S.G. Browne

Dead Body 101

Some people are under the impression that I’m comfortable around dead bodies because I wrote a book about zombies with a lot of detail about what happens to the human body when it decomposes. That if I ever came upon a fresh corpse, I’d study it for research. Well, here’s a little story.

A couple of years back, when I was doing property management for some apartment buildings here in San Francisco, I was performing apartment inspections and discovered that the tenant in one unit, a big, friendly guy in his 50s, had been dead for several days. After walking out of the bedroom and seeking the safety of the kitchen, I called the landlord. Then I called 911. This is pretty much how the conversation went.

“911. What is your emergency?”
“I’d like to report a dead body in my apartment building.”
(I then provide my name and the address.)
“How do you know the body is dead, sir?”
“Well, he’s on his back and he’s not breathing and his eyes are wide open.”
“Are you sure he’s not breathing?”
“Yes, I’m sure.”
“Is the body cold?”
“I don’t know. I didn’t touch him.”
“Can you check to see if the body is cold, sir?”
“You want me to touch him?”
“Yes sir.”
“Do I have to touch him?”
“If you wouldn’t mind.”
(After a pause.) “Okay, fine. Hold on a second.”
(I walk back into the bedroom, bend down, then reach out a single index finger and poke him in the shoulder.)
“Yes, he’s cold.”
“Do you have a defibrillator?”
(A defibrillator? No, I don’t have a defibrillator. Who the hell carries around a defibrillator?)
“No. I don’t have a defibrillator. And I don’t know CPR, either, so if you want someone to try to resuscitate him, then I’m not the man for the job.”
“Are you alone, sir?”
“Yes. So if you could you please send someone over here who deals with dead bodies I’d appreciate it, because this isn’t really my forte.”
“We’ll send someone right over.”

Filed under: Just Blogging — S.G. Browne @ 5:39 pm

What I Read On My Winter Vacation

With a couple of airplane flights and several hours waiting in the airport and time spent relaxing in a hammock beneath palm trees or on the beach or at the hotel pool, I had plenty of time to read over the past couple of weeks. Of course, I also spent some of that time doing nothing but existing in a Zen like tranquility, but I did manage to get through most of three books, all of them markedly different. Although I’m still working on Book #3, I thought I’d share what I’ve read and a few thoughts.

Pressure by Jeff Strand

I picked up this book last June at the HWA Stoker Award’s weekend in Los Angeles during a mass book signing, having met Jeff previously at the World Horror Convention in Salt Lake City. Admittedly, I was dubious about whether or not I would enjoy it, as it wasn’t what I was in the mood for, but I soon found myself caught up in the tension and frustration of a prep school friendship that turns terrifyingly bad and haunts the main character into college and beyond. Jeff manages to create an empathy for the main character and a growing frustration and terror at his helplessness as the story spans across several time frames. A good, pressure-packed thriller that doesn’t hold anything back.

The Little Sleep by Paul Tremblay

I wanted to read this novel because it was one of the other three nominees for this year’s HWA Bram Stoker Awards for Best First Novel. I was further intrigued when I came across his second novel, No Sleep Till Wonderland, and read the back cover copy. It’s a darkly comic detective novel in the spirit of Raymond Chandler about a narcoleptic detective who struggles with sleep, hallucinations, and his relationship with his landlord mother. Although I wasn’t as emotionally invested in the main character as I would like to have been, I found the writing style and the humor engaging and entertaining. I had a hard time putting it down and looked forward to picking it back up.

City of Thieves by Paul Benioff

This novel by the author of The 25th Hour (I saw the film starring Edward Norton but never read the book) was recommended to me by Bill, one of the staff at my local Books Inc. I intend on going back to the store and thanking Bill for the recommendation, as this was one of my favorite reads of the past year. I finished it on the flight back to San Francisco and couldn’t put it down. It’s one of those books that makes you appreciate the joy of the written word and how much of a pleasure it is when you come across an author who can string together words to create a memorable, affecting story.

That’s it. That’s all I’ve got. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. This is just my opinion, so if you pick up one of these books and don’t enjoy it, don’t blame me. But if you do pick up one of these, let me know what you think.

Until next time…


Coming To You From Florida

I’m sitting on the balcony of my hotel room on the 20th floor looking south along the beach in Ft. Lauderdale and I hear an alarm going off somewhere on the street below, followed by an authoritative recorded female voice issuing some kind of instructions. The alarm and voice keep repeating, like an outdoor emergency warning system.

Alarm. Instructions. Repeat.

Either it’s a talking car alarm or else there’s a hurricane on the way and we have to evacuate.

This is my first full day in Ft. Lauderdale, having arrived here Sunday afternoon. Over the previous four days I’ve been in Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, St. Petersburg, Sarasota, Siesta Key, St. Petersburg again, then back to Ft. Lauderdale. Tomorrow I’m heading down to South Beach for a couple of days, then to Islamorada in the Florida Keys.

The alarm is still going off, the woman issuing her warning. The skies look clear to me off the coast and I don’t see crowds of people evacuating on the streets twenty stories below, so I figure I’m okay.

That’s one of the things I noticed driving around Florida for the past few days. There are Evacuation Route signs posted everywhere. I don’t know what the process is like, but at least when they issue a hurricane warning, they have an evacuation plan. In California, we don’t get earthquake warnings, and as far as any kind of evacuation plans, as far as I know, there aren’t any. So we’re pretty much screwed.

The alarm and the warning have finally ended, which means one of the valet attendants at my hotel is probably trying to make sure he knows how to shut off the alarm next time.

As I sit here writing this, the sun moving across the sky from ocean to downtown Ft. Lauderdale, the palm tree-lined beach stretching south almost to the horizon, I’m thinking I could get used to this.

I like Florida. I think I’m going to move here. Maybe to the Keys. I’ve never been to the Keys, but right now, it sounds like a good idea.

There’s lots of water and boats here. Sure, there’s lots of water and boats in San Francisco, too, but it’s not 72 degrees in San Francisco on the first day of March. And the beaches aren’t lined with palm trees. And the water isn’t clear and blue, reflecting the endless sky.

The alarm has started up again. Either the valet needs to work on his learning curve or else I was wrong about having to evacuate.

Filed under: Just Blogging — S.G. Browne @ 3:24 pm