The Body

 The Body

Anna lay there on the floor, crumpled in a flesh heap after having taken poison.  She planned on making it to her bed to lie down, but the poison got to her first.  She took too much and drank a bit of rum to wash it down.  As for why a twenty-three year-old woman would commit suicide is unknown, for she didn't leave a note.

The coroner's team arrived at her home a few hours after she'd taken the poison.  The medical examiner pronounced her dead shortly after he arrived.  The team found the open bottle of poison on the kitchen counter.  No evidence of foul play had occurred, so they took a few pictures of the scene as a formality and stuffed her in a body bag.

She arrived at the morgue in the back of a fairly new, unmarked van.  The ride was a little bumpy, for the roads and streets of Rhode Island are rarely fixed on time.  Election years are especially good times to work for road repair crews in Rhode Island.  This was no election year.

The diener wheeled her on a gurney through the corridors of Rhode Island General Hospital, down two floors on the elevator, and into the coroner's office, while whistling the theme from The Smurfs.

“Got a pretty one for you, Doc.  She took poison to get here.  See what you can do for her,” Randy said, handing Doctor Frank the papers.

“Put her in the x-ray room and we'll start there,” Doctor Frank said.  Randy pushed the gurney into the x-ray room and slid some plates under her body as Doctor Frank warmed the machine up.  When Randy left the x-ray room, Doctor Frank pushed the button and took Anna's picture from the inside.  When the machine's green light came back on, Randy took the plates to the lab to have them develop the images.  While Doctor Frank waited, he and Randy went off to lunch.

Doctor Frank's beeper went off as they finished eating in the hospital cafeteria.  The plates were developed and on his desk.  Since the patient was in no condition to complain about timely service by doctors and nurses, Doctor Frank and Randy finished their lunch at a leisurely pace.

They walked to the morgue after lunch. “I'll let you help me this time, Randy.  You don't have anything to do for the next two hours, do you?  Are there any bodies on your agenda?”

“No, Doc.  I'd love to assist you with this one.”

“I thought so.  You did say she was a pretty one.  I'm sure that has a lot to do with it.”

“Well, yeah.”

“As I suspected.  Come on, I'll let you indulge in a couple of fantasies, just don't get a boner while you're watching me or I'll send you away.  Got it?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Good.  Now, to start an autopsy, you do it like this.  First, you look at the x-rays.  Put them on the light table, you know how.” Randy hung the plates on the body-sized light table and turned on the light.

“She's pretty even on the inside, Doc.”

“Yes, she is.  Look at that bone structure.  Her body proportions are as perfect as they can get.  Height, a hundred sixty centimeters, weight, sixty kilograms.  Never had any children, tongue and both nipples are pierced, and four places in her labia and two in her navel.  No broken bones, and only two fillings in her teeth.  Now, let's take a look at the body.  Start by opening the body bag like this.”

Doctor Frank opened the body bag with the zipper, starting at the head.  He opened it all the way, head to foot.  Her body had several tattoos in addition to the piercings.

“She really was a pretty one, what did I tell you, Doc?”

“Yes she was, but keep it in your pants.  The good part has yet to come!  Now you look at her clothing.  Notice if they're clean or dirty.  In her case, her clothing is clean.  She is wearing a pair of denim shorts of expensive brand name, and a tee shirt with a band on it, Bauhaus.  I've never heard them.  Her shoes are a decent athletic brand, and her jewelry looks real.  She isn't wearing an engagement or wedding ring.  Now that we have described her clothing, we remove it gently if possible, but if it's too difficult or the clothing is in too bad a condition, we cut it off.  In her case, you can just pull it off of her.  You can take her shoes off, but don't lick her feet.  I know your type.”

Randy removed her shoes and socks, and followed Doctor Frank's orders not to do anything fun with her feet, though he looked with longing.

“She does have pretty feet, Doc.”

“Yes, her feet are pretty.  Judging by the looks of her legs and the muscle tone, she may have been a dancer or into martial arts, though she may also have done a little running or swimming occasionally.  She's slender, not a jock.  Now, while you remove her tee shirt, I'll remove her shorts.”

Randy moved to a position near her head so that he could easily remove Anna's tee shirt.  He waited for Doctor Frank to unbutton her shorts, giving him easy access to the hem.  He pulled her arms over her head and took the tee shirt by its hem, and pulled it gently over her head.  She wasn't wearing a bra, having small breasts.  A rose tattoo adorned her heart.  Doctor Frank removed her knickers.

“Body is a slender and lean twenty-three year old female, name Anna DePolis.  Apparent cause of death is the ingestion of poison.  I am going to draw some blood now to confirm that this is indeed the case.

Doctor Frank spoke into a tape recorder. “Upon examining the mouth and throat areas, I can find no physical damage from the poison itself, indicating that the poison was not a corrosive of some sort.  At this time, I venture to guess that it was a neurotoxin, judging by the muscle tone and lack of rigor mortis.  There are no particular or unusual odors, and the body is in excellent condition.” He slid a needle into Anna's arm and drew several ounces of blood, and handed them to Randy. “Take these to the lab and tell them to run a full toxicology screen stat.  I want to go home early today.  She's my last one.”

“Gotcha,” Randy said, and hurried to the lab.  When he got back to the morgue, Doctor Frank was reading a book.

“You're getting faster every time you run to the lab, Randy.  Let's go for coffee.”

“I'd love some coffee.  I'm getting a bit tired, the caffeine will help.”

“Same here.  Waiting around for results is what takes up most of my time.  If we had our own lab and lab assistant, like on NCIS, we'd have no problem with speed.”

“Like the hospital administrator will see to that!”

“You're his nephew.  Why don't you try to see what you can get for us?”

“More pretty bodies?”

“Not like that.  More test equipment.  I can perform tests faster than the lab here.  Finish your coffee, I bet I'll get beeped by the time you're done.”

“A quarter says you're wrong.”

“You're on,” Doctor Frank said, putting a quarter on the table next to Randy's.  Randy took a sip of the hot coffee as Doctor Frank's pager went off.

“It's the results.  They're in.” Randy slid his quarter over to Doctor Frank's and finished his coffee as they walked back to the morgue.  He tossed the cup into the janitor's trash cart.

Doctor Frank looked at the toxicology report.  His eyes opened wide as he saw a familiar neurotoxin, bufotenin, in Anna's bloodstream.

“Why the look, Doc?”

“There's not enough bufotenin to kill her, but she's dead.  She may have taken something else entirely with the bufotenin.  Are the results back from what was in that poison bottle?”

“It was bufotenin, and a high blood alcohol level, point two two.”

“That might have something to do with it.  Well, let's do the hard part.  Help me move her onto the slab.  We have to cut this pretty one open.”

Randy helped move Anna to the dissection slab.  Doctor Frank turned on the light overhead, and put on a pair of surgical gloves and his magnifying glasses.  Randy lifted her to a seated position and Doctor Frank slid a body block under her back.

“Usually, when I work alone, I don't bother with the mark.  I'll make the mark for you, though, because I'm training you to become a coroner.  Hand me the body marking pen.” Randy passed him the pen, and Doctor Franklin drew a large Y on her chest that extended down to her pubic bone, and then a second line under her breasts, meeting up with the vertical part of the Y. “Now put your face mask down, sometimes bodies squirt when you cut them open.  You don't ever want to get blood in your eyes, that could be the end of you.  Got it?”

“Got it,” Randy said, lowering his face shield.  Doctor Frank picked up a scalpel from his tray and leaned over Anna with it.

“Now, to examine the inner organs and figure out exactly why this young woman died,” he said, bringing the point of the scalpel directly over Anna's right shoulder.  As his arm rested on her breastbone, she opened her pretty eyes as the blade contacted her skin and looked at Doctor Frank.

“Is this going to hurt?” She asked.

Kevin Zabbo

Kevin Zabbo was born the usual way in Providence, RI in 1965. Something dreadful must have happened between his bright and cheerful childhood days and now that caused him to become dark, but still maintain a smile while writing dark comedy. He is somewhat reclusive, known only to a few bartenders and pot sellers, and fish fear him. Please keep a weather eye out for this weirdo, or you might miss something


  1. Very well done. Easy to follow and ending surprised me. Good job.

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