The Nefarious Mr. X

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Later that evening.

Doctor Carolyn Forde, twenty year veteran of the hospital and director of the morgue. She held two medical degrees; one as a general practitioner and the second, a specialty in pathology.

Even with all the death that surrounded her, she loved the direction of her life.

She spoke for the dead.

Standing at six feet, sporting a fit physique from her constant refusal to use elevators, considering them electronic coffins waiting to invite more guests to her office, she spoke with a quiet voice, tempered by an Irish lilt. She wore square rimmed glasses, which she kept low on her nose.

She was in the corner of the morgue, before a flat brightly lit X-ray screen panel, reading two large films of a body brought in.

There was a knock at the door.

Two paramedics entered, sliding a rolling gurney in front of them, a long black bag upon it.

She gestured them to place it against the wall.

They were gone as quickly as they appeared.

She turned as the medical intern casually walked in, who paused to scowl at the black bag, pen in his mouth and stethoscope around his neck, clearly denoting he preferred living patients to dead ones.

“Delivery?” He asked, speaking with the pen still between his teeth making it sound like, “Der-ivery?”

Doctor Tyler Vern was a young man, having recently graduated, small in stature with thin reed like arms, no hair on his head and pasty white skin not unlike many of her guests.

She put down her current work and moved toward the gurney, not answering his question.

Doctor Forde knew doctors, past and present, had to intern with her for a few days, to give them an understanding of the end.

Showing them what arrogance, failure or delays could cause, to teach them how fragile a human life is and any error, large or small, had the same results.

She leaned over the black bag and searched for the clipboard that the paramedics always left with it.

Doctor Vern sighed with impatience. He wanted something to do, knowing he only had to rotate two weeks here. He asked with some tension in his tone. “Anyone special?”

She looked up from the chart she found. Everyone was special in her eyes. God giving them the gift of life, infusing them with a soul, now gone, made them special by extension of that.

But she felt no need to mention it.

It would fall upon deaf ears.

She quietly replied instead. “He doesn’t have a name.”

The internist looked at the bag.

He yanked down the zipper with a shocking pull.

Doctor Forde wanted to say something, but held it in.

She figured she would buckle down and count the days until he was gone.

Doctor Vern looked him over. “Two gunshot wounds. Both shoulders. Severe bruising in the chest. A bulletproof vest?”

Doctor Forde concurred. “The paramedics probably cut it off when they tried to resuscitate him.”

She continued reading. “He fell from a twenty foot walkway.”

Doctor Vern joked. “Too bad they don’t make fall-proof vests huh?”

Doctor Forde glared, not a fan of mocking those who passed on.

Doctor Forde leaned in and stared at the scars on the scalp. “He appears to have suffered a head injury in past.” She pulled out a metal thermometer from her jacket, one with a long sharp point to penetrate to the liver and validate the time of death.

The paramedics may have noted it, but all pathologists trusted their own eyes.

Doctor Forde placed her hand on the body to pinpoint the insertion point when she froze. She moved her hand again, a little higher and pressed harder.

Doctor Vern was looking at a scalpel on the metal tray when he felt the stethoscope pulled from off his neck, nearly dragging him to the floor. He snapped. “What the fuck?”

Doctor Forde already had the earpieces in her eardrums, pressing the flat end against the body. “My God.”

Doctor Vern was already beside her looking down. “What?”

“Get upstairs and get me thirty cc’s of adrenaline and a crash cart.” She was pressing the body parts, feeling for warmth. “This man has a pulse. Its weak but its there.”

“How is that possible?”

“Maybe our head injury victim was in a coma once. I’ve no idea. But I’ve read reports that when a former coma victim suffers a severe shock, they revert back into a coma state naturally, remembering when its body was most safe. It slows the heart, pulse and brain functions to focus on healing, appearing dead.”

Doctor Vern was, for the first time, happy to be in pathology. “Amazing.”

Doctor Forde yelled. “Goddamn it. Get that adrenaline.”

“On it.” Doctor Vern bolted for the door.

Before he was out the door, he shouted back. “Should we call someone? Let them know?”

Doctor Forde looked at the name tag. “There’s no one we can call. His name is John Doe.”

Doctor Vern’s footsteps softened in the distance.

Doctor Forde pushed up and down on his chest, providing CPR.

‘Since everyone thinks you’re dead, I doubt anyone will come looking for you Mr. Doe.’ She paused. ‘But look at the bright side. At least you’re alive.’

The End….?

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