Part Something or Other
We left Prep Room C and went quietly- but very quickly- down the corridor. I could feel the movement and, of course, utter joy of it all. We turned right, then left, heading towards the reception desk.
Where we ran into… Doctor Dierdre Allison McCaffrey! Medical Examiner and Chief Pathologist! who was in the middle of haranguing the receptionist. We slowed down as she turned to face us.
“What the fuck is this?”
She looked duly askance at us. And- putting two and two together- began to seethe. Keeping her eyes on us, she instructed the receptionist.
“Dorothy- ring Security now!” She was totally beside herself. Outraged.
Steph barely slowed down as she removed a canister from within the folds of her gown. Dorothy the receptionist was reaching for the phone as Doctor McCaffrey turned to face us squarely. Steph sprayed the hapless Dorothy first, who froze mid-dial, then… down she went. Steph gave a big spray to Doctor Deirdre Allison McCaffrey- right in the kisser; she likewise went down too- before she going totally apoplectic.
Steph didn’t pause, wheeling me around the corridor, turning one corner, then another, and again, heading for the door in the distance.
Whee. Quel Frolic!
Where waited two Security men, converging, gripping AR-17s and looking none too pleased. They were positioning themselves in front of the doors. So… as Steph and I approached, she began talking in a loud voice.
“This patient is hyperemiating and needs a glucosal infusion stat! Before he infarcts!!!”
The security guards weren’t giving much countenance to what Steph said. One chewed a matchstick in a kind of the studied nonchalance. The other addressed us.
“You have three seconds to turn around and head back to Prep Room C”
Both of them raised their weapons
Steph and I slowed down.
“You don’t understand! We’re taking him to the rehabitory! For reticulative coronary aspiration!”
They both took their safeties off.
“But this is hypercritical,” Steph added, “There are indications of severe phlebotic necrosis,” speeding up again. We were about 20 feet from the guards.
“Two…” They sighted us in their scopes.
“We have clearance from Pathology!” added Steph. But… the obfuscation didn’t appear to have an effect on either of guards. Oi.
“Three.” The guards zeroed in. We were in a bit of a bind, as far as I could tell, peering from beneath the sheet. And getting ready for God knows what.
A human form emerged in kind of dream behind the guards- from seemingly nowhere- and bashed first one, then the other, right on the ol’ noggins. Whoa! They froze for a moment, looking bewildered. Then? Down they went too! Kinda dropping like flies around here, I thought. Left, Right… and Center. Kerpow.
This mysterious man was, as it turned out…
Fucking MAX. My man! The other morgue attendant. The one who had been on a cappuccino run when Steph had gotten tazered and I had been, to my chagrin, absconded with.
“Hello, Pinnochio,” he said, grinning.
He removed the sheet I had been peering out from under and patted me on the head affectionately.
He smiled at me, looked down at the two guards, shook his head, then gestured us out the door.
“Not a great place to be hanging around, eh? Let’s get out of here, okay?”
Steph had gotten out (another) iPhone from her pocket. She looked at the message, then smiled at Max.
“Good idea, Maxim.”
And we exited the Re-Animation Center, together, one big very happy family.
Detective Mary Gregory couldn’t sleep.
She’d knocked back a few at The Basement Tavern on Main then drove home in a dire funk. She now sat in her living room, full of conjecture and growing doubt, going through her notes. No one at the SMPD gave a shit about a stolen cadaver and a couple of missing morgue attendants- but she did. With growing intensity.
In fact, she was pretty goddamned obsessed.
Even though it was the middle of the night, she picked up the phone and connected to forensics.
An attendant picked up saying, “Hold on a minute… I’m eating pistachios.”
Mary Gregory waited, counting her breaths.
The attendant was going through her notes. She replied,
“Yeah. Pretty weird…”
Detective Mary Gregory tapped her foot maniacally.
“Yeah,” spitting out bits of pistachio shells… “We have an i.d. on one of the attendants.”
Mary Gregory sat up, reaching for another gulp of Scotch, beyond impatience now.
“Fucking tell me!”
The attendant wouldn’t be hurried.
Detective Mary Gregory waiting, nearly apoplectic. She rolled her head around to clear out the cobwebs.
“Well, it would seem that one of the cadaver prints is that of an Anatomy School specimen. Which is pretty fucking bizarre. We were able to trace the prints back and… and we got a ‘limited’ identification.” Detective Mary remained very still. “… and a preliminary I.D. comes back as… you know the Anatomy School isn’t allowed to release her particulars, but we persisted…”
Detective Mary Gregory counted to ten under her breath. She had to be patient- the ability to circumvent Lab School data was pretty difficult going.
“… as a one Susan Ryan. But we backtracked a bit- quite a bit actually- and got finally got her pegged- from an Incidental Diener’s Report- as Stephanie Roberts. Born in 1990. Died four years ago. Her body was donated to U.S.C. And now… Wow! Her thumbprint turns up in the St. John’s morgue. Which is wiped down every few minutes as they scrub all the surfaces- gotta keep a clean morgue, no? All in all, I’d say this is pretty weird.”
Yes. Pretty weird.
“The other print we haven’t been able to I.D. We’re still working on it, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.”
Detective Mary could hear her crunching away on the other end of the line.
“What’s your name,” she asked.
“Me? Melanie. Melanie Goldfish. I’m the night attendant here.”
“Well, Melanie Goldfish. Really good work. But I need you to keep looking into the second print, really deep. Go beyond the normative data bases. And…. are there any conclusions about the traces of… goo we found around the lockers? And in any more on the stolen… (she was somehow adverse to calling it- him- a cadaver, but she did for lack of a better term) cadaver?”
The crunch of pistachios abated for a moment.
“Well. No. And no.” She hesitated for a moment, then…. “Wait (rifling through lab reports). Yeah… the one substrate we found from the residue is… let me see… Oh yeah. HGH. It’s a human growth hormone.”
“Yeah. I know what it is. Odd, that.” She made a note on her pad.
“I know, right?” (spitting out of more pistachio parts). “It was very, very subtle, but we found by it by a running second and third screen.”
“Okay. Keep at it. I think there is something extremely untoward going on here. Thank you.”
She hung up and thought for a minute. Wow. She had a name- Stephanie Roberts. The morgue attendant. And a hit on the substance found near the freezer. It didn’t make any sense; how could a dead woman 1) get a job in the mortuary and lab and 2)…
No. 2) brought her back back to 1). She was sobering up a little too fast. So….
She decided to dial the Santa Monica Detective’s Division. She leaned back on the sofa rubbing her neck.
She racked her brain.
“Jorgen? Are you new?”
Jorgen was probably smoking an e-cig.
“Not by a long shot. And this is the troublemaker Detective Mary Gregory? Who kinda blew it on the murdered twins case?” he exhaled.
“Careful what you fucking say, you little snot.” Jesus. The night detectives and their assistants were really a bit too much. Not that the case involving the murdered twins was her finest hour- hence the month off in the Barbados where she had been bored to fucking tears. And more than a little remorseful. Damn it! She had been taken down a long, twisting alley on that one.
“Look here, dickbreath,” she had lit two American Spirits by mistake… shit.
“I need to find out if there’s an update on the missing cadaver.”
Jorgen had her wait a couple of minutes. She put out one of The American Spirits (Yellow package) back into place.
He came back on the line and started reading from the notes.
“Sixty year old male. Autopsy reads it was an accidental overdose.” Jorgen shuffled through the paperwork.
“Let me stop you right there. I talked with Armen Ghookasian, the pathologist who did the autopsy. He claims it was murder- an injection of three Anti-Psychotics. Through a microscopic site. He’s pretty pissed that the Autopsy Report was messed with”
“Well, that’s news to us. Why would someone change the report?” He was drawing on his e-cig and flipping pages. “That kinda changes things.”
“I’ll say. I’m meeting with him in the morning.” Which was three hours form now. “In the meantime…?”
“Yes?” More attentive now.
“I want you to find out every you can on a Doctor Avery Clarke. The Third. He works at the hospital (flipping through her notes) ”…as an Oncologist. But there’s something very weird about this guy. Find out his relationship with Stephanie Roberts. And our missing corpse. And… our missing Morgue Attendant, Maxim Jourdine. Who doesn’t appear to exist. But he does. Or did.”
“Okay. Done. Call back in a few hours.” Jorgen drew on his e-cig. “And Detective?”
“Yes?” Impatient now to get to bed.
“Sorry about my comment. Regarding the murdered twins. Uncalled for.”
Mary pondered a moment.
“Asshole. You’re forgiven.” And hung up.
NEXT: A WHOLE BUNCHA STUFF HAPPENS!