Fade To Black

          Until the summer of 1990, there was nothing in my Song You Fucking Hate category.  Sure, there were (and are) entire genre's I don't like to listen to, but fucking hate?  Strong words for a few minutes of lyrics surrounded by a melody.  However.

          The song Ginny fucking hates is Kenny Loggin's - Playing with the Boys.  In her video-a-day challenge (which I'm shadowing—today is Day 2) she states: "...I hate the living snot out of this horrible (yet refreshingly homo-erotic) soundtrack abomination..."  She chose not to detail much in the way of why.  In my case, I have an explanation.  You betcha.

          After eight years as an Infantryman and MP, in the spring of 1990 I began my apprentice year as an CID Agent at Fort Benning, Georgia.  At the risk of overusing the adverb du jour by using it twice in one sentence (and this might go without saying) it's important to underscore at this point in my tale about a song I fucking hate, that summer in the southeastern United States is-was-and-forever-shall-be fucking humid.  As I arrived at work 0700 on Monday, 18 June 1990, the temperature was in the mid 90s (34 Celsius) and the humidity was over 80%.  The dress shirt under my suit jacket was soaked-through with sweat just from walking from my air-conditioned car to my air-conditioned office.  I was the "Duty Agent" today and, therefore, would be the lead investigator on all crimes reported to this office for the next 24 hours.  At 0730 the MP Desk Sergeant informed me of an alleged suicide.  This would be my first as a Duty Agent.

          The fifteen foot (4.5 meter) square barracks room I needed to search, measure, collect evidence from, photograph, sketch, dust for prints, describe in detail, and videotape, was not air-conditioned.  Its windows were closed.  I had to keep its door closed.

          The room contained a bunk bed set, two desks with chairs, two wall lockers (wardrobes), a large stereo system, a television, a small area rug, and fifteen assorted rifles.  One nearly headless body wearing an Army BDU (green/brown/black camouflaged uniform) was on the tile floor near the wall opposite the door.  A brain was laying next to a loaded M16 rifle inside a pool of coagulating blood about the size of an adult's hula-hoop.  A portion of the back wall and ceiling above the body was splattered with blood, tissue, hair and bone fragments.

          I processed that scene for over two hours wearing plastic gloves on my hands before I could allow the mortuary assistant to enter the room.  Then, because he was alone, I helped him load the body into a body bag and used the cardboard backing from a pad of paper to scoop the brain into the bag.

          Prior to shooting himself in the face with two rounds of 5.56 NATO ammo, the soldier had programmed a Metallica CD to play the song Fade To Black, indefinitely.  The volume was set to about 25dB.  So quiet that, although I was aware the stereo was on, it took me more than 20 minutes to realize I was hearing the same song over and over.  While processing the scene, I had to listen to that song—his fucking suicide note—at least a dozen times before I could dust the stereo for prints and turn it off.

          The inside of that room was well over 110 degrees (44 Celsius) before I finished—I was constantly wiping my face and neck with a towel to prevent my sweat from contaminating the scene.  Dealing with the smells was memorably unpleasant...but the song.  I still can't listen to it without feeling uncomfortable (so, if the video below doesn't play correctly please let me know).

          I am here to testify that the Ludovico Technique from Clockwork Orange is real (although Metallica is not Beethoven and I was never a huge fan).  After processing this suicide, I immediately began to create the work of art pictured at the top of this article (also titled: Fade To Black).  I finished it in about three months.  It was approximately 5' x 3' x 18" deep (1.5m x 1m x .5m); acrylic paint on spray foam, constructed on a wood and metal base.  I sold it in 1999.

1 comment:

Ginny said...

First of all, I find it interesting that that piece kicked me in the gut before I read the story.

Secondly, holy shit.