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By Virtue

Updated on January 27, 2017


Room 522-224, the autopsy room is where Nathan Chambers was headed. There was a noxious smell that hit him as he stepped into the room. He tried to shake it, but it stuck to him like sweat on a hot August afternoon. He stopped by to wait for some critical evidence, but he knew sometimes it could be back logged for long periods.

A single autopsy could take less than an hour, it all depended on the complexity of the case and/or the extent of the wounds. Chambers watched the meat doctor return the internal organs to the chest cavity and watched her assistant replace the brain and skull top and closed the incisions. He didn't want anything to do with the internal organs. All he wanted were the blood samples, swabs, bullet fragments, nail clippings, the items he could make sense out of it. The real evidence that could make or break his case.

Chambers knew that every visit to the autopsy room reaffirmed a detective's need for a mental buffer between the living and the dead. The freezer held more than a dozen bodies just waiting for the dis-assembly line. The meat doctor looked up at the detective and waved. Chambers slowly stood and for one horrible second made a jerking motion as if he just saw a frozen corpse move.

The detective knew that the bodies accumulated in the freezer were results of auto accidents, drownings, burnings, suicides, overdoses, electrocutions and heart attacks, seizures, natural causes, but his only interest was in the homicides. Black, white, male or female old or young, it didn't matter. They were equally carved up here and they all had that Y stitched on their chests. Chambers was absolutely sure that their ghosts were watching. The way the meat doctors were working it appeared that they had no clue that spirits or ghosts were floating above as spectators.

The doctor put everything Chambers needed onto a metal tray and she just assumed that none of the evidence or findings were private and confidential.

Chambers nodded his approval as a few more bodies were tabled. That religious philosophy or prayer...Though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death... The detective wondered if the dead knew that the valley they were walking through had metal tables, chairs, freezer boxes and instruments used for cutting and splicing. Maybe the spirits could be free, but the bodies were going to be bagged and weighed. Then just dried wrinkled skin and bones were going to be boxed and buried after the donated organs are removed. And then after that you'll have to be certified that you're dead with a signed death certificate issued from a licensed physician.

Chambers didn't have to convince himself that it was even complicated to die.

The assistant moved the cadaver into an empty slot on the metal gurney and rolled it toward the freezer. The only words that entered the detective's mind while witnessing that was table for one.

The meat doctor stopped directly in front of the detective and removed her rubber gloves. “She was raped before they killed her.”

Chambers nodded slowly.

“I think we can close this case up,” she said. “All the evidence points to your suspect.”

Nathan Chambers looked at all the bodies getting ready to be processed. None of them arguing the order that they were placed in. He then realized that the morgue made him believe in God. Looking at all the corpses around and really considering them just meat. The souls have already left the building and he was sure they wanted nothing to do with the autopsy.

Then he looked at Joanne McEvoy's body. All the life was just gone and there was nothing left. She looked so empty and less of a rape and murder victim. He looked at her face and it was blank and empty. The man suspected of her killing her was going to pay.

He shook the doctor's hand and walked back to the door. He looked at the evidence chart and stopped briefly. Joanne McEvoy is dead and gone. Ben Peckson was going to jail for the rest of his natural life. He wouldn't have to worry about working, paying bills, or even medical insurance. The courts will find him guilty, but he will remain alive, McEvoy was dead. By virtue of that one undeniable fact, Peckson wins.

© 2016 Frank Atanacio

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    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 14 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Wow. I can still smell that smell. You really make me pause and think about once the life has left the body. Bodies really are just evidence of the past.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 14 months ago from Southern Illinois

      Yeah, only the killer wins if they send him to prison. I'm so glad all the spirits had left the building. ( Elvis ) Another horrific tale that only you can write. Ten thumbs up for each of the victims....

    • Frank Atanacio profile image
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      Frank Atanacio 14 months ago from Shelton

      Eric thank you my friend.. and Always ( Elvis ) LOL funny.. very funny..:)

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 14 months ago from southern USA

      Whoa, Frank,

      You really bring the autopsy details here to the forefront in this flash!

      I'm glad there are people out in this world who can perform autopsies ...and not me. I worked in claims for an insurance company back in the day and boy did we ever get a sick stomach when we opened an envelope containing autopsy photos.

      Well, I have faith that Nathan will get that coldblooded killer! Yes, thank goodness, our souls go on to not have to know what our physical bodies go through.

      I had a co-worker long ago whose daughter was going to be a heart surgeon, and in college, she had to purchase her own cadaver and fish it out of this huge tank every time she needed to learn how to cut on it to become a surgeon ...mercy!

      Excellent flash once again.

    • clivewilliams profile image

      Clive Williams 14 months ago from Nibiru

      i once had to do some work in a morgue. Seeing how fragile a human is, yet we all act so proud and boastful. good work frank

    • Frank Atanacio profile image
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      Frank Atanacio 14 months ago from Shelton

      Thank you Faith for letting me flash you...:) and Clive thank you too for checking out the flash..:)

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 14 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Perfect, Frank, just perfect!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 14 months ago from southern USA

      You've cured me from going to the butcher for a bit now ...with the meat doctor reference.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image
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      Frank Atanacio 14 months ago from Shelton

      thanks Jodah will be over to return favor.. and I'm glad I was there for you Faith..LOL silly :)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 14 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Well written and a social commentary for a bonus....you packed quite a bit into a very small space, buddy!

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 14 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Frank - You continue to bring us the icy tendrils of crime.

    • wingedcentaur profile image

      William Thomas 14 months ago from That Great Primordial Smash UP of This and That Which Gave Rise To All Beings and All Things!

      Hi Frank! I agree with mckbirdks about the whole "icy tendrils of crime" thing. This time it is literally true, isn't it? I mean the perspective from the pathologist's office, the "freezer," as it were.

      W.T.

    • savvydating profile image

      savvydating 14 months ago

      Another great flash. No surprise there. This story really makes a person think about the death penalty. What if it were my son or daughter who had been brutally raped and murdered. Would a life in prison be justice enough? One has to wonder.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 14 months ago from The Caribbean

      We now know, if we thought otherwise, that the officers who have to deal with the bodies are emotionally and spiritually affected. "The morgue made him believe in God." Another great story about human life and death.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 14 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Frank, I have just one word: Brilliant! This is truly one of your best.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image
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      Frank Atanacio 14 months ago from Shelton

      Thank you so much Billybuc, mckbirdbks... for stopping by :)

    • Frank Atanacio profile image
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      Frank Atanacio 14 months ago from Shelton

      thank you for reading my Virtue.. Genna East, MsDora, Savvydating ( good to see you ) and winged.. always good seeing you my friend.. thank you all and bless you.. :)

    • Diana Lee profile image

      Diana L Pierce 14 months ago from Potter County, Pa.

      Well done and another case solved with good detective work for sure. I am looking forward to your next masterpiece.

    • Missy Smith profile image

      Missy Smith 14 months ago from Florida

      Another good one, Frank. I am always amazed how perfectly detailed all your stories are. Really awesome work! :)

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 14 months ago from USA

      Your description of the meat doctor is so vivid. It makes me wonder what it would take to do that on a daily basis. I once toured a medical university where dissection were in process and it was fascinating, unforgettable. Seeing the nail polish on one cadaver's hands reminded me that these were someone's loved ones.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image
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      Frank Atanacio 14 months ago from Shelton

      Diana Lee, Missy Smith and Flourish.. thank you for visiting my virtue.. and if your moms.. Happy Mothers Day..:) If you're not don't forget to call your mother :)

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 14 months ago from Houston, Texas

      I only had to dissect a cat in anatomy and physiology class and that formaldehyde odor surely does linger. You certainly get into the tiniest of details in your stories! I mean that as a compliment.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image
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      Frank Atanacio 14 months ago from Shelton

      thank you Peggy W for checking out my virtue :)

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 14 months ago from England

      Chilling but so true. it certainly makes you wonder how 'we' manage to move think and do throughout our lives. when that spark has gone all is left is, well, that! great story and makes you think.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image
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      Frank Atanacio 14 months ago from Shelton

      Thanks so much Nell for visiting my snipped virtue...:)

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 14 months ago from Texas

      Frank, this one is so sad with no one to mourn the poor girl on the butcher block almost as if she did not exist, with no emotions, no one to care.

      One of my friends worked in the morgue in Chicago and one night they brought a man in that had just been shot, and when the cadaver grabbed his arm and would not let go and the paramedics had to pry the dead man's hand loose, that was his last night on that job. Funny the things you think of when reading stories.

      Blessings my friend

    • Frank Atanacio profile image
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      Frank Atanacio 14 months ago from Shelton

      Shyron thank you so much for leaving footprints today on many of my hubs.. bless you

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 14 months ago from Dallas, Texas

      Your vivid recount of post mortem activities are Alfred Hitchcock worthy stories, Frank. Fascinating detail and a touch of justice at the end.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image
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      Frank Atanacio 14 months ago from Shelton

      thank you pegcole17 and good to see you :)

    • profile image

      Deb Hirt 14 months ago

      You're so right, Frank. The killer aways wins by living, but not by the way that he continues life.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image
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      Frank Atanacio 14 months ago from Shelton

      I agree Deb Hirt.. thanks for stopping by :)

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 14 months ago from California

      Isn't there a saying about the devil in the details--a little or a lot of that in this write for me--well done Frank!

    • Frank Atanacio profile image
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      Frank Atanacio 14 months ago from Shelton

      thank you so much Audrey :)

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 14 months ago from london

      Great Flash, Frank. Pity Chambers wasn't allowed to be a vigilante, eh. Ha ha.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image
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      Frank Atanacio 13 months ago from Shelton

      thanks for visiting manatita

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