Sunday, July 9, 2017

Stepping into the morgue felt to Sadie like stepping into a refrigerator. She immediately got the chills and shuddered. She knew that the shuddering was only partly caused by the temperature in the room. This is so creepy. She thought.
With Hank beside her she felt somewhat safe but that didn’t stop images of zombies and putrid flesh from entering her thoughts. When they entered the room of corpses, Hank flicked on the light and a series of neon fluorescents came on one by one. A low humming filled the room. Sadie noticed some of the lights flickered and immediately thought of the outdoor mosquito traps that David used to have during the summer months. The sound of that popping used to keep her up at night. Now we’re the fly. She thought dismally.
“Can we get this over with ASAP?” She groaned.
Hank stood at the morgue drawers, his brow furled. “ASAP.” He answered.
He pulled open one of the drawers and grabbed hold of the tray. Slowly, he pulled out the body of Jesus Christ. The body was covered in a shroud. Sadie couldn’t tell whether it was plastic or linen but she wondered vaguely if an imprint would be left on the material.
Hank closed his eyes and frowned. His wan complexion featureless like a mask. He appeared to be either on the verge of being sick or crying. Sadie couldn’t tell which. Did he believe? She thought. Was he one of the true Christians who lost their faith when the gods fell?  She hadn’t seen him wearing a cross but that didn’t mean he wasn’t Christian. Is he mourning his god right now?
Sadie took a step closer and put her head down. Hank stoically pulled back the shroud uncovering the head and shoulders and stepped back. “I know this is hard.” He said as if to himself. “It’ll just be a moment. Is this the man you saw?”
Sadie forced her eyes down, her mind retreating. She focused only on the details of the face. The Sadie that had been at the Basement last week was pulled deep into the recesses of her consciousness. That Sadie was locked safely away in her room. She was asleep and comfortable. This Sadie stared down at the face of a beautiful man. Deep set eyes and cheekbones cut like marble. He appeared to be sleeping and Sadie half expected to see his eyelids flutter. Dark skin and brushed hair made him statuesque. He looked nothing at all like the images found in art through the centuries. To Sadie, he looked more real and a bit mangy.
As she gazed down, memories of that night surfaced like a buoy on a stormy night. She flailed around subject to the whims of the wind and water. Her mind ached when she thought of his face as he fell. The look of surprise and resignation. “That’s him.” She muttered.
As she stood idly wondering how cold that table must feel on the body, she noticed that Hank was no longer beside her. On the other side of the room, he was bent over a pile of papers.
“What are you doing?” She asked. Hank glanced at her distracted. “What? Oh, I’m checking the log. Looking for something.”
She joined him frowning. “What are you looking for?”
He pushed the papers toward her. “An abrasion ring.”
Her eyes widened and she gestured for him to explain. “It’s a black ring burnt onto the body by gunpowder. It tells us whether the weapon was touching the body. In other words,-”
“Whether the shooter was at a distance or fired from point blank range.” Sadie finished.
He nodded. “Yeah. For somebody to get that close that fast, it’s possible it was somebody in his entourage; maybe somebody he knew.”
Sadie shook her head. “Or somebody who’s small and can move fast in crowded areas.”
Sadie stopped. A sudden anger rising within her. As she looked at Hank she could feel her kettle whistling. Her heart racing, she pointed at Hank’s face. “You’re an asshole!” Hank took a step back. “You didn’t need me to identify the body. You brought me here to see my reaction! So I’m a suspect!” She screamed.
Hank reached out and put a hand on her shoulder. “Everybody that was there is a suspect. You can’t blame me for entertaining the possibility.” Her eyes like molten fire, Sadie brushed his hand away from her. “You’re sick.” She said menacingly. “Take me home.”

Neither spoke as they walked outside and into a setting sun. Sadie thumbed the necklace that dangled from her neck. But she would not speak. On the freeway, Hank glanced over at her a few times but didn’t see the bloodshot eyes that stared numbly out the window. She wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of knowing she felt wounded.

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