October 14, 2003 –– Gena and I went to The Double Door the other night for a screening of some skateboarding movie and, since the movie sucked, we decided to go downstairs to smoke weed and play pool with a friend.
It was pretty empty in the basement because everyone was watching the shitty movie, so we got the pool table all the way in the back against the wall, and there was this guy sitting in a chair all by himself kind of slumped over at the end of the table where you set up the balls.
We figured that he was wasted and probably with the people at the next table, so we ignored him. Eventually, we thought they’d wake him up and take him home. About two hours later we’re still playing and dude is still slumped in the chair––and I mean slumped, hunched over so his head was basically between his knees––wearing all black against the black walls, easy enough to ignore while we smoked and played. But then it turns out he’s in the way of my shot so I decide to wake the bastard up. Make him move.
“Hey, guy, wake up!”
But he doesn’t wake up So I go over to shake him and see if that works. I grab his arm and you know how when you shake someone (even if they’re asleep) they sort of feel a little squishy? Well this guy was stiff as a board. His arm was like a rock–– totally stuck against his body.
So I said to Gena, “Hey, this guy’s dead. We should tell someone.” She didn’t believe me and had to go touch deady herself, at which point she freaked and ran to the bartender.
“Hey, there’s a dead guy in the corner. A really dead guy,” she said. The bartender thought we were crazy, but he sent security over to check it out anyway. While we were waiting––how do you play pool with a corpse in front of your table?––I asked the people at the next table if they knew him. They said they thought he was with us.
So the security guys come and put a flashlight in his eyes and, finally, check for a pulse; and they think he’s dead too.
Then 911 shows up. About ten Chicago cops and two paramedics come running down the back stairs. They push the Double Door security out of the way to look at the guy, and we’re all standing around stoned and drunk and holding our pool sticks and one hitters in our pockets and watching them.
They examine the body. The paramedics lift his stiff corpse right off the chair and into a wheelchair. He was rigid. I mean, he didn’t move. Very creepy. I asked one of the cops if the guy was dead. “Yeah, probably,” he said. Yeah probably? What the fuck, copper, can’t you just lie to make us feel better?
At this point, we’re sans corpse and all a little freaked when the manager of The Double Door comes up and asks if we’re the ones who reported the body. We say we are. He puts out his hand and dumps like 30 free drink tokens into our hands. He says thanks and walks away.
It all felt so dirty. There was nothing else to do but go upstairs and drink away some of the tokens. But we vowed to never go to The Double Door again. The friend I went with hasn’t talked to me for at least two months. There’s something eerie and cool about the whole night, but it still sucks to think that some poor bastard died alone in the basement of The Double Door while three jerks smoked reefer over his stiffening body. And the moral of this story––because every story has one––is don’t play pool at The Double Door. And if you do, don’t bother the dead guy who’s watching.
(To celebrate the 25th anniversary of The Week Behind this year, we will occasionally publish classic stories like this from years gone by. Enjoy.)