Gerald took the job because he liked to look at genitals. There was nothing sexual about it for him and the more of them he saw, the less inclined he became to ever try it. He viewed them as one might a piece of art, with an expert eye capable of spotting flaws and perfection in a heartbeat.
He loathed how some people viewed what he did. Gerald had few friends and of those he did have, only two knew what his job was. Neither of them knew why he did it. They thought it was a family thing, especially as Gerald implied his father and uncle had started the business and then sold it when they became too old to carry on.
Until then, Gerald had seen very few real genitals. A glance stolen in the showers when he was at school, a dropped towel on the beach, a 30th birthday treat to himself of a woman whose number he found on a card stuck to the glass in a phone box. Otherwise his knowledge was entirely theoretical, photographic and self-examined.
They looked different, before and after. Before they were small and soft, often slightly sagging and with slack skin. The hairs were sparse, even the young ones. Something about death made a previously lush growth seem thin and wispy. Afterwards they were small and sagging but plasticy with the slackness molded in place.
Gerald preferred to insert his embalmer’s tube into the femoral artery if he could, even though below the collarbone was the site most people would identify, if pressed. He could look, that way. He never touched because that wasn’t part of either embalming or his own hobby.
In idle moments, he wondered what an embalmer would think of his own genitals, when his time eventually came.