Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Lane's Birthday

Aside from the clock going off, Granda was beating on my locked door. I lock it even as an adult, because as a kid I wasn't too sure about the bodies downstairs. The habit stuck which irritated my grandfather. With my head buried under the pillow it was possible to ignore the noise if Granda hadn't started shouting my name.

"Lane! Arse up boy!"

Granda had a nice strong Irish accent which would make him a favorite of Bingo parlors everywhere, if he actually went. Resigned to defeat, I shoved my body upright and staggered to the door in bare feet to let him in. He thrust an oddly-shaped package in my hands.

"For your birthday," he said, standing there to fill my doorway, big hands at his sides. His eyes shined with kid-like mischief. I raised an eyebrow.

"Uhh, thanks."

"Well? Go on, open it."

I sighed and peeled the black paper off in one big orange-peel curl to expose the red cap and green glass of 750 mL of Jameson Irish Whiskey.

"Well?" He prompted. I pasted on a smile.

"It's great," I said through clenched teeth. Even after fifteen years, it was painfully obvious he still didn't know me. He let out a big belly laugh and clapped a hand on my shoulder, nearly pitching me sideways.

"Good. I've got us a big breakfast waiting on the table. Get dressed and come see." He turned and left me standing there in my pajamas holding booze. I sat it on my bedside stand and glared at the clock. If I was going to make lab, I wouldn't be able to sit down to breakfast. Breakfast to Granda was like an eight-course meal. Besides that, I wasn't really hungry. I snatched up my clothes and headed for the shower.

Kade snorted at the rolled tacos I'd thrown together despite Granda's threats. Technically I was still having my big breakfast, never mind the sacrilege of rolling up his potatoes and bacon concoction in tortilla I'm not repeating what he said about them.

"Happy birthday kid," he said as he pulled his surgical mask over his nose and mouth. "Maybe you can go have a drink tonight after this."

"I've never been the type to drink," I said, adjusting my mask. "But after today, I just might start."

Kade's eyes grinned over the pale-blue paper. "It might be a good idea."

The autopsy was basically a slice and dice, measure, dip and stitch. Kade was one of the best pathologists in the state, so observing his techniques was always a treat. I finished the stitch work and disposed of the innards.

"So really," he said, tossing his gloves in the trash to wash his hands. "You don't have any plans? You're only twenty-one once."

I shrugged a shoulder. "There's not much I really want to do. Besides, I'm sure my grandfather will have something up his sleeve."

We finished early, so Kade told me to go ahead and take the rest of the day. Even the Gremlin was nice enough to get me home without much begging. Granda wasn't anywhere to be found when I walked in. Stevenson stopped me on the way to the kitchen.

"Sean's got a touch of food poisoning. He hasn't been well all day."

"Why didn't he call me?" I asked, dropping my keys into my pocket.

"Come on, you know your grandpa. Would Sean Daley ever ask anyone for help?"

"How many," I asked, my voice flat.

"Just one."

"What time."

Stevenson grimaced. His eyes cut to the side. "In an…hour?"

I rolled my eyes. I had one hour to get washed off, suited up and in front of a crowd of mourners. With Granda sick, somebody had to play funeral director. That somebody was going to be me.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Late Photographer

Photo credit: dorituz from

Chevelle played on the radio and Kade sang through his surgical mask as he worked. Blake knew the tune too, but he was serious for once. The cd ended in the player as Kade readied the autopsy equipment.

“Casey Manson, age 21, white female, date of death five May-ten,” Kade said into the recorder. “Visual inspection shows third-degree burns on hands and forearms, second-degree on upper arms. No other remarkable injuries, bruises, cuts or scrapes. Livor mortis appears fixed, rigor is moderate. Deceased is neither emaciated or obese. Pupils dilated.” He clicked off the recorder.

“Did the photographer come in yet?” His eyes were dark behind his glasses over the mask. Blake blinked and shook his head.

“Shit,” Kade said, and walked away from the decee through the door. He pulled his mask then his latex gloves off.

“She’s never on time.”

“Relax Kade,” Blake said and peeled off his mask too. “It’s not like the decee is going anywhere.”

Kade shot him a look. “She could rot before Wendy gets here.”

“Keep your gloves on,” Wendy said with a pop of gum as she strolled in, fresh as a summer breeze. Blake couldn’t help a double-take. She was wearing a micro-mini, fuchsia tights and low boots. Kade scowled at her wardrobe choices.

Wendy McGee was one of those girls—the kind that wanted to do one thing but settled for something completely different. Taking pictures of stiffs (as she called them) was never really where she saw herself ending up.

“Hey relax,” Wendy said with a Finesse-worth swish of champagne-blonde hair, “I’ve got scrubs in the locker. Give me a minute.” She paused at Blake and met his blue eyes with hers before shoving a black leather bag at him.

“Hang onto my camera while I get suited up.” She brushed past him to the prep room. Kade and Blake exchanged glances at the clop-clop of her boots hitting the floor one after another.

“I hope she’s not intending on wearing those things in there,” Kade growled.

“You know girls,” Blake said and sat the bag down carefully.

“Who in the hell photographs a decee on the way to a date?”

Kade Pherson'd worked at Sisters of Mercy Hospital as lead pathologist for going on eleven years. He ran a hand through his hair and pushed his glasses up on his nose.

“I was hoping I could get the auto out of the way before Dexter came on.”

“Dexter huh?” Blake snickered, “Should we be scared?”

Kade glared at him.

Blake had six months of interning left and then he was back in the lab, unless the hospital wanted to keep him for themselves.