Because Leah had died of unnatural causes, the very next day the city coroner’s office, over my vehement objections, ordered an autopsy and a pathologist was dispatched to Herring’s Jaw to perform it. I knew all too well how the procedure would go. A plastic rubber brick, or “body block,” would be placed under her back causing her arms and neck to fall backward while stretching and pushing the chest upward to make it easier to slice open. The cuts would be made to create a large and deep Y-shape, starting at the top of each shoulder and running down the front of the chest, on the insides of her beautiful small breasts, meeting at the lower point of the sternum before extending all the way down to the pubic bone. This last cut would only make a slight deviation to the side of her navel. Shears would then be used to open the chest cavity and expose her internal organs, in all of their visceral colors, in order for them to be systematically removed, examined and weighed like hunks of meat at a butcher’s shop.
Afterwards, the body block would be moved in order for it to be used to elevate her head. A Stryker saw would then cut through the skull, to create a “cap” that could be pulled off, exposing Leah’s brain with a level of detail far more lurid than Joel Darling’s hatchet could ever accomplish on his father’s skull. Her brain’s connection to the cranial nerves and spinal cord would be severed and her brain lifted out of the skull for further examination and weighing.
Against my better judgment, I went to view her body in the morgue after the autopsy had been performed and the cause of death had been officially entered into the ledger as “intentionally self-inflicted asphyxiation (non-autoerotic)”. As I stared at her bloodless face, I noticed the ‘invisible’ stitches just below the hairline which had been used to sew the “cap” back on in the event an open casket was opted for. They stood in stark contrast to the large metal staples used to reseal her cotton-lined chest cavity, her organs crassly piled into a thick plastic bag inside to prevent leakage. My stomach turned queasy. The fond memories of my life with her churned within me as if erupting from tectonic action at the bottom of an angry sea. How could it all now be reduced to this on a cold slab in an anonymous mortuary drawer? I touched her rigid hand and softly kissed her lips once. “Goodbye Leah,” I whispered as I resolved to have her remains cremated and delivered to me as soon as the arrangements could be made.
After signing some forms I left the morgue and, with the usual misfortune of someone already in the throes of insufferable pain, promptly bumped into Claudia and Brody. Just like everyone else in town, they smiled weakly and cast their eyes downwards, awkwardly, not knowing what to say.
“How… how are you?” asked Brody, after a few moments of silence, shuffling and plucking at his muscle shirt.
“Well,” I sighed, marveling at the inanity of the question, “I really don’t know.” Struck by the inanity of my response, as true as it was, I glanced nervously at Claudia’s bump and said “how are you, Claudia? Everything okay?”
“Oh, yes!” she said, smiling brightly, clearly relieved I had shifted the topic of wellness away from myself. “He’s kicking right now. Here,” she said, taking my hand, “feel.”
This was the last thing I wanted to do but Brody egged me on with a “go for it, doc!” so I let Claudia place my hand on the lower right of her belly.
“I don’t feel anything,” I said tersely and tried to withdraw my hand.
“Wait,” said Claudia, breathlessly. “There!” she said, laughing. “You must have felt THAT!”
“Oh, my God!” I almost shouted.
“I know! He’s having a ball in there,” chuckled Brody. “Hey, doc, are you okay? You look kind of shaky all of a sudden.”
“I’m fine… fine,” I lied. “But I’ve got to get going. Thanks. See you two later.”
I disengaged myself from Claudia and stalked off down the quiet street. “Having a ball in there,” I muttered to myself. “THAT was anger…”
To be continued…
Part I is available at: https://requiemforthedamned.com/2013/06/30/deep-freeze-part-i/
Part II is available at: https://requiemforthedamned.com/2013/07/11/deep-freeze-part-ii/