In the movies, they always go down to the
morgue to see the body and talk with the
who runs the place. You know, the Jack Klugman-type fella. That seemed
like the thing to do. The phone book told me where to go, and was polite
about it too, so I went there.
It wasn't easy to get in so as a last
resort I tried my press credentials. Lo and behold! They worked. The
walking pimple at the front desk must have been new to the City or a lover
of literature because his reaction was the complete opposite of the harpy
at the pig pen. Of course, it could have been a vindication for euthanasia
In any event, he paged someone in a lab
coat to take me down to the deep freeze to check out the body. They knew
exactly who I wanted to see when I described her. "Oh," said the
Pimple, "the one with the cha-cha-pinkos. Too bad she's just meat,
now, or I'd give a month's pay to squeeze those babies."
"Yeah, sure. If she was breathing air,
you wouldn't even get close enough to wonder how big they were."
He glared at me but he didn't change his
mind about letting me in because the guy in the lab coat showed up right
then. He looked just like I always imagined Dr. Science to be. Tall as
Lincoln, droopy face and ears like a beagle, short hair and clean shaven,
with Poindexter glasses. He even had the same deep
"This way, if you please," he
I followed him to the elevator and we went
down a few floors, getting cold and colder. The good doctor didn't say
anything until we reached the bottom where he again intoned, "This
way, if you please."
Trying to be friendly I asked, "Work
long in the catacombs, hmm?"
Dr. Science looked at me and blinked a few
times. "Oh, in Rome. No, but I went to school in a place that smells
He looked at me some more, blinked, and
"Seattle. The forests smell of decay
"Oh." We looked at each other a
moment, he blinking, me staring.
"This way," he murmured. I
followed him through some hallways and down some stairs until we got to a
room that had a big refrigerator door.
Here, we paused, and the doctor looked
pensive. "With the type of people we see here, it always amazes me
that these rooms stay so cool."
"Say what? I don't get it."
"One would figure, wouldn't one,"
he said most seriously, "that the closer one came to hell, the hotter
it would become."
"I see what you mean."
"Oh well," he shrugged with
little conviction. "Shall we proceed?" He opened a door and,
"This way, if you please."
I should have brought a jacket; it was a
few degrees above freezing. If that. We went over to the blonds latest
resting place, a metal drawer in the biggest Amana I'd ever seen. Dr.
Science opened the drawer for me and jammed it open with a block of wood
taken from his pocket.
She was buck naked and beautiful. I don't
think I've ever seen such large breasts standing straight up like that.
Someone had taken the time to clean her up, at least her hair wasn't a
tangle of seaweed. I looked into her face, the eyes weren't open this time
and by God if she didn't look like she was asleep. I almost wanted to jab
her in the side to make sure but reasoning got the better of me.
I didn't know what to look for so I just
looked at her. Too bad, was all I could think.
"No, but it'll have to do."
"Yes. I know."
The doctor removed and pocketed the block
and the drawer silently slid shut on its own accord. Regret hung heavy on
his shoulders. "Want to talk about it?" I asked.
He looked pensive again before he spoke.
"Such a waste."
"Lots of young beautiful women die
every day. They must; there's so many of them in L.A. and they have to
make room for more."
"Are you always..."
"Such a smart ass? Yeah."
"And what newspaper did you say you
represented?" I told him and Doctor Science nodded. "Ah, yes.
I've heard of it. A bit offbeat, they say."
"That's putting it nicely. Any idea of
what she died of?"
"Oh yes. That's normally the cause of
death in drowning. Another form of suffocation is all."
"Good. So I can quote you on that?
Just kidding. Let me guess. You found fresh water in her lungs so somebody
drowned her in the bathtub and then dumped her in the ocean, right?"
"No. It was saltwater." He looked
at a clipboard dangling from the locker door and read, "Sally Van
Meter. Age: seventeen. Address: 3689 Glendon Avenue, Mar Vista. Cause of
death: fell off a sailboat at Emerald Bay, Catalina Island, and drowned.
It's all right here." He showed me the sheet of paper, all in black
and white, that summed up the life of the girl inside the drawer.
"Drugs or alcohol?"
"No. I don't believe she used
them." He looked at the dead girl and sighed softly.
"They identified her pretty quick,
didn't they? I mean she was just pulled out of the ocean a few hours
"She had a wallet in her pocket."
I didn't remember a wallet. "How could
she? Her pants were tighter than..."
Doctor Science looked at me, the picture of
introspection, then said, "I've got some things to do."
"This way, if you please?"
"No, that won't be necessary. You can
find your own way out, can't you?"
"Um. Yeah. I suppose so. What about
"My place is here. I have work to
I looked around the room. It would make a
good meat locker some day. All they needed were some hooks. As it was, I
was cold and getting colder. The temperature didn't appear to bother the
good doctor. Maybe he was used to it. I don't know, he was a pretty cold
fish anyway. I showed myself out, seeking light like a moth and heat like
The Pimple was still at the front desk when