Subcutaneous Magazine Fall 2016 - Page 11

to a dark alleyway between the two hospital wings. When the hearse from the funeral home pulled up to the doorway, the funeral people did the paperwork inside the pathology offices. A staff person then escorted them back to the hearse. Hospital personnel moved cadavers from the storage chambers in Room 111-B directly to the awaiting hearse outside. An efficient operation, really, one that literally asked death to sneak out through the back door. The monitor’s camera swung to number 73 again, and Will clicked the switch that stopped its movement. Seen through the camera’s eye the cabinet seemed ordinary. But the medical examiners had this rule that the monitor had to be switched off whenever a cabinet was opened because most on the floor would find what went on during an examination a tad disturbing. Will pictured the young girl under the shroud inside the cabinet, her full soft lips slightly parted, her skin white and velvety. He wondered what her voice would have sounded like, and he realized he would never know. But he wanted to know... *** At 6:45 a.m. the kid who delivered coffee and donuts to the morning shift nurses and orderlies dropped the Colson County Daily News at Will's desk. Will found the headline that read Unknown Girl Apparent Suicide buried on page eight. The article mentioned her body had been found hanging from a rafter at the Interstate Motel off I-65. The manager had claimed he thought the room was vacant because no one had signed the register for that room. The girl had simply walked in, closed the door behind her, and did her little dance at the end of a rope. She left no identification. Beyond that the two paragraphs added nothing to what he already knew, and that indicated no one else knew very much either. During the next few hours of the morning Allen Roland would contact Dr. Philip Carliner in forensics to supervise the girl’s post-mortem because of her questionable death. The two men would study the young woman’s corpse like a textbook, analyze and scrutinize the rope burns around her throat, reading her skin just like Old Gus had said. When they finished, they would return her to drawer 73 and issue a coroner’s report to the police and the press. If foul play were suspected, or if no one stepped forward to claim her, they might later cut the girl open to discover where and when she had eaten her last meal. If she were alone, it might have been at a local roadside diner. The coroner would analyze the food and the police would follow the bread crumbs to their origin just like the kids lost in the woods in the fairy tale. Soon someone - a parent, a friend, perhaps a lover - would claim the body, and she would have a name. She would belong to someone else, and that person would sign the papers that would take the girl from Room 111-B. A few days later someone would bury her. And Will would never see her again. Looking down the long corridor, he saw no one. He clicked off monitor 6 and followed the hallway to the door marked Pathology Department. Selecting two keys from the ring on his belt he slipped the first key into the lock. He used the other key to open the unmarked door that led to the morgue. Closing the door gently behind him he leaned against it, taking a moment to adjust to the liver-and-onions smell of frozen cadavers. His shift still had ten minutes to go and if anyone came in he could always explain he was doing one last round before logging out. No one was supposed to be inside the morgue unless given clearance, but he was the night guard. They gave him the keys, so what excuse did he really need? …Unless, of course, someone happened to walk in after he had pulled open the drawer to cabinet 73. *** Ten minutes later Will returned to his station in Corridor A to log out for the morning. Old Gus sat waiting for him behind the desk, and he did not look happy. Will looked at monitor 6 and realized Gus had turned it back on. “Jesus, are you crazy or just plain stupid?” the old attendant snarled as he spun in the chair toward him. “I wondered why this one monitor’d been turned off with no one in that room. Anybody would see what I just saw on this screen and you’d be pickin’ up your pink slip on your way out of here. Just what do you think you was doin’ with that girl?” Will knew Gus was too smart to buy anything that was not the truth. “Gus, it’s not like that. I-” “Save it! I know what I seen!” the old man hissed and got to his feet. He poked Will in the ribs as he spoke. “You was holdin’ on to her, swayin’ on that slab