My 78 year old mom called from the farm and asked me to set up a visit to “the lady doctor.” I made an appointment with my gynecologist, and dropped her there the first day of her holiday. On the drive home, she was uncharacteristically quiet. I asked her if everything(more) had gone okay.
“Well,” she said. “I guess it was all right.” She said slowly.
“Did the doctor find anything wrong? Are you okay?” I asked, a little worried.
“I am okay, but he did say something a little odd.” Mom said. “I just didn’t know how to take it.”
Dr. Engle was always professional and gracious; Mom must have misunderstood something. After all, her hearing is, well, old.
“What did he say?”
When he was down there he said, “My, how festive!”
“Yes, and you know how uncomfortable those appoints are! I am always careful to bathe and wear my best undies. I even used your special feminine deodorant spray that was on the counter.” She confided.
I do not use said product. I envisioned the guest room bath counter. Nothing came to mind. I figured mom would be embarrassed if she was caught mishearing, so I let it drop. Mom stayed pensive.
When we got home, I went to clean the guest bathroom. There on the counter was the glitter glue my daughter had used for her school project.
The subject is male, caucasian, early 30s, five-foot-ten, approximately 180 pounds. Cause of death is...undetermined. Fourth one this week, I don't know. No visible signs of injury or significant tissue damage. Subject's file indicates he ... [rustling of papers] lived alone in a(more)n apartment near the university, no known history of violence or substance abuse. Graduate student. God. Alright [sigh], I'll begin with the Y-incision.
Oh! Hello? Someone there? God...
You're not funny, Mark. It's been way too long a week for your bullsh--Jesus...
Subject is, uh, apparently in an accelerated state of decay, given its current state of...when did they find him [rustling of papers]...that's not possible.
Jesus! [clatter] What the hell is going on, I don't...[telephone receiver being lifted]...Mark, what the hell did you do to this guy? It's...what? ...listen, just get down here now, I don't know what I'm looking at here, but something's--
They are all perfectly coiffed: men gelled and cologned to a sharp, drugstore odor, the women with frosted hair that may have once been blonde, or brown. No one is above 35, unless they are botoxed or Eastern European. No one looks comfortable. Smiles are stretched across perfect(more)ly white teeth and pints of beer are barely touched. Singles' mixer. An examination of net worth, sex appeal, and sense of humour. (less)
Her socks didn't match, which wasn't the reason he was looking at her but was the easiest thing to focus on. One of the socks was an argyle pattern in pinks and purples and yellows. The other was red and blue stripes. Had it been under normal circumstances, he never really would(more) have put much thought into the state of her socks, but upon closer inspection there was so much more to consider. Like the fact that although they were colourful, the socks were thin. There were holes in places and the tops of them looked as though they had been chewed by rats.
This was probably the case. It often was with those who didn't have proper shelter.
The socks were coming apart and soon they would fail. Unless she knew of a way to get another pair, this one would be going through the harsh winter with nothing. It reminded him of a story. Of a girl selling matches. Of a girl dying with a smile on her face. If he left her there with those socks and that hollow look in her eyes, he would never be able to forget about her or forgive himself.
This was going to get them into a lot of trouble. She knew it and so did he. But those socks. Those... socks. Those thin and mismatched socks. The whole idea of this warred with his conscious and his common sense and with how he was raised. How could he leave her?
He couldn't. So he held out his hand to her, frowning when she shrank away. He was almost offended by her rebuke, even if the reason why she had done so was sound. Nodding toward his outstretched fingers, he waited. Her slender hand in his was so cold.