The dead man had come in overnight.
He had been found in an alley on the lower East Side. Other than the clothes on his back, that was all the police had found at the scene. No I.D, No distinguishing marks…just a big grinning face. And now as Dr. Welby wrapped up his initial examination of the man, he also noted that the man had no finger-prints. Not burned off…just not there. They had to bring him in on a tow truck for some reason. The drivers were nervous and had left quickly.
It was obviously a homicide, hence the distorted features. But there were no bullet wounds, stab wounds, or signs of strangulation or any hint of the hundreds of other tell-tale signs that were scrutinized in each wrongful death determination.
Dr. Welby continued his post-mortem. “The victim is average height and build” he said into his ear recorder, “He is a caucasian male, mid 30’s with no outward signs of trauma other than the upper epidermis being abstract and disfigured. That shouldn’t have been what killed him, Dr. Welby thought to himself as he strode around to the head of the slab, re-adjusting the light…but maybe again…it is a frightful sight and some people are susceptible to shock at any time. All people react differently to shock. He still didn’t accept it as the cause of death.
He turned toward the exam room door when he heard it open. Dr. Kildare entered looking a tad ruffled. Dr. Kildare said without preamble “There’s nothing on the tox screen…no dope, poison or meds…I don’t get it, by all accounts this guy shouldn’t be dead”. Dr. Welby was kind of hoping the tox screen would offer some idea. But, shit! What now? Dr. Kildare said “Well, let’s get his weight before we open him up and look closer at Mr. Doe”.
The morgue table was set up as a scale itself that prevented the effort of moving a body more times than was warranted. Moving a body too much can create evidence, they both knew. Dr. Welby reached under the corner of the table and flipped the switch to on. They both looked toward the screen as the scale calibrated itself. The screen went black for a second or two, then, the numbers flashed. The man weighed 600 pounds!
Dr. Welby looked at his friend of 30 years and said quietly “Oh Shit…” Dr. Kildare kept looking at the screen, his bottom lip sucked into his mouth, leaning forward to tap the screen. He said nothing when the numbers didn’t change. “I’ve only heard about this one time before” Dr. Welby continued, looking at the body again. Dr. Kildare whispered “ I was there…they said it was only a game”.
“It was a week after they told me about this examination that they couldn’t figure out” said Welby. “Same exact signs now that I recall”. “That was 20 years ago” said Kildare. He had grown morose the longer he looked at the scale.
“ Just a game…” Welby repeated to himself, turning to his friend. Dr. Kildare shot him in the face.
Even before Dr. Welby had quit drumming his feet against the wet, damp floor, Dr. Kildare quickly made a hushed call on his cell phone. “Yes” was the only response he got from the man on the other end. Dr. Kildare looked down at his dead friend of 30 years. “I’m so sorry Marcus, but it’s my turn now” he sobbed quietly. Kildare turned, shuffling to the table where this other dead man lay. Dr. Kildare picked up the microscopic glasses and placed them over his eyes. He adjusted their fit, increasing the magnification. He had to get on with it.
He leaned over the mystery dead man, looking into his belly button. Without averting his eyes from the man’s belly button, he picked up a very small pair of forceps. Bracing his wrist with his other hand, he deftly removed the lint protective layer and saw the target.
There was a tremendous teeth rattling alarm when the forceps touched the edge of the belly button. The ear- piercing sound and the terrible vibration threw Dr. Kildare aside a step or two, but he quickly grabbed the edge of the exam table to stop his fall. “Holy Shit!” cried Dr. Kildare, not caring who heard him this time. He was shaking now, scared to death.
His cell phone chirped. Dr. Kildare jumped at the sound. Putting the phone to his ear, he said quietly “Yes?” The man on the other end asked “Did you get it?” Dr. Kildare answered “No sir…I…I…touched the side, I lost it” He waited for the response. The man on the other end of the call said quietly, but with a gravity that couldn’t be misunderstood.
“We need you to get that Funny Bone and Adams Apple, Doctor.”
Dr. Kildare swallowed hard. It WAS just a game to them.