Monday, June 4, 2012

Timed Writing: 5/31/2012



Time: 10 minutes
Prompt: "... Ralph was rifling through the dead man's pockets..."
Source: 4 x 5 x 2 + 6 x 2 + 4 = The River Why by David Jones Duncan

Ralph was rifling through the dead man's pockets when I arrived. I hoped that he was just looking for identification.

"You call the police already?" I asked.

"I wanted you to see him first. I though if you..." He drifted off mid-sentence, as he so often did.

"You thought what? I might be able to do something? About this? I'm a doctor, not..." I got a better look at the body. "Jesus," I said.

I stepped closer and knelt on the pavement beside the corpse. There was no head. The body was that of a tall, heavy man, dressed in a shabby tweed suit, with dirty, worn-down, gray athletic shoes on the feet, but where the head should have been, there was just a stump with the skin stretched over and joined in a puckered seam. There were a few drops of dried blood along the closure, but none to be seen on the ground or the clothing.

"Call the police," I said.

Ralph hadn't found anything in the pockets. He stood up and padded down his own chest and pants with both hands. "I guess I left my cell at home," he said. "Mind if I..."

I gave him my Blackberry and turned back to the corpse. When he stepped out of the light, something glinted near the corpse's neck. I bent close and saw that it was a curved needle, maybe half an inch long, dangling by a monofilament suture from one end of the neck seam.

A simple decapitation wouldn't have left enough skin to stretch over the stump -- the skin must have been cut high, just below the chin and the base of the skull, and then stripped down like a sock being bunched around an ankle, before the neck was severed at a lower level. That would have left enough excess skin to cover the wound. The final subcuticular stitch with the monofilament provided excellent cosmetic closure and occlusion, but would not have been structurally sufficient for such a long wound. It was probably added after a couple lines of subcutaneous and dermal stitches. Someone had gone to a lot of trouble... and yet they'd left a loose end, this dangling suture with the needle still attached.


(about my timed writing exercises)


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