Subcutaneous Magazine Fall 2016 - Page 10

T hen said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a woman who hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and inquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold, there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at En-dor. ~1 Samuel 28:7 “She’s a beauty, all right,” Old Gus agreed with Will Cotter as they wheeled the latest Jane Doe to the slab in Room 111-B. “No sir, you don’t get many like her comin’ in here with tags on their toes.” Despite the cool 45 degree temperature of the room the old orderly's dark skin glistened with sweat. Following a late medical examination and because his associates had decided to call it a night, Dr. Roland had dispensed with protocol and asked Gus to transport the cadaver from the examination room to a numbered slab down the hall. The old man had become a hybrid regarding his official responsibilities and was such a fixture at night on the first floor that almost any job that required either pushing a mop or a gurney naturally fell to him. He had passed Will making his rounds, and the younger man felt like some conversation. In the three months since Will had started as the night guard, he never saw a cadaver roll past him on a gurney headed for the Colson County Hospital Morgue that he felt much like looking at, let alone one he wanted to study up close. At least not until the night's latest arrival. But then Will had not known many living women who held much interest for him. It was hard to get enthusiastic over someone whose face dropped the moment she saw the car he drove. Seen in perspective, the graveyard shift was not much of a step down from his social life. She’s so young,” Will said, kneeling to see her face at eye level. “No more than in her early twenties. This one couldn’t’ve been a ‘natural’. You got any idea what did it?” As he spoke he stroked the dead girl’s soft black hair, and Gus glared at him. “Looks to me like we got us more than one kind of ‘stiff ’ in this room,” Gus said, rubbing the sweat from his shiny bald pate, and the old man’s remark made Will pull his hand back in embarrassment. His eyes dropped to the floor and the old attendant laughed. Gus lifted the girl’s foot and read the tag attached to her big toe. “Well, let's have a look. ‘Jane Doe’. ID number: 1863D. Yeah, that sure helps a whole lot.” He pulled aside the white sheet that covered the girl’s slender nude body while Will watched. Gus studied the girl’s remains briefly, returned the sheet to just below her neck and stepped back. Over twenty-five years in the bowels of the Colson County City Hospital had taught the old man a thing or two about the variety of methods the morgue’s residents had when it came to dying. “Coulda been a swinger. Don’t see no signs of a struggle to call this a homicide, no bruises or such. Hair ain’t even mussed. But look at these rope burns around her throat.” He pointed to the thick purple smear just below her chin. “She didn’t get those burns from wearin’ her pearl necklace too tight. But murder by stranglin’s usually messier than this, 'count of the strugglin’ goes on. Hell, they sometimes even find traces of the killer’s skin under a victim’s fingernails. But this little girl’s just as neat as a pin. Yeah, hangin’s what coulda done it. She sure did leave a fine lookin’ corpse, though.” For a moment Gus seemed to drift, then he suddenly became all business. “Anyways, I don’t have no time for this mess. You grab her legs while I get this end.” The old man pulled out the wall drawer numbered 73 and they placed the girl’s body on the slab. Her arm dangled over the side, and Will stared at it, hesitating before reaching for it. He held the hand a moment, then gently lifted it and placed the arm at her side. The coldness seemed all wrong, like it didn’t belong to the delicate hand he had touched. “She looks like she’s sleeping,” Will said. “Hard to believe she’d want to kill herself, a beautiful girl like her.” Gus snorted bitterly. “Yeah, but sometimes these Janes get themselves a sweet-tooth habit that gives them a little help checkin’ in here. Time or money runs out on them. I seen enough young girls on slabs in this room got veins in their arms you could route Amtrak along.” He turned the girl’s wrists toward him and studied the veins threading up from them. “But not these arms, I s’pose. Don’t see no signs she did any joy poppin’ in these arteries. Though sometimes…” He again lifted the sheet from her foot and studied the thin veins spidering from her ankles. “No, she didn’t take no side trips neither. Skin’s clean as vanilla. Can’t read this one’s story on skin this clean, 'cept maybe for them rope burns. But I guarantee tomorrow there’ll be some doctors readin’ her story on this skin.” “Must be some story,” Will said. “Yeah, well you can put the rest of the pieces together yourself, William. I got a few other rooms need tendin’ to, and I believe you got a TV monitor panel down the hall with your name on it. 'Sides, Dr. Roland don’t like no one in here that don’t have to be.” He pushed the slab back into the freezer cabinet in the wall. Slab 73, Will thought as Gus locked the door behind them. An easy enough number to remember...
 *** From his station in Corridor A, Will Cotter watched monitor 6 showing the morgue as the camera's electronic eye panned from right to left and back. Although ten monitors glowed in the dark corner of the hallway where he sat, Will watched only one. The gurney remained near cabinet 73 where Gus had left it. An examination table was in the center of the room, a plastic opaque shroud neatly folded upon it. For three months he watched ܁ѡх)х݅́Ʌ%XѼɕѥӊéɥЁݡٕȁѡݡɹ䁙ɽѡ)хɕѼѡɝՔQ́ɕѕѡͥ)ѡЁٕѥЁѡ䁵ٕٕ݅́ٔݕɔ)ЁQхɅ͔́ЁѼ͕Ёѡ)ѡȁѥ́ݥѠѡɕȁѡЁЁѡȁՕ)Ёѡɽ՝ѡɅ]܁ѡ)Ʌѽٕ́ɕѡȁ͕́́ݕ́ѡ䁍ٕɕѡȁ̸͕QɝՔݼ̰)ɽѡAѡѵаѡЁ((0