don't you think? I don't know.
Sure you do.
I mean, you see it all.
Where are you going?
I couldn't stop thinking about what he'd said.
It was like he knew, like he saw right through me.
I have something for you.
Fifth edition. It's mine.
I'm a med student.
What year? Actually, I'm not in med school right now.
I'm, you know, taking some time off.
So, how is it working at the funeral home?
It's a full-time job.
Why would you want to be an embalmer?
Because of the bodies.
What do you mean?
I make love to them.
Yeah, dead bodies.
You don't believe me, do you?
I believe you.
I've never told that to anyone.
Men or women? Men.
Fresh corpses? Yes.
Do you climb on top of them?
Yeah. And then...
Yeah, it's essential.
You know, when you think about it, sperm propagates life... but blood sustains it.
Blood is primary.
This is where I live.
You want to come in?
Maybe another... Maybe another time.
Goodnight. Oh, your bag.
Okay. Thanks. See you.
I live in the basement.
Go around the front and down the steps and I'll let you in.
The biographies of my life.
One day I'll clean up around here. No, I like it.
She looks like you.
You think so? Absolutely.
Those are sample bottles, from the school.
Do you want to dance? No.
I'm just not very good at it. Okay.
Sorry. That's okay.
Do you want a drink? No. Thanks.
I've never done this before.
It's all right.
Just lie back.
Just lie still.
That night I knew I couldn't give it up.
And I didn't think I would ever have to.
Why do you need to know all the details?
I'm just curious, that's all. Anyone would be.
That's the only reason? No.
I've never met anyone like you before.
You're totally different.
Like an experiment? No, you're compelling.
You're complex... you're complicated, you're dynamic...
I like you, Sandra.
I want to show you something.
I spent a lot of time here.
This is where I lost Carol.
What happened to her?
I don't know. Married somewhere.
I don't believe in marriage.
Come on. Think about it.
Sex would get pretty stale.
And how would you know?
I don't want to know.
It's all one way.
That's not true. They can't even feel anything.
Yes, they can.
I think you're drafting personalities onto the corpses.
Then I guess I have a pretty big imagination...
'cause I've never met two the same.
You could have a pretty big imagination.
Schizophrenics... are able to manufacture dozens of complex personalities.
Thank you! Face it, it's all about control.
You create this history, this life, for them... and then you have total control over them.
It has nothing to do with control.
Don't look at that. Why not?
Dates, times, frequency of occurrence.
Matt this is a record of everything I've done in the last two weeks.
It's just based on the stuff you told me.
You should be flattered. I'm not.
It's just something I use to try to understand.
This is not going to help you understand me.
It's not about... facts and figures.
It's about crossing over.
By the time I get there, I'm out of myself.
It's more than this.
You scared the shit out of me! Sorry. You did it, didn't you?
So what if I did?
You got blood under your fingernails.
You know, I didn't have time for a manicure.
"Dean Rodrick English, 30.
"...on Tuesday, after a lengthy illness.
"Body can be viewed 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. At the Wallis Funeral Home."
The obituaries? Matt what are you doing?
Michael Gazitias. 35.
Wednesday, in his sleep.
He's also at the Wallis Funeral Home.
Now... did you sleep with these two guys?
You know, I don't fuck everything that's dead.
That's not what I meant.
Is it the same with each of them?
Everyone is different. It's like in life.
Everybody is different. It's the same in death.
How is it different?
Each of them has its own... wisdom... its own innocence, its happiness, its grief.
I feel everything from the body, okay?
I see it.
You see it?
Iooking into the sun without going blind.
I am consumed.
So am I, Sandra.
It's so noisy in here. I know.
And hot, like the beach.
I'll try the window again.
I'll come back on Thursday. After class. Fine.
He was so young. Yes. Yes, indeed. Please.
He looks wonderful.
Better in death than in life.
I thank you for your kind words.
I must say, however, that this young gentleman... is the dedicated work of my apprentice, Miss Larson.
Miss Larson, you possess a true talent.
You could have had me fired. Sorry.
Can I watch you at the funeral parlor?
You were just there! No, I mean at night... when you're alone... No way!
Just once? No, it's my thing. It's private.
I really need to talk to you.
I've been thinking about this a lot, and I know what I have to do now. I just...
I don't know what to do.
I have to do it.
You have to do what, Matt?
I have to fuck a corpse.
This is not something you force yourself to do!
I need to do it! I have no choice. I need to do it.
I'll get it.
Wallis Funeral Home.
Why are you calling me here?
Where are you? The line's really bad.
Look, skip your class tonight. Just come straight over.
What's going on?
You didn't answer my calls all day.
I know. I'm sorry.
What's with the suit?
Just indulge me. No, I don't want to.
Sandra, just try.
It's just a little thing.
No, it's weird. Sandra, just stay on top.
No, I really don't want to. It's okay.
Just calm down, it will be fine.
Lf you just calm down, it will be... Don't!
Just relax! Stop it!
Look, I just want to feel what it's like from this position.
I tried calling.
I've been busy.
Are you still coming over tomorrow night?
Well, maybe I'll see you then.
What are you doing?
I've always had bad skin.
That's not true.
You have beautiful skin.
Let me help you take it off.
I'm going to go.
I love you.
Matt, come on.
This is stupid. Get down.
Pull away the stool.
Matt, I'm serious. You're scaring me.
All you have to do is pull away the stool.
What are you doing? I'm gonna take you down myself.
If you do anything other than pull away the stool...
I'm just going to kick it over myself.
I love you, okay?
No, you don't. I do. Please.
No, you don't, Sandra... but you will.
Morning gentlemen. Let's make this quick.
Okay, make sure this whole room is secured now.
Let's not disturb anything. Questions?
Captain, do you want to come and take a look at this?
They were all over Matt... and questioned me for hours.
Why did he kill himself?
Why didn't I talk him down?
"As soon as I entered the room, he kicked the stool away."
Okay, let's make room for the gurney here.
Now, don't disturb anything.
Clear. Here we go.
They wouldn't understand.
And I couldn't explain it... even if I wanted to.
Chaos came with Matt's death.
It came with time and form breaking free... as everything was magnified, and coming apart.
Matt was gone, but not his energy.
His star was the brightest I'd ever seen... exploding and surrounding us.
His love was so intense...
I felt burned.
Love is about craving.
Our craving for transformation.
And all transformation, all movement, happens... because life turns into death.
I still work at a funeral home.
I'm still compelled to cross over.
But now I see Matt when I look into the center.