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Innocence is lost too early for some and when it is gone it is easier to travel the back roads of the mind which lead to a place of the midnight dead.

My first wife J.J. and I traveled this road for six weeks with Gertrude.  Each week we visited Gertrude in her home.  Gertrude's home was more like a huge barracks than a house.  She shared her house with a hundred others.  But none of them ever bothered us.  They remained quietly in the dark.  Only one fluorescent shop light was shinning in this 3,000 square feet room and it lit the space were Gertrude stayed.

Gertrude's home was easy to find and she never let us down.  She was always there ready for our sessions.  Her, J.J. and me...just the three of us. 

For three hours each Wednesday at midnight we became entangled with one another, picking, pulling and stretching. 

Before each session we cranked up the boom box with Eric Clapton's music Cocaine until the bass in the music was pounding in our chests.  It made it easier to start what we where about to do to Gertrude.  Then, we began our gruesome session with Gertrude.  She never said a word and never resisted us as we undressed her by pulling back the white sheet which covered her. 

Each week there was less of her than the week before.  This was how my wife, as a medical student, learned the anatomy of the human body and how I learned, as a young minister, to question if human beings really have a soul.  

Whatever made Gertrude human was no longer present in her or in the other one hundred cadavers lying on tables in the university cadaver lab.  The six weeks I spent with the midnight dead prepared me I suppose for all those I would later escort to the their graves...and there were many.  Babies, children, teenagers, the elderly, the recently married, moms and dads all were a part of the hundreds of people I have delivered into the midnight of the dead.  And, in my dreams they return to visit me.

Writer John Rodgers