New York is, of course, a dirty city. The ocean is dirty too. Red Hook is a peninsula and the opticnerve™ studios sit at the end of a pier, so a lot of broken and used-up things wash up on the rocks outside. Scraps of old bags and broken toys, cigarette butts, and occasional empty grey shoes accumulate along the railings that line the concrete walkway behind the warehouse.
Jon Kane likes to make art out of garbage and so finds use for some of the miscellaneous trash. He’s particularly fond of driftwood. The opticnerve™ staff are by now well accustomed to stepping around shapeless hunks of wood that will later become decorative silver wall ornaments or hanging mobiles. Shellacked pieces of old stumps and branches litter the floor of Jon’s office where plaster skeleton parts keep his chainsaw company.
It was a sunny morning last spring when the police dragged the corpse out of the water. They laid it at the end of the pier and draped it in a white sheet. The body lay there all day under its shroud, “glittering in the sunshine,” as Jon would tell it. It wasn’t the first corpse to wash up outside the studio, but it was the first one that Jon had seen there. Rang Rang says they kill them in Jersey then they float over here.
The corpses always come with the spring. Jon explains that the warming water causes the bodies to bloat and surface after a cold winter spent on the ocean floor. This sounds approximately scientific.
Sparrows and starlings also hatch their young in the spring, and their nests are everywhere around the warehouse– this means soon the ground outside will be littered with dead hatchlings. “The corpses and the birds come at the same time” says Jon, “It’s a real springtime phenomenon.”
He has a picture for you.
When interviewing prospective employees Jon sometimes stands and walks to the window, where he points at the rocks below. Stroking his chin contemplatively, he remarks: “A corpse washed up right there, once. A bloated corpse,” then falls silent and peers out over the water. Potential hires should be prepared to ask the right questions. For example: Was it a man or a woman?
If he answers “It was a woman. The bloated corpse of a woman,” then, translated roughly, he means You’re hired, for now.